This Sunday: Easter Started This. And This. And …

We love to tell and retell the lessons of Christmas: God loves the poor, a baby changed all the world’s plans, the angels told the shepherds to expect peace on earth.

But Easter is a greater feast than Christmas, even though its lessons aren’t as picturesque. We hear the consequences of Easter all year long, but it might be helpful to zero in on three of them, just as a quick refresher.

  1. Easter started peace on earth.

The first enemy of peace on earth is death. Before Christ rose from the dead, death was a shadow-land of uncertainty. Whether or not resurrection was even possible was a heated debate among Jewish believers.

But Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, even if he die, will live.” Today, he proved it.

The second enemy of peace is suffering. We wonder why we suffer, why a good God allows this. Jesus answers by suffering with us, and then opening up to us that the enormity of eternity that overwhelms our suffering.

In fact, God never delivers on the Christmas promise of “Peace on Earth” except through the Resurrection.

  1. Easter started the Bible.

Easter started the Bible in two ways: First, because Christians had a burning need to write down every detail they could think of the Holy Week story. They had that burning need because the Resurrection transformed that week from a humiliating defeat to a world-changing victory.

Second, Easter started the Bible because it is because of the authenticity of the Paschal accounts that we believe the Bible at all. These accounts present the apostles not as heroes but as doubters and bumblers who resisted and rejected the resurrection until the evidence of their senses forced them to believe.

If you think about it, that means Christmas is one of the things that Easter started. Easter transformed the life of Christ from colorful stories about a prophet into stories about how God behaves in the world.

The story of Jesus has power and life in it because we know who Jesus is: He is God. And we know that because Jesus rose from the dead.

  1. Easter gave us the God of love.

If we had never heard about Christianity, and were told that God became man, was crucified, died and buried, and then rose from the dead … what would we expect to follow? We know exactly what we would expect: vengeance.

If you torture and kill God, you would expect his reaction would be to wipe you off the face of the earth. That reaction wouldn’t just seem acceptable or forgivable: It would seem like the only possible right reaction. Defending himself would properly show his power and show you your place and what the consequences are of messing with God.

The fact that he didn’t wipe his killers off the face of the earth is mind-boggling and transforms our expectations. We often think of God as the God of justice. We either hope he will make our enemies pay for what they did, or we are worried that he will make us pay for what we did.

But after the resurrection, we see what God really is. He suffered and died at our hands because he knew it would intensify our love for him. And when he returned, all he wanted was to make us love him like he loved us.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, he served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.