Have you ever thought about why we buy chocolate eggs at Easter time? Have you ever wondered why Easter moves around the calendar each year? Have you ever pondered if Christians should celebrate Passover instead of Easter? Have you ever even thought about why it is called “Easter”? I know that I have had such thoughts. So, I have started to do a little reading up about these things to try to get a bit of clarity on these matters for myself.
Now before I delve into the history and practices of Easter, I want to say that the bible tells us that:-
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.” Romans 14:5-6
Essentially, we are to help to edify other believers, rather than put a stumbling block in each other’s paths. We each need to read our bibles prayerfully to decide which days we observe to the Lord and which we do not. But with an enquiring mind and a humble spirit I am confident that the Lord God will gently lead and teach each of us what pleases Him. True followers of Jesus Christ will, of course, always remember His death (and resurrection) and the forgiveness from our sins that His shed blood on the cross has wrought for us. That is the main thing to hold in our minds as we consider all the other aspects of Easter and Passover at this time of year.
My Easter’s Past
Over the years I have generally joined in with traditional church Easter Sunday celebrations. And yes, I also used to buy my children chocolate Easter eggs. And yes, when I came across Christians who talked of celebrating Passover I thought them rather strange. I realise that within Christendom there is often a disconnect between our Jewish roots and our own Christian faith. It has often felt like the Jewish people had their celebration and the Christians had their own. Now I am questioning this and feel it is an issue that needs to be redressed. I believe this can be achieved simply by each of us reading our whole Bibles a bit more, with a prayerful attitude, asking the Lord to be our teacher, as He promised He would be.
Passover is derived from the time when the Lord God passed over the houses of the Israelites in the Old Testament and spared His people from the final plague of death of their firstborn, that God inflicted on the Egyptians. They had to kill an unblemished lamb and put its blood on their door frames as God instructed them, so that:
“When I see the BLOOD, I will pass over you.” Exodus 12:1-14
So, Passover was the Jewish annual remembrance of Israel’s redemption from Egyptian slavery and death.
The Feast of Passover falls on the 14th of Nisan (March-April) every year, which is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar.
Jesus, however, changed this to remembrance to Himself, when He said to His disciples at His last Passover meal:-
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.
For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matthew 26:26-28
As the Passover lamb had to be an UNBLEMISHED lamb, it pointed to Jesus Christ, the UNBLEMISHED Lamb of God. As the bread had to be unleavened (yeast/leaven always represents sin in the Bible) that too emphasised that Jesus Christ was the sinless sacrifice.
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
1 Peter 1:18-19
Note also how Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
“Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened.
For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
1 Corinthians 5:7-8
Ultimately, the Lord celebrated Passover as a Jew, and He explained how He was Himself was to be the Passover lamb, slain for the sins of the world. He was the fulfilment of the old covenant Passover. Now those who ask Him to forgive all their sins, who then obey His commands and follow Him, have the death sentence removed from them.
Those who are born-again of His Holy Spirit will not die but live forever. Hallelujah!
It seems to me that the two events, Passover and Easter, both fall around the same time of year (more so this year, as they are only days apart) and I was wondering if this was a coincidence or not. I have been wondering what the Lord wants me to do about these two “holy days.” Shall I continue to celebrate Easter or shall I switch to celebrating the Passover or should I do neither? Before we decide what is best, let us think a little on the practices and customs of Easter.
I have discovered that there is a darker side to the history and origins of Easter than I was previously aware of. But I am also aware that history is a complex thing to understand and internet sources can sometimes be biased and misleading. I understand also that the enemy of our souls, that great deceiver or adversary, would have us “throw the baby out with the bathwater” and attempt to get us to not celebrate what Jesus Christ did to defeat him at all! But that isn’t going to happen is it folks? Because we love the Lord Jesus and rejoice in our salvation continually.
