What exactly is “Easter”? Why is it celebrated? What should Christians truly be calling this Holy Feast? How should WE be celebrating it? Does it really have Pagan roots? What’s with the bunny and the eggs? In this article, I will address and answer all of these pressing questions.
First of all, let’s be clear, this Feast has ALWAYS been about JESUS Christ, but it hasn’t always been called “Easter”. It has ALWAYS been about A LAMB (of God), not always a bunny. It has ALWAYS been about The Son of GOD, not always a goddess. It has ALWAYS been about a CROSS, not always about eggs. There are many today who try to persuade Christians to not even acknowledge the Feast because of supposed “pagan roots”.
The fact is that the pagan influence came long after the early Christians first began to observe our Lord’s death on the Cross and celebrate His Resurrection from the dead. In the Biblical Greek, what we now know as “Easter” was originally known as “Pascha”, a word derived from Aramaic and cognate to the Hebrew word “Pesach” which meant “PASSOVER”.
The original disciples, namely the beloved Disciple John, along with the second generation of disciples who knew him, all observed the Jewish Feast of Passover. After Christ’s death and resurrection, the Jewish and early Gentile Christians began to refer to it as “The Passover Sacrifice of our Lord”. It was linked to the Biblical Jewish Passover by its symbolism (Passover Lamb slain/blood of the Lamb of God served as protection from God’s judgment), as well as by its position in the calendar.
So, the observance and celebration of “Easter”, in its purest form, is the Christian equivalent of “Passover”. We simply equate the sacrificial power of the passover lamb with the sacrificial death of our Saviour on the Cross, and celebrate Him conquering the power which sin and death had over us by His shed blood and Resurrection from the dead.
The first Christians, were certainly familiar with the Hebrew calendar, as they were primarily all Jewish. They were the first to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, and timed the observance in relation to the Passover. Jesus, as the Passover Lamb, was crucified at roughly the same time that the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple, on the afternoon of Nisan 14.
The Gospels are all clear that Jesus was crucified and died during the hours of the Passover preparation sacrifices ~
“And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour..” ~ John 19:14
Our Lord JESUS Himself celebrated the Passover Feast, and what we Christians know as the Last Supper was a Passover meal (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 13). The Apostle Paul spoke of the connection between Christ and the sacrificial Passover lamb ~
“.. For even Christ our PASSOVER is sacrificed FOR US.” ~ 1st Corinthians 5:7
So if the question posed is, “Should Christians observe a Feast to remember Christ’s sacrificial death, and celebrate His Resurrection?” Also, “Is it Biblical to do so?” The answers are YES and YES. We should most definitely as Christians observe this ancient Holy Feast which goes back all the way to the very FIRST Christians.
As for the original Jewish Passover, and why it falls on a different date than Good Friday most years, it is because leaders of the institutional Church during the time of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea decided that it should always fall on a Sunday. Regardless of what day, or week, or season, that the Christian celebration falls, we should always observe it to remind ourselves and others of what our Lord did for us on the Cross.
To remind us what He brings us through His miraculous Resurrection.. In the years, like this Year, when Passover is celebrated on different dates than Good Friday or “Easter”, I believe it gives us TWO solemn occasions to observe and celebrate our God and what He and His Son, our Lord Jesus, have done FOR US by the precious, sinless, spotless, unblemished shed Blood of the Lamb of God.
Now, as to the questions of how we should celebrate the Feast, how we should NOT celebrate it, what we as Christians should call or NOT call it, and what are the pagan influences upon the “modern” celebration of this Christian Holiday? First and foremost, the Jewish Feast of Passover, and the Christian Resurrection celebration are BOTH Biblical and have NO pagan roots.
Calling this Holy season “pagan” is a widespread lie propagated by secularists in an effort to discourage any widespread observance of the days as Biblical Feasts. They try to make you believe that the “Church” created Easter by borrowing from pagan rituals and adding them to Christian tradition. This is false.
The pagan symbolism of our celebration did get approved by some ignorant and crowd-pleasing Church leaders throughout history, but there were NEVER pagan “roots” to our Holiday. Rather the pagan rituals and symbols were welcomed in over time. That is why, in my opinion, Christians should NOT refer to our Holy Season, Holy Week, or our Lord’s Resurrection Day as “EASTER”.
Easter is derived from a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of EASTRE, Oestre and also Ostara. She is known by pagans as a goddess of the DAWN and the SPRING. She was known as a fertility goddess. Hence, in order to welcome more converts into the Church, early Church leaders did not see a problem adopting her name and some customs related to worship of her into the Christian celebration.
Since she was the goddess of fertility, she symbolized “new life”, and thus tied in well with the Resurrection theme of our Lord Jesus. Sadly, throughout most of history, much of the institutional Church leadership welcomed in pagan symbolism or rites in order to appeal to unbelievers. This is what happens when imperfect men claim to speak authoritatively for GOD. If anything a Pope, Bishop, Priest, Pastor, or Church leader tells you or tries to make you believe goes AGAINST what the Holy Bible says, FORGET IT!
