Easter is my most favorite holiday of all. Often I hear people wondering, “why do Christians celebrate a death?”. The answer is simple, it wasn’t just a death. It was way more than that. As Paul explains it in 1 Corinthians 15 it is about, not only the death, but the burial and bodily resurrection, according to the Scriptures –and on the resurrection, everything we believe as Christians hangs on:
“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” 1 Cor 15:14
Among several key awesome reasons that excite me about the cross we have:
- The sins we all have committed (are committing, and will commit- see here) which put every human being in enmity with God (see here), rendering us as dead in our relationship with God (see here), were fully paid for. It is done! [TETELESTAI]
- By raising from the dead, Jesus proved he is God in human body (see here), thus validating everything he said, including the authority and veracity of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures (Old Testament and New Testament). (No more wondering whether the Jonah story is true :) )
- Not only that, but through the resurrection we get a glimpse of God’s three-persons-in-one-God nature, as scriptures teach that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9, 1 Pet. 1:21), The Father raised Jesus from the dead (Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:17,20), The Son raised himself from the dead (John 2:19-21), and The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).
Nevertheless, there is one particular reason that pumps me up to celebrate Jesus’ dead and resurrection this year.
It all started when I considered verses that describe Jesus as “The only begotten Son” (See John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9), or being begotten [born?] (Hebrews 5:5). That would make sense if related to Jesus’ human birth at Bethlehem, but not as the Son, since as such Jesus is from everlasting to everlasting.
Upon looking up and comparing from the Greek sources, and reading some Greek-beginner-friendly sources, I realized that The Greek term that some Bibles (BLB, NASB, KJV, NKJV) translate into English as “begotten” [g3439 μονογενής monogenēs] does not mean “only born” but “unique”, as seen used in other passages such as Hebrews 11:17, where Isaac is called ‘monogenēs’ –not only “born”, as Abraham did have other children besides Isaac, but “unique”. Other modern translations render this term more properly “the one and only” (NIV, NLT, ESV etc).
So far so good, but we still have the issue with Psalm 2:7 Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5 in which we have God telling Jesus “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You” (KJV, NKJV). Since the Greek word used here [g1080 γεννάω gennaō] means to be born, one would assume it refers to Jesus –as man, being born in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. But that would mean that at some point, he wasn’t, contradicting John 1:1 and other passages. So I searched more.
First, I discovered through searching for what “begotten” may have meant in Jewish culture, that in most of ancient cultures, kings were considered sons of god or sons of heaven, or in some cultures, gods themselves (Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians). However, they were not considered ‘gods’ from birth, but from the moment they were enthroned as kings. It was at that time that they were “begotten” as gods. The term “begotten: was customary of meaning “enthronement as king” (see here)
Second, we have Psalm 2, as understood by Jewish traditions as a Messianic Psalm –that is, a prophecy about the coming Messiah (Jesus Christ). Evidently, a poem about the Messiah’s enthronement as king.
Fast forward about a thousand years to Antioch somewhere around year 47AD, when Paul and his companions went to a synagogue on the Sabbath day, and Paul was invited to speak (Acts 13:14-41). As Paul began to speak, he gave a summary of Israel’s history starting with Egypt (v17), the wilderness (v18), the judges (v20), David (v22), and how from king David’s seed, the Savior Jesus would come (v23). Then he continued with John the Baptist introduction of Jesus (v24-25), all the way to Jesus’ death (v28), burial (v29), and resurrection (v30 “…But God raised Him from the dead”). He continues on:
“31 He was seen for many days by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are His witnesses to the people.
32 And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers.
33 God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus” Acts 13:31-33
And then he gives what by inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the one prophecy –of kingly enthronement, being fulfilled at the resurrection:
“As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’” Acts 13:33
Ending with “34 And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption…”.
Therefore, what we celebrate on Easter is not just a death –a horrible death of an innocent man, or our sins forgiven by God made man, but the enthronement of our King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ!! (see also here). That ladies and gentlemen, is a far glorious reason to celebrate and rejoice!
Long… Eternally live the King!!