Understanding Easter from different religious perspectives

29 Mar, 2024 - 00:03 0 Views
Understanding Easter from different religious perspectives Pastor Rangarirai Mazhawidza

The ManicaPost

 

Samuel Kadungure
Senior Reporter

EASTER is a significant Christian festival that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ — an event of immense joy and hope as they celebrate the victory of light over darkness, life over death, and the triumph of God’s love for humanity.

Churches in Manicaland have lined up events that will be filled with the glory as Christians from all walks of life congregate and have a deeper reflection of the final week of Jesus Christ’s mission before offering His body and blood on the cross at Golgotha (Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-16).

He died on Good Friday (today), was buried for three days, and then rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.

AFM in Zimbabwe Manicaland Central Overseer, Reverend Benson Katakwa said Easter is the most important event as it symbolises Jesus overcoming death.

He said they have lined up zonal Easter conferences at AFM Chikanga Conference Centre, AFM Vengere Miracle Centre, Rusape and AFM Odzi to honour the resurrection of Jesus Christ, three days after his crucifixion.

“AFM is a Pentecostal church, and the relevance of Easter is pivoted on the understanding of the Calvarian equation as believers celebrate the birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension and blessed assurance of Christ’s promises. The AFM focuses on the four square gospel as practiced by its founding father, JG Lake — that is Jesus saves, heals, fills with Holy Ghost and is coming back again. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the bedrock of faith of the church,” he said.

Overseer Katakwa said this will be an opportunity for Christians to broaden their understanding about the history of the Easter concept, the mystery of the Lord’s supper and Biblical relevance of partaking of the holy communion.

Reverend Lloyd Nyarota of the United Methodist Church (UMC) Zimbabwe East Annual Conference said the word Easter was substituted for the word “Pesach” which is translated as Passover.

Passover foreshadowed the death of Jesus.

The Bible records that Christ died on the cross on Good Friday, which begs the question — why is it called “Good” Friday?

“It is called Good Friday because of its significance to Christians. Jesus’ death on the Cross was the ultimate sacrifice for humanity’s sins. He was buried for three days and resurrected on Easter Sunday. Therefore, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“During the holy week which stretches from Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1-11) to Good Friday (John 19: 17-30), we read that on a Thursday, according to Luke 22:19, Jesus commanded his disciples to commemorate his Passover death, as the sign of the new covenant. Then based on the wording in 1 Peter 3:19, some traditions argue that Jesus spent the weekend between His death and resurrection in hell preaching to the souls there, giving them a chance at the forgiveness available through sacrifice not previously available before His death. Easter celebrates the defeat of death and the hope of salvation.

“Therefore, it is important to celebrate Easter because it helps us as Christians to — remember the reality of sin, depth of our sin and the serious consequences for sin and always remember the grace and mercy of God,” he said.

 

Overseer Benson Katakwa

Overseer Benson Katakwa

ZAOGA FIF Mutare provincial overseer, Overseer Geshem Musvipa said they will join the rest of the Christian fraternity celebrating and remembering the death and resurrection of Christ by hosting Easter conferences across the province.

“We celebrate His death and resurrection because we are the direct beneficiaries of this great event. We are witnesses of the life changing power of the cross and the story of His death. Easter is not about resting from work commitments, partying and just having fun with family and friends, but it is a special time to cherish the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and the expression of God’s incomparable love for humanity.

“The cross brought us salvation (new birth), deliverance, blessings and the relationship that we enjoy with God. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has gotten us new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3),” he said.

Reverend Prince Ndoro of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, said Easter was established from the Roman Emperor Constantine, who sought to merge Pagan beliefs and Christian beliefs to gain power in his State.

Reverend Ndoro said this tradition culminated in the Easter bunnies and eggs phenomenon, which in essence became competitive to erase the Christian celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ.

“We need as believers to erase that and bring the meaning of Easter celebrations to mark the remembrance of Christ’s death on the Cross and resurrection. Through Easter, we will be celebrating the salvation we received by the death and resurrection of Christ.

“Easter occupies a central place in defining the faith of Methodists, in how it is the source of their salvation and victory from the bondage of sin. In our faith as Methodists, we have various symbols in our tradition that speak directly to the Easter story, for instance, the red colour which is a key component of our uniform speaks to how the blood of Jesus Christ spilled during Easter sanctifying us until we become whole and clean.

“As Methodists, we also observe the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper regularly in remembrance of the Easter story. This is also a key sign that Easter is central and important to the Methodist community because of joys and sorrows that brought us to our salvation. For Methodists and every believer, Maundy Thursday is a very crucial day towards Easter as we all participate in a very important service of the Last Supper when we are joined in His death and resurrection as a sign that we died to sin with Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:1-3). Methodists do not want to miss the means of grace, the strength of our justification that was revealed by the death on the cross by Christ,” he said.

 

Overseer Geshem Musvipa

Overseer Geshem Musvipa

Reverend Ndoro said the Easter story teaches and reminds Christians of Jesus’ self-emptying — understood from the incarnation point in which Jesus was made human without considering Himself God.

Seventh Day Adventist Mutare South East District, Pastor Rangarirai Mazhawidza said although the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the faith of Christians, not all denominations practice the traditional Christian holidays in the same manner.

Do Adventists celebrate Easter?

“Most Adventists typically do not celebrate Easter for two basic reasons — one cultural and the other theological. Culturally speaking, the ancient Saxon tribes of northern Europe practiced a holiday they referred to as Eostre in honour of the Germanic goddess of spring Eastra.

“Now theologically speaking, and this is a more important reason for Adventists, there is no mention of the word Easter in the Greek new testament, nor its relation as a holiday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. For Adventists, Easter the holiday and the resurrection of Christ are two different things.

“Besides being baptised, there are no scriptural commands or doctrines in the Bible about how to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. Romans 6:3-4 NIV [3] Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? [4] We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life,” he said.

The Adventists’ argument is that since Easter is not mentioned in the Bible, it is a cultural tradition, and not a spiritual practice.

As a result, some Adventists do not practice Easter, while most will do in the same sense as other protestant churches.

 

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