I love questions like this because it forces us to think about the things that God has done for us through sending His Son, who was born or a virgin, lived and taught as a wise man, suffered as a common criminal, and then was resurrected to new life to proclaim His divinity once and for all. Can we really tear them apart, Christmas and Easter? One cannot have its own importance without the other…
Those are fun thought experiments. But I think that they miss one of the most vital moments in all of human history: the moment Christians celebrate on Good Friday.
So much of the Old Testament points forward to this moment. From the prophecy that one of Eve’s children would be a snake crusher who would be crushed by the snake himself after the first sin:
[God said to the snake, “] 15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
To the promise to the patriarchs that through the family of God all of the nations of the world would be blessed:
12 The Lord had said to Abram, …
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
To the sacrificial system set out in the Levitical Law (there are, like 613 laws… ah, I am not going to be able to reference all of them here… but if you want something specific, go take a gander at Leviticus 16). To the saving nature of some of the leaders of Israel:
16 Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.
To the outlook of the prophets, who looked forward to a time when God would send the best example of a savior for His people:
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
So much of the story of God’s interaction with people leads to the moment when Jesus was nailed to a cross and died. In that moment both the snake and Jesus were crushed, blessing was extended to the whole world for all could now be a part of the Family of God, the Lord has sent a true Leader who could save His people out of the hands of those who would have us turn away, and,
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21
And now our lives have been changed because of Jesus’s incredible sacrifice. Truely, by His wounds we are healed. Our sins are forgiven. We are made new.
While Christmas and Easter are certainly important holidays for Christians, most of the story of God’s interaction with His people points toward and flows out of the cross of Good Friday.