CHRIST MAY HAVE DIED FOR OUR SINS
BUT THERE WERE WORLDLY REASONS TOO
Despite its status as the holiest day on the Christian calendar, Easter has never had an impact on American life that comes close to the annual, all-pervasive social and economic supernova of Christmas. This is probably explainable by Easter’s limited potential for commercialization. Chocolate bunnies and died eggs can’t match the buying and gift-giving frenzy of Yuletide. Even shopping for that new spring outfit — to the extent people still dress up for Easter in our over-casual age — barely nudges the gross domestic product.
Easter just remains so stubbornly…religious. It’s also kind of demanding. Grasping the joy, or even the concept, of resurrection takes faith. What does it mean that Jesus rose again? For that matter, why did he have to die in the first place?
Now, there’s a question even believers often ask. To reply that Christ died for our sins is to express a theological insight arrived at after the fact (and one which folks who have trouble making the leap to a Christian point of view can find a little off-putting; “I didn’t ask him to die for my sins,” they’ll say).
But let’s go back 2,000-or-so years. What were the conditions at the time which prompted Jesus’ execution? Or to frame the question another way: Why would anybody want to kill someone who went around preaching love and offering a lot of uplifting homilies? And healing the sick to boot! What’s not to like about all that?