cross and sunrise

Easter: The Meaning & Message Behind the Holiday

Did you know that Easter is only mentioned once in the Bible? This fact brings up many questions:

What is the true origin?

Should Christians celebrate it?

Is it even Biblical in the first place?

When we think of Easter, what comes mind is probably baby chicks, bunnies, and eggs. 

While these are modern ways (influenced by pagan traditions) of celebrating Easter, they are not the point of Easter. This is a festival when Christians remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

easter eggs

Biblical Meaning of Easter

If you’ve read your Bible carefully, you’ll notice that there isn’t a direct connection of the word of God with Easter. However, many Bible verses point to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The mission of Christ from the time He began preaching was to reconcile man with God. This would regain the relationship we’d lost in the garden of Eden.

The permanent solution was for Christ to die on the cross. But He didn’t have to remain dead. Jesus had to rise again after fulfilling the mission. His death symbolically showed that we died in Him and rose with Him as new creations.

“We, therefore, were buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

After dying on the cross and staying in the tomb for three days, Jesus rose on the morning of the third day with power and glory. His rising was a symbolic meaning that life overcame death. 

jesus on the cross

The History of Easter

The history of Easter is a little complicated. There are many conflicting theories that make it hard to determine where and when it started.

The first controversy comes in when you try to describe the meaning of Easter itself. It comes from the word “eastre.”

Eastre was the goddess of spring that the Teutonic tribes worshipped. This is one of the first tribes the early Christians ministered to after the explosion of revivals in the Book of Acts.

What happened after the missionaries visited the Teutonic tribe is strange.

According to some scholars, the missionaries seeking to convert the Teutonic tribes were the ones “converted.” 

They adopted the eastre celebration as their own and tried to marry it with the memorial of Jesus’ resurrection. This made the new converts continue with the same tradition with a different meaning.

For this reason, it was difficult to determine the actual date of Easter. Some people linked the date to the Spring Equinox while others used the ancient Hebrew calendar that synced with the Passover.

After many years, the Roman emperor Constantine met with church elders in 325 AD and set a permanent day for Easter celebrations. They settled on the first Sunday after the full moon, which happens after the Spring Equinox.

The Connection of Easter and The Passover

Let’s first have a look at a few shocking revelations about Easter and the Passover.

  • What we celebrate today as Easter was initially celebrated as Passover by the early Christians in the Book of Acts.
  • The Jewish Passover was first celebrated 3,400 years ago when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt.
  • The disciples never set a day to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • The word “Easter” was derived from the word “Pesach,” which is a translation of the Passover. 

If you study the scriptures carefully, you’ll realize that the Passover is a symbol of salvation. Moses rescued the Israelites from Egypt. God told them to celebrate the Passover every year as a remembrance of His saving power.

Likewise, we celebrate Easter to remember how Christ saved us from sin by dying on the cross. And again, Jesus broke the bread on the last supper and commanded the disciples to do it to remember His death.

Both festivals have a deep connection to the Christian faith, and their collaboration is profound. First of all, the festivals are surrounded with a message of hope regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

In both comes the promise of redemption embedded with historical events that teach us something vital about Christianity.

lamb passover

Differences between Easter and the Passover

Difference in Origin

The first difference between Easter and Passover is in their origins. The origin of the Passover is clearly stated in the book of Exodus 12. God gave commandments to Moses to tell the people how they would conduct it. 

On the other hand, the origin of Easter has been scanty with many different theories. The only time we see the word Easter in the Bible is in the book of Acts 12:4. Still, most Bible scholars argue that it was a translation error and was meant to be a Passover.

Death and Ressurection of Jesus

When God sent an angel of death to Egypt, the only sign that was to spare the family’s firstborn was the blood smeared on the door. This blood came from the lamb slaughtered that day.

Likewise, Jesus is the Passover Lamb meant to be slaughtered for the salvation of humankind. Any person that accepts Him is saved from the impending tribulation by the blood He shed on the cross.

During Easter, Christians remember Jesus as the risen Savior. It’s not about death now but a celebration for overcoming death. 

The shortcoming with Easter is that the disciples didn’t establish it to be a day to be celebrated. Still, the resurrection of Jesus remains to be an essential occasion in the Bible. 

Easter is Individual While Passover is Communal

Many Christian churches do not celebrate Passover. It’s primarily Jewish people that hold it so dear and place great emphasis on this date.

Why?

The Passover remembers the birth of the Jewish nation as a force for good in their nation. They, therefore, have to celebrate it from a communal level.

But Easter is more of a personal celebration. You take time to reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from a personal perspective.

people praying

How Do You Calculate Easter Dates?

Easter is a moving feast with no fixed date every year. For instance, in 2020, the date was Sunday, April 12 while it was on Sunday, April 21 in 2019. 

The incredible thing is that Easter is just five days after April’s full moon (Pascha full moon), which occurs on or after the spring equinox. This means that Easter will always land between March and May. 

Here are the exact dates where Easter will fall on for the next few years.

  • April 4, 2021
  • April 17, 2022
  • April 9, 2023
  • March 31, 2024
  • April 20, 2025

With all the Contradicting Theories, Should you Celebrate Easter?

To people who are not Christians, many contradictions are a primary reason why they don’t receive Christ as their Savior.

Let’s clarify this. I’ll agree that the genesis of Easter is unclear. But I want you to see the big picture. It’s not about the right date to celebrate Easter, who started it, what it’s named after, or anything like that.

We know one thing for sure. Easter was meant to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is one of the most amazing things to happen in history.

You see, 2000 years ago, it was uncommon for someone to come back from the dead (and it’s still the same today). When you lose a family member or friend, you bid goodbye to them for good.

But for someone to come back to life was pretty incredible. Even the disciples were surprised that Jesus came back to life. But He’d told them many times before that He would be killed but resurrect on the third day.

“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Mathew 16:21)

Let’s see the contradictions in context and look at the most important thing. Easter is a time to remember the risen Savior. He took your shame, guilt, and, sin. He put it on His back and died on the cross.

On the third day, He rose from the dead, and you were a free person. I think this is a marvelous deed that deserves remembrance.

What is the Right Practice to do on Easter?

It is unlikely that there were bunnies, chicks, or eggs in the Bible to commemorate Easter. 

Be very careful about such traditions as they take away the meaning of the occasion and replace it with worldliness. Just like the birth of Jesus Christ has been overtaken by Santa in many regards.

There is, in fact, nothing special you should do on Easter but just remember the resurrection of Christ. Go to church, pray to God, and thank Him for the beautiful job Jesus did on the cross.

If you can, organize a small fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the Lord. Have coffee when sharing God’s word. There is nothing more powerful than spending such a day in God’s presence.

Conclusion

The importance of Easter today to millions of believers is acknowledging that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. It also assures Christians of the eternal life He promised before ascending back to heaven.

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