Which holiday is more important? Christmas or Easter?
I remember having a conversation with my dad many years ago where we discussed the relative value of Christmas and Easter as holidays. During Christmas Christians celebrate the birth of Christ and God’s intrusion into human history to dwell with people; on Easter (and Good Friday) we celebrate his death and resurrection and what he accomplished for us through his death and resurrection; namely, the appeasment of God’s wrath, the transfer of Christ’s righteousness, and the consequent reconciliation to God for those who repent and believe.
Dad and I concluded that Easter should be the bigger celebration. Easter was when God dealt with our problem of sin by the crucifixion and resurrection of his Son. Jesus died the death we deserve to pay the penalty for our sin, and then he rose from the dead to secure our new-creational, resurrection life. I think most Christians would agree with our conclusion – at this time of year many Christians rightly explain that the real marvel of Christmas is that Jesus came as a baby to grow up and die for our sins.
However, I am beginning to think that Easter actually points back to Christmas.
At Christmas we celebrate the fact that “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). When Jesus entered history as a baby boy, God dwelt with people in a visible, unique, incarnational way. That is the glory of Christmas!
But the dwelling of God with people is also the aim of Easter. The goal of the Gospel (which is the good news, the salvation news, of Easter) is that we get God and we get to glorify God in getting God. As the book of Revelation draws to a close (as the Bible draws to a close), the Apostle John writes: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3 ESV). God began to dwell with people at Christmas. And through Easter he definitively accomplished, once for all, his dwelling with people as we live with him, presently through union and communion with Christ, and then eternally as we behold him face to face (Rev 22:4).
So both holidays are glorious. Both holidays point to the awesome reality that we get God.
Therefore,the obvious application is that this Christmas we ought to make time to dwell with God. Seek him out while he may be found. Worship him. Commune with him in Scripture and prayer. Come and adore him!