HALLELUJAH, THE LORD HAS RISEN!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day at Calvary as described in the New Testament is celebrated today, Easter Sunday. All the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) had the same basic account to tell - that Jesus Christ has risen! The resurrection is the culmination of the Holy Week, preceded by Lent, a 40-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. It is one of the prophecies in the Bible when Jesus Himself foretold his resurrection in John 2:19-22 of the New Testament: "Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will raise it up." The Jews replied: "It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" But the temple He had spoken of was His body.

Let us recall Jesus' demise on Good Friday, within 12 hours, everything changed. The appearance of Jesus on at least five different occasions to more than 16 of his followers led to one undisputed conclusion: Jesus had indeed risen. He was alive. He had conquered death. They ate with Him. Then they knew that the Jesus who appeared to them was not a ghost.

Easter customs vary around the Christian world, but decorating Easter eggs is a common motif. In the Western world, customs such as egg hunting and the Easter bunny extend from the domain of church, and often have a secular character. In predominantly Roman Catholic Philippines, the morning of Easter (also known as "Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay" or the Pasch of the Resurrection) is marked with joyous celebration, the first being the dawn "Salubong," where large statues of Jesus and Mary are brought together to meet, imagining the first reunion of Jesus and his mother Mary after Jesus' Resurrection. This is followed by the joyous Easter Mass. Preceded by the Holy Week that includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, Easter is followed by a 50-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.

To Bible-believing Christians, the resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian faith. To them, if Jesus has not risen from the dead, the Christian faith has no credibility. This is the simple message of 1 Corinthians 15:17, which says: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." Today, as we celebrate Easter Sunday, let us thank Lord Jesus for the gift of life and for all the blessings He has showered upon us. Let us also remember what Jesus in John 11:25-26 says: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will never perish."

Happy Easter to all!

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