The meaning of Easter
What is the connection between freedom and rising from the dead?
When America was in its infancy and struggling to find a culture and frustrated at governance from Great Britain, the word most frequently uttered in speeches and pamphlets and editorials was not safety or taxes or peace. It was freedom .
Two acts of Parliament broke the bonds with the mother country irreparably. The first was the Stamp Act, which was enforced by British soldiers, who used general search warrants issued by a secret court in London to rummage through the personal possessions of any Colonists they chose, ostensibly looking to see whether they had purchased the government's stamps. The second intolerable act was the imposition of a tax to pay for the Church of England, which all adult male property-owning Colonists were forced to pay, no matter their religious beliefs.
The Stamp Act assaulted the right to be left alone in the home and the Church of England tax assaulted the freedom to retain one's earnings and to choose to support one's own means of worship. The two taxes caused many Colonists to realize they needed to secede from England and form their own country in which freedom would be protected by the government, not assaulted by it.
Today, it seems the power of the government continues to expand and the freedom of the individual continues to shrink. The loss of freedom comes in many forms.
Sometimes the government steals freedom without you knowing it, like when NSA agents in defiance of the Constitution they have sworn to uphold read your email and text messages and listen to your phone calls. Sometimes the government's assaults on freedom are just plain inexplicable, like when the president wins political support by lying repeatedly about keeping your doctor and your health insurance and about the government's not reading your emails or listening to your phone calls.
Freedom is the ability of every person to exercise his own free will, rather than be subject to the will of the government or anyone else.
We know from the events 2,000 years ago, which Christians commemorate and celebrate today, that freedom is the essential means to discover and unite with the truth. And to Christians, the personification, the incarnation, the perfect manifestation of truth is Jesus.
Easter — which manifests our own immortality — is the linchpin of human existence. With it, life is worth living, no matter its costs or pains. Without it, life is meaningless, no matter its fleeting joys or triumphs. Easter has a meaning that is both incomprehensible and simple. It is incomprehensible that a human being had the freedom to rise from the dead. It is simple because that human being was and is God.
Jesus is the hypostatic union: not half-God and half-man, not just a godly good man but truly and fully God and at the same time truly and fully man. When the Romans killed Jesus, they killed God. When the dead Jesus rose from His tomb, God rose from the dead.
What does Easter mean? Easter means that there is hope for the dead. If there's hope for the dead, there's hope for the living. But, like the Colonists who fought the oppression of the king, we the living can achieve our hopes only if we have freedom. And that requires a government that protects freedom, not one that assaults it.
Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel.