What if Easter is a Myth? [An Open Letter from an Evansville Pastor]
Have you ever imagined what it would be like if Easter didn’t really happen? Would we even know a difference if it was discovered that Easter was a myth?
Let’s be honest…if Easter were erased, we’d logically assume it was because of Carole Baskin. Anybody else with me?
“Alternative history” is a term used by historians where a different outcome of an event in history is imagined. To illustrate the significance of the event—whether it was the outcome of a war, the election of a certain candidate, or the assassination of a dictator—they will explain how that pivotal moment impacted the trajectory of society. For example, what if Germany had won World War II? What kind of president would JFK have been if he wasn’t assassinated?
What would be different in our world today if Jesus were still dead?
To answer this question we have to go back to the early church. A guy named Paul authored several books in the Bible. I Corinthians originally was a letter he wrote to a church in the ancient city of Corinth. This church was jacked up! Netflix could’ve filmed a docuseries about it and appropriately title it, Church Gone Wild.
Communion became an excuse to get drunk at church. (It’s true. IKR). One guy even showed up to church, bragging about having sex with his dad’s wife. Ew. EWWWW.
Instead of just wanting to modify behavior, Paul wrote I Corinthians to remind this community of their identity—the truest thing about us—and how Easter offers the hope of a new life. But if Jesus is dead, then there is no assurance of being rescued.
Validating the authenticity of Jesus’ resurrection by playing “alternative history,” Paul wrote (I Corinthians 15:14 NLT): And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. If Jesus isn’t alive today, then his teachings and example are pointless. Why listen to a con artist with no true authority?
Yet what makes Jesus’ impact on humanity more remarkable is realizing all that He didn’t do and what He didn’t possess. He never owned a home. He wasn’t offered great stock options. He never led an army. He never won an election. He never wrote a book. He didn’t hold any degrees. He was only on earth for 33 years. But 20 centuries later, his influence is so palatable and consuming that every time we look at the date, we inadvertently acknowledge his existence. One author accurately observed that Jesus is the dividing line of human history.
Suppose Jesus is dead and His resurrection was a lie his followers created after having one too many glasses of bourbon.
Alternative history suggests our world would look vastly different today.
We wouldn’t have cemeteries. The word for cemetery in Greek means “sleeping place.” Followers of Jesus started these burial grounds as a continual reminder that death is merely sleeping, and we have the hope of resurrection.
Heaven would be deleted. This means we wouldn’t have the comfort knowing that a loved one is in a “better place.” Therefore, we wouldn’t have the hope of being reunited with a grandparent, mom, dad, child, or friend one day.
Erasing Easter would mean evil wins. We wouldn’t have the assurance of suffering ever ending. Justice would be a figment of our imagination.
Without Easter, Dr. King wouldn't have lead the Civil Rights Movement in the same peaceful way. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s courage to fight for equality was motivated by Jesus dying on behalf of all people, regardless of skin color.
No Easter would also mean no hospitals. Who is paying attention right now? In the early days of the church, leprosy was an epidemic causing sick people to be quarantined and die in isolation. The leaders, guided by the words and compassion of Jesus, felt strongly that the sick had been made in the image of God. From that moment, they created care centers for the sick and vulnerable. That was the beginning of what would come to be known as hospitals. Jesus was the inspiration for modern nursing (Florence Nightingale), Hospice, the Red Cross, nursing homes, orphanages, foster care, adoption, and other relief organizations we’re familiar with today.
Now you can start seeing why you can make the case that Jesus is more relevant today than ever before.
More personally, if Easter is just a lie, then that means our worst moment is our defining moment. That’s bad news for me. I am broken, flawed, imperfect, and the only person to blame for why my life is so jacked-up at times is myself. I don’t always keep my anger in check. I battle depression and anxiety. Heck, I couldn’t function if it weren’t for a heavy dose of prayer, pills, and people!
Removing Easter means my guilt and shame have the final say.
One of the terms we’ve become all too familiar with lately is the word “cancel.” School, church, flights, senior year, prom, graduations, vacations, and the NCAA tournament have all been canceled.
Now here’s the thing: of Easter means something monumental has been canceled. In one of his other letters, Paul wrote (Colossians 2:13b-14): “Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”
Easter means you aren’t too far gone for Jesus. No matter what your dad told you when you were a teenager. No matter what your ex made public during the divorce. No matter what happened that one night in college, you haven’t told anyone about.
Jesus has cut each of us a pretty sweet deal that goes like this: your worst moment isn’t your defining moment.
I don’t know about you, but I’m in on that offer.
-Patrick Garcia, Lead Pastor of The Hills Church
Catch Pastor Garcia this Easter Sunday on Facebook at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.