The Word of God is our sole Authority, and only His ways, His laws and His words are PERFECT. Therefore, we as Christians should not continue ignorantly in the error of calling our Lord’s Feast by the name of “Easter”. We should instead refer to it as “Pesach”, “Holy Week”, “Passover Sacrifice of our Lord” or “Resurrection Sunday”. All of these names make it clear as to what and WHO we are observing and celebrating.
What about those bunnies and eggs? Rabbits are known to be prolific procreators, and are an ancient symbol of FERTILITY and new life. There’s that “fertility” word again. According to some sources, the Easter Bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare.
Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, this custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. The rabbit was also sacred in many ancient traditions and was associated with the moon goddesses of the “hunt”.
The egg, is another ancient symbol of “NEW LIFE”, (are you recognizing a pattern here?), and it has long been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. As a Christian, I’m not saying you shouldn’t give your kids easter baskets or eggs, or even let them go see an Easter Bunny. I’m saying you need to ensure that their Faith is grounded FIRST in the “Reason for the Season”, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Don’t color eggs, or surround your home with bunny decorations to superstitiously “symbolize” fertility or new life in the season of Spring. Rather, if you do as a Christian use bunny or egg symbolism for your decorating or celebration for your kids, tie it in somehow with Christ, to ensure you’re keeping the celebration about HIM Alone.
From a teaching perspective, some parents use eggs as props to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection, and after coloring them, they then crack them open on Resurrection Day. The tradition of decorating the eggs for “Easter” dates back to the 13th century. Some Christians also dye eggs bright red to symbolize the Blood of Christ and the promise of eternal life.
The eggs are then cracked together to celebrate the opening of the Tomb of Christ. Also, ensure to incorporate Cross symbolism somewhere in any decorations of bunnies or chicks or eggs. It’s preferable as a Christian, if you do use secular decorations around your kids, use LAMBS or SHEEP as they can both be referenced Biblically to children.
You can teach them how Jesus is The Lamb of God, or how we are all like sheep in need of THE Shepherd of our souls. At the end of the day, we need to remember, that each and every Year our Lord Jesus is pushed out of His Holy Feasts more and more. Christmas is being dominated by Santa and Seasons Greetings. Easter is filled with bunnies and eggs.
We can’t complain about our Holy Days being paganized if we don’t stand up for the TRUE MEANING of the Holy Celebrations ourselves. We must show others, namely our family, friends and the secular public, that JESUS Christ is the Reason for these Seasons and that to us, it’s ALL ABOUT HIM.
So, regardless of what it is called or on what date it is observed, what exactly are we Christians to be observing and celebrating in this Season? Simply that Jesus Christ suffered the most horrible agonizing torture of any human being in history, and shed His Precious Holy Blood on the Cross FOR US, and for ALL who would accept Him. Because of this, we who believe in His Most Holy Name and Sacrifice on behalf of OUR sins, can be RECONCILED to His All-Holy Father in Heaven, YAHWeH GOD.
The Holy Bible teaches that “without the shedding of BLOOD there is NO remission of sins”, and we cannot, in today’s age especially, sacrifice a goat or lamb every day for our sins, as the Jews had done in Old Testament times to fufill the laws of the Old Covenant. There aren’t enough lambs in the world!
So, God decided before the foundation of the world (knowing that men would always be sinners and thus put enmity between Himself and the human race) to send an acceptable sacrifice for the transgressions of men once and FOR ALL. He knew that the ONLY THING that would ever appease His Wrath or His Just Judgment against a world full of sinners was His Perfect SON, and His sinless Holy Blood through a NEW Covenant.
The Disciple Peter stated that Jesus was “ORDAINED before the foundation of the world” to be our SACRIFICIAL LAMB. Christ took a body with flesh and blood, endured temptation, hunger, thirst, shame, grief, suffered unthinkable torture and ultimately DEATH, yet through it all SINNED NOT. He willingly took all of the pain and excruciating punishment which WE deserved.
He did so out of His great immeasurable love FOR US, even knowing that not everyone would love Him back or appreciate what He had done. The Father must have shed infinite tears watching His Only Begotten suffer so unthinkably for His children on earth. Jesus accepted the mission to bring about the Salvation of our souls.
He endured it, and accomplished it fully. All that is required of you and I now, thanks to Lord Jesus, is to REPENT of our sins, and ask the Father to cleanse us of ALL our sins in His Holy Blood. He WILL. YaHWeH has promised, that through Christ, He will forgive and FORGET every sin and iniquity that we have EVER committed.
Finally, Christ Jesus completed God’s Plan of Salvation by being the ONLY One throughout human history to ever RISE FROM THE DEAD, proving His Divinity. The empty tomb of Christ today is the reason we call Him “The Author and FINISHER of our Faith.” (HEBREWS 5:9 & 12:22) As He Himself had earlier prophesied, 3 days after His death on Calvary’s Cross, He rose triumphantly from the grave.