I do believe though, that many customs and practices of Easter (Easter bunnies, Easter egg hunts, Easter baskets, Spring chicks, Sunrise Services etc) have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and so they do not honour Him. They can act as distractions from Him, in fact. Our children can become more focused on receiving lots of chocolate Easter eggs than they are on the wonder of the story of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must remember that we have an enemy and he is a deceiver, who hates the Lord. He is happy to distract our children (and us too) along with the world. When our focus is on pagan things and on over-eating sugary confectionary it isn’t focused on the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is a master of manipulation and deception. He will take something good and just twist it a little. He will take something of God and just add something pagan to it. I do believe that it is time for us to become thinking and praying Christians and to grow up to maturity in our faith and take a stand against the devil’s schemes.
Do I like springtime and chocolate? Of course, I do! With a passion! But do I want to confuse others around me about what I am celebrating at this time? No, not really. I suppose I could end up looking just like the unbelievers if I follow their practices. Am I willing to loosen my grip on a heritage of such Easter customs in order to be set apart for “holiness unto the Lord”? I think I am willing. What about you? Will you cling on to those Easter eggs with a firm grip or will you begin to question what these things are really about? Will you allow your thoughts on this subject to be free from the nest of religion, as it were, and to humbly seek the Lord’s will for you in a new way perhaps?
Concerning Issues About Easter
While the dates for most celebrations are fixed, Easter can vary from March 22 to April 25. Why is this? In the third century an ecumenical council of Catholic bishops decided to use the 14th day of the lunar month to determine the date of Easter. In Western Christianity, Easter Sunday always falls on the next full moon after Spring Equinox. Yet by full moon it does not mean the astronomical full moon but the “ecclesiastical moon,” which is based on tables created by the church!!
Why the date change from Passover all those centuries ago? It seems plausible to me to assume this Nicaean council changed the Passover method of date calculation in favour of this new way in order to bring a distancing of themselves from Christianity’s Jewish Passover roots. And to a great extent their scheme has been working. Is it time to start thinking about this now?
Easter is never mentioned in the Bible. (Althought the King James translation does contain the word “Easter” in Acts 12:4, virtually every other translation says “Passover,” which is the proper translation of the Greek word pascha.)
Easter probably came from the ancient pagan goddess of spring and fertility, Ishtar, Astarte, Ostre or Ēostre. In pagan cultures, I am informed, all celebrations and rituals are the worship of the sun gods – Apollo, Zeus, Jupiter and many others represent Nimrod who is the embodiment of Satan. This goddess is also known as the ‘goddess of the dawn’ and the ‘daughter of heaven’. Another source says it is connected with the worship of “Tammuz,” who was believed to be the only begotten son of the ancient Babylonian moon-goddess and the sun-god.
Does the name matter? I think that it does. If you think about the names of people and places in the Bible you will be aware that they each had meanings. We know also that God sometimes changed people’s names to reflect new meanings about their lives (eg, Peter from Simon, Paul from Saul, Abraham from Abram & Israel from Jacob, etc).
Also I have learnt that God hates mixture. He is a jealous God. He hates His people being involved in any pagan worship alongside worshipping Him. This is interwoven thoughout the Bible, and we have many warnings of the judgements upon those who disobeyed the Lord’s commands, those who presumed that they could worship Him in ways of their own imaginations. This is a serious matter to consider.
Easter bunnies and eggs were linked to pagan traditions that symbolize fertility and new life. People buy millions of pounds worth of chocolate eggs, bunnies, chicks etc. Making “Easter baskets” with such items in them is a traditional practice. The commercial world loves this, of course. Do you think it is wise to join with the world in these pagan purchases perhaps?
Jesus said to the Pharisees that He will be in the heart of the earth 3 days and 3 nights and that this would be the sign of Him being the Messiah.
“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40
This prediction of 3 days between His death and resurrection can also be found in Matthew 16:1.
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.“
And it is recorded in John 2:18-22.
“So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”
We also know that His predicions were common knowledge as we see in the recorded conversation of the religious leaders to Pilate in Matthew 27:62-64
“On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
If human church tradition is correct that Jesus died on Good Friday and was resurrected on Easter Sunday, then something doesn’t add up quite right to me. This has always niggled me, if I am honest!
