Easter

 

Easter Sunday is a holiday that is celebrated by Millions every year. Many view this Holy day as remembrance of Jesus resurrection and considered one the most holy holidays there is with Christmas being a close second. This also is one of the only days that some will come to church out of the whole year.But did you know that when you examine the NT church that you cannot find where they observed Jesus resurrection as a yearly event?

 

Now out of fairness you can find the word Easter one time and it is only found within the KJV.

 

Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

 

I cant tell you why the translators decided to put the word Easter in this one place. The Greek word they translated from is Pascha which should be translated Passover. In fact in the other 28 places this Greek word is used the KJV translates it Passover. The word Easter should not have been used here and every commentator and Greek dictionary I looked at says the same thing.Now I am not condemning the KJV I am just pointing out a bad judgment call on the translators on this particular word.

 

The word Easter actual comes from the word Eastre whichwas an Anglo-Saxon name for a Germanic goddess of spring and fertility. A whole month was dedicated to her which corresponds to our month of April. Her festival was celebrated on the vernal equinox that is the day on which there is an equal amount of light and darkness.There are other customs evolved with Easter today that point to their pagan origin. The rabbit was considered sacred to the Germanic Goddess and was symbol for fertility after all rabbits are famous for making more and more rabbits. It was also a custom of ancient Egyptians and Romans to give eggs to people during this time to wish them a fertile or productive year.

 

Knowing what I have just told you should really get you to thinking about several questions.

How did this yearly observation of Jesus resurrection get started in the first place?

 

To answer this question we must first understand the Passover. The Passover was a yearly feast that was very important to the Jews because they were to observe to remember how God delivered the Jews from Egyptian bondage. Its during this Passover feast that Jesus instituted the Lord Supper. Once Jesus died on the cross and the new covenant began the Passover was no longer binding nor were any of the feast that were specifically for the Jews. However, many Jews still observed the Passover and the Jewish festivals after they became Christians. Even Paul after he became a Christian would observe some these Jewish customs. In Acts 18:18 he took a vow and vrs 19-21 he sought to keep a Jewish feast in Jerusalem. But also learn Acts 15 that the Gentiles that is you and I were not obligated to keep any of the Jewish traditions such as the Passover, feast or circumcision. History tells us not long after the apostles died that a lot of these Jewish festivals turned into Christian festivals and the Passover began to be observed as yearly remembrance of Christ Resurrection even though Christ himself instituted the Lord Supper to be what Christians were to partake of to remember his death.

 

1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.††

 

This observance was not a yearly event but it was a weekly event according to scriptureand to history.

 

Acts 20:7 ††Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread,

 

Every Sunday should be celebrated and remembered for Christ death and resurrection not just once a year. Well, once man created the Christian Passover many other man made traditions began to be observed like

Palm Sunday which represents Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his death

Good Friday the day he was crucified

Resurrection Sunday which represents the day he arose from the dead which became know as Easter

 

However the celebrations did go without controversy. As these man made traditions developed many could not agree when to celebrate these days. Some wanted to do it by the JewishLunar Calendar which meant that Easter would various days year to year. Others wantedto Easter to fall on Sunday every time but then they still couldnít agree on whichcalendar to use. Some wanted to use the Gregorian and others wanted use the Julian. Even today the Roman orthodox and the Greek orthodox churches celebrate Easter at different times because they each stuck with their own calendar.

 

So as you can see Easter is a man made tradition.†††††††††

 

How did these pagan names and traditions find themselves being associated with what many deem as one most holy Christian Holidays?

 

To answer this question we must understand that when Christians would go into a new Pagan area they would not try and make the get rid of the pagan rituals. Instead they would encourage them to give their rituals a Christian flavor. A historian by the name of Helms had this to say in regards to Easter.

 

"With the advent of Christianity, the egg, still taken as a symbol of life, was simply borrowed to be a symbol of the Christian holiday." "The earliest Easter eggs were dyed red to represent the blood shed by Christ.""Many cultures celebrated the advent of spring down through history. When Christianity came along about 2,000 years ago, there was already a number of pagan celebrations in place." "People rarely discard a holiday. When a new system of beliefs comes along, you simply come up with a new mythic structure to explain why you were celebrating 
that holiday in the first place."
 
