While sitting in service, on this day that the majority of Christendom celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, it made me wonder and contemplate the celebration. As I approached the church, outside along the sidewalk, there were brightly colored easter eggs. As I walked into the sanctuary, there were flowers on the mourner’s bench, a board cutout of the tomb, and I wondered what would transpire.
The church I attended was a United Methodist Church. I have been to it many times and I enjoy hearing the pastor. But today, a retired preacher was giving the message. It started out with memories of Easter Sunday’s gone by. Eggs, baskets, bunnies. And for the next 10 minutes or so, we were taken down that bunny trail. Then the message turned to Jesus and the story from John 20:1-18. This is the telling of the Mary’s visiting the tomb and finding it empty. Then Mary Magdalene speaking with Jesus at the tomb.
This part of the message was expected. However, starting the story of rabbits and eggs didn’t feel right. Not that these images have been used for centuries, if not longer. But because we understand that these images have a meaning older than our faith. The various uses of signs of new birth and fertility have been used in many pre-Christian cultures and belief systems. Even the term Easter has its roots in paganism. It was originally celebrated through the pagan cultures that celebrated the spring equinox. The equinoxes and solstices were the pagan ways of determining the seasons and held festivals in response to them. I’m not going to debate that the Catholic Church incorporated many pagan beliefs and festivals into the ‘Christian faith’. That part doesn’t need debating, its true.
But what I do choose to present, is the biblical celebration of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because when you look at Holy Scripture, you don’t see the Christian festivals we now support in the church. I have already written an article on the aspects associated with Halloween. So now, let’s see in Scripture, if an celebration from cross to empty grave exists.
Romans 6:3-5 states. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection”
So, there is the answer to how the early Christian Church celebrated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. BAPTISM. Some see it as a public announcement of our faith. Many see it as a sign of new birth. It is both. But more importantly, it is the celebration of the resurrection.
Let us look at the three parts of baptism. Going into the water shows our reenactment of the death of Christ on the cross. Then when submerged and underwater, we have been entombed. Coming back up out of the water is our personal symbol of Christ’s resurrection. Jesus told told Nicodemus that to be made a part of the Kingdom of God, one must be born again. (John 3:1-21). So the rebirth (like our original birth) happens as we come out of a fluid (amniotic/baptismal). The actions themselves are the biblical celebration of the crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus the Christ.
While man has sought to through the ages to use non-faith ideologies and actions to celebrate various aspects of the Gospel accounts, Easter is, and always will be, pagan in origin and imagery. Just because on slaps the identity of Christian and a picture of Jesus on something, does not make it biblical or Christian.
This is the last easter celebration I will partake in. Having explained the paganism to my children, it will be up to them and their mother/stepfather to either reinforce the true biblical steps we are to take in Christ. When they are with me, from now until time ends, this is the way it has to be. For those believers in Christ as their Savior, I ask only this. That you study Scripture and history together to see where many ‘Christian’ traditions came from.
Have a wonderful and blessed day.