In the year that Jesus died sources tell me that Passover fell on a Wednesday. Thursday was therefore an annual Sabbath – the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread – rather than the regular weekly Sabbath day. See John 19:31 for corroboration of this fact.
“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” (YLT uses “a great one” instead of “a high day”)
Therefore, Jesus was buried just before sunset on Wednesday afternoon, and was in the tomb Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. He was resurrected just before sunset on Saturday afternoon (the weekly Sabbath), exactly 72 hours after His burial, just as He predicted.
On Sunday morning, when the women came at dawn to embalm His body, He was already gone. They did not see the resurrection; they saw an empty tomb, and were told by angels that He had risen just as He said He would.
Easter actually obscures the very point that Jesus said was one of the signs of His Messiahship—the three days and three nights in the tomb. This does not bode well for truth and integrity in this matter at all.
Sunrise Services – pagan people did this as they worshiped the sun. Sunday is the day of resurrection and pagans remember the rebirth of the sun each morning. There is far too much to cover here on sun worship. Suffice it to say, I do not consider it a right Christian practice – but it has been incorporated in some churches at Easter time. I wonder why that is? Could it be paganism in the churches trying to lead people off the narrow path that the Lord Jesus requires of His people?
I have just thought about how confusing all this must be to children. I have then thought about what Jesus said about confusing children and it is a sobering thought with regards to Easter practices. Please consider Matthew 18:6-7.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!“
Will you send the Easter bunny packing?
Could Easter be classed as one of these such “offenses”? I will leave that up to each of you to decide. Do not forget though, that the devil is the enemy of your soul, and distraction is one of his many weapons. Satan knows full well that the majority of people in the world have no idea that they are on the broad road to hell and he wants to keep it that way. So when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ, his job is to keep people in darkness, so he distracts them with all this Easter eggs and bunny stuff. Some even attend church services just to add a religious feel-good factor to their lives, as they may do at Christmas too.
The truth of the matter is, that the forty days of Lent, eggs and rabbits have everything to do with the ancient pagan religions and nothing at all to do with the Lord Jesus Christ!
Do you think that it is acceptable to the Lord to take such pagan customs and symbols and reinterpret them from a Christian perspective? I rather think not.
Now I know that some Christians have in recent times thought about this word “Easter” and have changed the name of the day to “Resurrection Sunday” instead. That is surely a move in the right direction, in my opinion.
“Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”” John 11:25-27
Final Focus on the Lord Jesus Christ
Do you know that the crucified and risen Jesus Christ is our Passover, because Jesus was in fact the very True and ONLY FULFILLMENT of the Passover, (and every Old Covenant sacrifice also)?
Has all your sin been forgiven and covered by His blood?
If not, then I beseech you to humble yourself before the only true and living God, who has borne your sins Himself on the cruel cross of Calvary, that you might be forgiven and set free.
It was certainly an awesome thing historically for the children of Israel to know that the judgement and wrath of God would PASS OVER them. And it is even more awesome today that His judgement and wrath will pass over us too if we humble ourselves at His feet. But in picking up our cross to follow Him, I truly feel that we must sincerely consider shedding the things of this world and other such distractions that are not part of His kingdom.
Back to the title, “Easter, Passover or Neither? Does it Matter?” and I think that you have worked out that for me it does matter, yes. I now believe that Easter is not the right way for me to worship the Lord, due to all the things I have discovered. I also believe that I do not need to go back to celebrating the Passover as the Jewish Seder meal either, as I am free to remember the Lord on any day and every day.
We can certainly learn a lot about the Lord through the symbolism of the Jewish feasts, so I understand those who would want to have the Passover in memory of Jesus Christ. I however, am content presently to follow the instruction of the Lord Jesus to remember him by the unleavened bread and the wine, whenever I get opportunity to do so as scripture teaches.
“…the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 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.”
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.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
I hope and pray that this has been helpful in some way to you.
You can read my poem on the death and resurrection of Jesus at my other post here.
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