By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Christians around the world will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on Sunday, March 27. Normally, but not always, Easter usually falls during the month of April.
In today’s world we are used to established dates for most holidays — Christmas is always Dec. 25; Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday of November; Labor Day is on the first Monday of September; etc.
Easter is not that cut and dried. I looked at how the date for Easter is determined and it didn’t take long for my head to spin. I looked at various sites for a simple answer and it wasn’t easy. Those explanations included words not normally in my vocabulary.
Then I found an answer on the Farmers Almanac website at farmersalmanac.com. Being an old country boy, I decided that might be the most easily understood. Here’s what the Farmers Almanac says about Easter: “According to a fourth century ruling, the date of Easter is set on the first Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first Full Moon of Spring, occurring on or shortly after the Vernal Equinox. March 22 is the earliest Easter can occur on any given year, and April 25 is the latest.” Even their version is “Greek” to me.
For those of you who want to calculate when Easter is each year, feel free to do so. As for me, I will just look it up on the calendar the way I have all my life.
How the date for Easter is determined really does not matter. What matters is the fact that we celebrate a Risen Savior.
For me personally, Easter is our most important Christian holiday. What about Christmas? The birth of Jesus of course is essential. But had He not risen on that Easter Sunday 2,000-plus years ago, just another prophet or person would have been born, as some religions still claim.
The Easter story validates the Christmas story. Christ was born. He died a horrific death on the cross for our sins, and three days later, the stone was rolled away and Jesus walked out of that tomb. He was alive that day and He lives today. What a story.
There are people in today’s world who scoff at the Easter story. They claim it is fiction. I pity those people because they are doomed to spend eternity in hell. Yet, those people who do not know Jesus and who scoff and make fun of Christians are the very people Jesus wants us to engage. They are the people with whom Jesus intended His followers, then and now, to share the gospel. We really don’t have a choice if we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
He made it perfectly clear in Matthew 28:19-20 (HCSB): “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Randy C. Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, shared in his Clarity column in the Feb. 24 issue of the Baptist and Reflector that statistics show that three people die and go into eternity every hour. That translates to 72 people per 24-hour day dying without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior or 26,000-plus every year. That’s an incredible and heartbreaking number.
Tennessee Baptists, international missions is important. Missions throughout the United States is important. But just as important are those lost people you encounter every day – whether it is next door, at the grocery store, or in the work place. They are all around us.
Easter provides a reminder to all of us that Jesus died on the cross, not only for those who have called upon His name and asked for forgiveness of sins, but also for all those who have yet to do so.
As you celebrate Easter on Sunday morning, praise God for the gift of His Son and the sacrifice He made for us. At the same time, pray for your lost neighbors and friends. As the song reminds us, “May they see Jesus in you.” Happy Easter!