The Truth about Easter

 

Ever wonder how the Easter bunny, painted eggs, gifts and candy ever get connected with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth? Have you (as a Christian) ever wondered where to draw the line in how you celebrate Easter? 
 
In this devotion, we are going to provide a little history lesson on Easter, the Resurrection, Passover, and how they all came together. And hopefully, after reading, you will make the decision that best honors our LORD.

The term Easter originated from the word Eastre, who was the Teutonic goddess of spring, according to most historians. However, its origins can actually be traced all the way back to Nimrod and the tower of Babel. His wife would later go on to have an adulterous affair and have a son through that affair. To cover her affair she claimed he was “virgin born” by her late husband and she called his name Tammuz and that he was the promised seed, as spoken through God to Adam; clearly a false demonic claim by Nimrod’s wife. Her name was Ishtar, or better translated, Easter.

Being the goddess of fertility, or the promise, the pagans always celebrated the coming of spring in honor of Ishtar the first Sunday after the full moon of spring. The bunny was a customary celebration in European spring festivals while the eggs were customary celebrations in the Middle Eastern spring festivals. Both were in honor of fertility, rebirth, or renewal. Neither of which had their roots in Christianity.

So how did these spring fertility celebrations from the pagans merge with the Passover celebration of the Jews, and the Resurrection celebration of Christ? In short; not easy.

It was during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine I, around 325 A.D. that the First Council of Nicaea (council of Christian bishops) convened to attain consensus on general assembly in Christendom. In a letter from Eusebius on the “Keeping of Easter” he wrote;

[To sum up in few words:  By the unanimous judgment of all, it has been decided that the most holy festival of Easter should be everywhere celebrated on one and the same day, and it is not seemly that in so holy a thing there should be any division.]

Although a noble thought, it was not a good idea. The merging of celebrations only, in my opinion, clouded the true and precious meaning of this time of year.

Passover to the Jews is a sober time of remembrance. It is a time to reflect on God’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery. This was accomplished through death. It was no coincidence that Jesus was killed during this time of Jewish remembrance. It is a time for the Christian to reflect on the price that was paid on their behalf for their deliverance through the death and resurrection of Christ, the true Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7).

When one is not personally affected by an action it is difficult to comprehend, or even appreciate for that matter, the impact of a sacrifice made on their behalf.

A modern story of such sacrifice is the closest I can come to portraying (on an extremely small scale) exactly what was done for the Christian.

In an article from the LA Times dated June, 03 2008:

If there’s an opportunity to escape the deadly blast of a grenade, the Army trains soldiers to take it.

When an Iraqi insurgent threw a grenade into the Humvee where Pfc. Ross A. McGinnis manned the machine gun, he had time to jump from the turret and save himself.

But he didn’t. In a matter of seconds, with four comrades stuck inside, McGinnis yelled “grenade” into his microphone, dropped down the turret and used his back to smother it.

On Monday, during a solemn White House ceremony, President Bush presented McGinnis’ parents, Tom and Romayne, with a posthumous Medal of Honor for their son, who absorbed the grenade’s blast and saved the other men.

“America will always honor the name of this brave soldier who gave all for his country and was taken to rest at age 19,” Bush said. “No one outside this man’s family can know the true weight of their loss.”

“If [McGinnis] wouldn’t have blocked it with his body, there’s no doubt that nobody would have escaped it,” said the Humvee’s driver, Sgt. Lyle Buehler, who was wounded by shrapnel. Now, Buehler said, he lives with a feeling of guilt every day.

“Any time I have something good in my life, a family gathering or anything, I think about his family, how his family doesn’t have that anymore,” he said. “And he could have had that. And it hurts.”

The sacrifice one paid to save the physical life of others is sobering. It would be an insult to celebrate such a sacrifice with the festal celebrations of those who threw the grenade. Yet, we do just that very thing when we mix the festal holidays of pagan religions with the true meaning of the day Christ died on our behalf; not for the saving of our physical lives, but for the salvation of our eternal lives.

This “Easter”, take time to reflect on the price that was paid for your life. Can we celebrate? I believe we can. We can celebrate the fact that new birth was provided for us, but in honor of the life that was sacrificed on our behalf through Christ Jesus our LORD.

Sgt. Buehler hurts in remembrance of the price paid to save his physical life, how much more should we at the price paid for our eternal life?