You see all it took was time for people to forget what the origin of their holiday really was because they had replaced it with a new belief. This exactly what happened to Easter. How many of us would ever thinkthat Easter was originally a Goddess of fertility? Without historical research we would have forgotten the origin of many pagan rituals. Because of Easter many Christians alike are deceived in thinking thatChristians have always celebrated Easter as once year remembrance of Jesus resurrection. Another Pagan Holiday we call Christmas has many people believing that Christ was born or Dec. 25 because they donít know that this was originally a Roman feast day. 
 
So far we mainly looked at Easter from historical perspective let us know look at what the Bible has to say about the keeping of feast days and man made traditions. 
 
Galatians 4:8-11 ††8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods.9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?10 You observe days and months and seasons and years.11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.
 
Here see that Paul was very concerned for the Galatians because they were starting turn back to their old way of doing things. The reason why he was so concerned is because these people were starting to seek justification through there old ways instead of remembering the justification only comes through Christ. That is why Paul latter says 
 
Galatians 5:4 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

This is when a feast day or holiday becomes a problem is when people think that they have to keep it or that they are in someway justified by it. In the first century there were a lot Jewish Christians that thought it was necessary that the Gentiles keep Moses law.

 

Acts 15:1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

 

You see they were trying to bind customs from the old law on the Gentiles but this was wrong. They had meeting with apostles and by the inspiration of Holy Spirit it was decreed that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised nor did they have to observe the other customs of the old law to be saved.

 

Jesus shows us how mans tradition can become dangerous.

 

Mark 7:1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?"6 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'8 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men -- the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do."9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.10 "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'11 "But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban" -- ' (that is, a gift to God),12 "then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother,13 "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

 

After reading what Jesus had to say about the Pharisees here surely you can see that we must be very careful not to make a man made tradition as a part of religion. I certainly donít want God asking me onjudgment day why I made a man made tradition into a religious ceremony. You see everything that we need to know to worship God in spirit and in truth is found in the Word of God and to make a man made tradition to be part of our worship service wouldbe adding to God word and would make us guilty of worshiping him in vain. To the Christian Easter Sunday should not be anymore important than any other Sunday of the year. Easter should never be taught in the church as yearly observance of Christ Resurrection.

 

Should Christians observe certain aspects of Easter or other man made paganholidays at home or as individuals?

 

Before I answer this question I just want to say one more time that we should be very careful not to intertwine man made traditions into our worship service. However when it comes to observing man made traditions outside of the church we will quickly see that word of God makes this a personal choice as long as it doesnít break Gods commandments.

 

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

 

Paul was man who understood that he must meet a person where they are in order to develop a trusting relationship with them so that he wouldhave a better chance at winning souls. Now I donít believe that Paul would have engage in a sinful practice in order to reach someone but as long as it was harmless custom he would partake in it for reasons of expediencies.

 

Acts 16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.

 

Paul didnít have Timothy circumcised because he thought it was lawful for him to do so. The text says he did because of the Jews in that area knew his father was Greek. Paul didnít want Timothys un-circumcision to become a stumbling block for the Jews. Paul in the chapter just before this already argued that circumcision wasnít necessary to be saved and he even kept Titus from being circumcised.

 

As I mentionedearlier Paul in Acts 18: 18-21 took a vow and was seeking to take part in a Jewish feast.

 

Acts 21:18-26 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry.20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;21 "but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.22 "What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.23 "Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow.24 "Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.25 "But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality."26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them.

 

Here we see Paul goes through a purification ceremony to show he doesnít have a problem with people observing the customs of Moses. Again there is nothing wrong withobserving customs or feast on a person level as long as they donít turn into a obligation or forced upon other to do. For instance there a great number of men that are circumcised today for hygiene reason and there nothing wrong with that. Now if people started saying thatyou had to circumcised in order to be saved then it wouldbecome wrong.

 

Colossians 2:16-17 6 So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.†††

 

Paul is letting us know donít judge people because of the customs they may keep on a personal level. What they do in this aspect is between them and God.

 

Romans 14:5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

 

So with that in mind if you want color Easter eggs and hide them for personal entertainment there is nothing wrong with that. If you want to put a Christmas tree up and lights andgive presents to one another againI donít see any wrong with that.

 

In conclusion remember to keep man made traditions out of the church as they will cause confusion. Outside of the church man made customs can be observed on a personal level but make sure that you never turn them into an obligation or force them on others.