THIS my friends is the reason for our celebration in this Season. NOTHING ELSE BUT JESUS. It has nothing to do with a goddess, little do do with bunnies, and even less to do with eggs. Like one of my favorite preachers John Hagee once said, the answer to our every need and our every problem is simply “JESUS PLUS NOTHING”. This Holy Season, and EVERY season for us Christians, should be all about Christ JESUS. Jesus plus NOTHING.
“JESUS CHRIST, Who, being in the FORM of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But MADE Himself of NO REPUTATION, and took upon Him the form of a SERVANT, and was made in the likeness OF MEN: And being found in fashion as a man, He HUMBLED Himself, and became obedient UNTO DEATH, even the death of the CROSS. Wherefore God (YaHWeH) has so highly EXALTED HIM, and given Him A Name which is ABOVE EVERY NAME: That at The NAME of Jesus EVERY knee should bow, of things in Heaven, AND things in earth, AND things under the earth; And that EVERY tongue should CONFESS that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the Glory of God THE FATHER.” ~ Philippians 2:6-11
“Surely HE has borne OUR griefs, and carried OUR sorrows: yet we did esteem Him STRICKEN, smitten of God, and AFFLICTED. But He was wounded for OUR transgressions, He was bruised for OUR iniquities: the CHASTISEMENT of our peace was UPON HIM; and with His STRIPES (wounds) we are HEALED. All we like sheep have gone ASTRAY; we have turned EVERY ONE to his own way; and The LORD has laid on HIM the iniquity of us ALL. He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He OPENED NOT His Mouth: He is brought AS A LAMB to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His Mouth. He was taken from PRISON and from judgment: and who shall declare HIS generation? for He was CUT OFF out of the land of the living: for the transgression (SINS) OF MY PEOPLE was He STRICKEN. And He made His grave with the wicked (two thieves crucified with Him), and with the rich in His death (buried in rich man’s Tomb) because He had done NO VIOLENCE, neither was ANY deceit in His Mouth. Yet it pleased The LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when He shall make His Soul an OFFERING FOR SIN…” ~ Isaiah 53:4-10
Verses highlighting the Redemptive Power of Christ’s death on the Cross and Precious Blood which He shed FOR US: 1st Peter 1:18-19/Revelation 1:5/Leviticus 17:11/1st Timothy 1:15 & 2:6/Hebrew 9:22.
“And the Angel in the tomb said unto them, DO NOT FEAR; You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: HE IS RISEN; He is not here: BEHOLD the place where they LAID Him.” ~ Mark 16:6
“Jesus said unto her, I Am the RESURRECTION, and the Life…” ~ John 11:25
“HE was delivered for OUR offences, and was RAISED again for OUR justification.” ~ Romans 4:25
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST died for OUR sins according to the scriptures; And that He was buried, and that HE ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the Scriptures.” ~ 1st Corinthians 15:3-4
“Jesus said.. I Am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: there is NO MAN who comes UNTO The Father (in Heaven), except BY ME.” ~ John 14:6
“JESUS CHRIST: There is salvation in NO OTHER; for there is NONE OTHER NAME under Heaven given among men, whereby we MUST BE SAVED.” ~ Acts 4:12
“For WHOSOEVER shall call upon THE NAME of The Lord shall BE SAVED.” ~ Romans 10:13
“For you are all the CHILDREN of God BY FAITH in Christ JESUS” ~ Galatians 3:26
“And THIS is the record, that God has given to us ETERNAL LIFE, and this Life is in HIS SON. He that HAS The Son has LIFE; and he that HAS NOT The Son of God DOES NOT have life. These things have I written unto you that BELIEVE ON THE NAME of The Son of God; that you may KNOW that you have ETERNAL Life, and that you may BELIEVE on the Name of the SON OF GOD.” ~ 1st John 5:11-13
“For God (YHWH) so loved the world, that He gave HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, that whosoever believes IN HIM should not perish, but have EVERLASTING LIFE. For God sent NOT His Son into the world to CONDEMN the world; but that the world THROUGH Him might be SAVED. He that believes on Him is NOT condemned: but he that believes NOT is condemned ALREADY, because he has not believed IN THE NAME of the Only Begotten SON OF GOD.” ~ John 3:16-18
“The Father loves THE SON, and has given ALL things into HIS Hand. They that BELIEVE on The Son have EVERLASTING life: and they that BELIEVE NOT on The Son shall NOT SEE life; but the WRATH of God abides on THEM.” ~ John 3:35-36
“.. ALL MEN should honour THE SON, even as they honour THE FATHER. He that HONOURS NOT The Son honours NOT The Father which has SENT HIM.. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the DEAD shall hear the Voice of The SON OF GOD: and they that hear shall LIVE.” ~ John 5:23,25
“And Jesus said, THIS is the Will of Him that SENT ME, that every one which SEES The Son, and believes ON HIM, may have Everlasting Life: and I will RAISE HIM UP at the last day.” ~ John 6:40
“For IN CHRIST dwells all the FULLNESS of The Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) BODILY.” ~ Colossians 2:9
“.. Great is the mystery of Godliness: GOD was manifest IN THE FLESH, justified in The Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into Glory.” ~ 1st Timothy 3:16