bits from bob....

What About Easter

by Robert J. Young
©, 2001, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

What do you know about Easter? Do you know its origin? meaning? or why its date is always changing? Do you know what the Bible says about it?

The holiday we human beings call Easter falls on the first Sunday immediately after the first full moon occurring on or after March 21 (the vernal equinox). The name of this pagan festival, observed long before Christ, is derived from Ishtar, a Babylonian idol goddess whose Anglo-Saxon name was Eastre. Later Eastre (Estera) was the name of a Teutonic goddess who received April sacrifices. In Babylon, round cakes imprinted with the cross (a sign of life to the Babylonians) were made.

Easter eggs have been common in all heathen nations. "The fable of the eggs declares that Ďan egg of wondrous size fell from heaven into the river Euphrates; the fish rolled it to the bank, where doves settled upon it and hatched it; and out came Astarte, or Ishtar, the goddess of Easter.'"

The word Easter does not properly occur in the Bible, although the King James Version has it in Acts 12:4 instead of the correct translation, Passover. No trace of an Easter celebration is found in the New Testament. This bit of history serves to remind us that men often innocently pervert God's will. Our materialistic society has found in the pagan myth and fable an opportunity to give Easter gifts, at least to children, and most Easter eggs today are hollow plastic shells filled with candy or money.

We know from Scripture that God's desire is that Christ's death upon the cross be commemorated every Lord's Day, a practice which was followed by the early church (Acts 20:7). The resurrection upon the first day of the week is undoubtedly the reason for early Christians assembling on that day. The patristic church found in the Passover, and specifically in the death and resurrection of Jesus, a substitute for the life-connections of the pagan holiday Easter. This is surely the reason for the translation of Acts 12:4 mentioned above.

An annual celebration and awareness of the death, burial, and resurrection is hardly sufficient motivation toward the commitment our Lord demands. We need a constant reminder of Christ's sacrifice (1 Cor. 11:23ff). Many of our religious friends and neighbors do not understand why churches of Christ make so little of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Simply stated, the reason is this: we celebrate the Easter event every Sunday. We are not making little of it, we are making much of it. The early church commemorated Jesus' death and resurrection every week when they assembled. We are the church where Easter happens 52 weeks each year.

While the elevation of one day above another is not a practice with Bible example, neither should we ignore the centrality of the death and resurrection event in our worship assemblies on that day when others are so focused on that event. Christ's resurrection is observed and remembered every first day of the week. Perhaps even more important, let us examine carefully any practices which may knowingly or unknowingly identify us with pagan fables or myths, or with the overt materialism and worldly philosophies of our culture and world.

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Last updated November 23, 2001