Next to Christmas, Easter is the most significant annual celebration for many Christians.
Palm Sunday is held by Christians to be the day of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. For many Christians, Good Friday marks the day of Christ’s crucifixion and Easter Sunday is celebrated as the day that Christ rose from the grave.
But did Easter begin with Jesus Christ?
Christ, Our Passover
Christ died at the time of the Jewish Passover, a celebration very different from Easter. (See Luke, chapter 22.)
The Passover, instituted at the time of the Exodus (see Exodus 12), was a prophetic symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would suffer as the silent lamb of God (see Isaiah 53:78).
John the Baptist John recognized that Jesus was to die the death of the Passover lamb and called Jesus “the lamb of God.” (John 1:29) Jesus gave His life as the Passover lamb in fulfillment of scripture.
Pagan Roots of Easter
Easter has its origin long before the time of Christ.
The word Easter comes from Astarte, the name of a Chaldean goddess, also called the “queen of heaven.”
According to W. E. Vine in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, Easter was distinct from the Christian Passover celebration that was kept by the early church. Easter was “introduced into the apostate Western religion, as part of the attempt to adapt pagan festivals to Christianity.”
The Fertility Festival and its Links to Easter
For the ancient pagans, Easter was a fertility celebration replete with fertility symbols: eggs, rabbits, and wheat. It was also connected to sun worship, which is why Easter celebrants often participate in Easter sun-rise celebrations.
God’s View of Easter
What Did God have to say about Easter celebrations? “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.” (Jeremiah 7:17, 18) The “cakes” referred to here, are thought to be much like our modern day “hot cross buns.”
Has God Changed His Mind?
Does God change? Did Jesus tell His followers to mark His death and resurrection with Easter celebrations? Is it possible that the Son of God might have changed His mind about pagan celebrations? The Bible is clear on this point. God does not change: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8.) “I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6)
Are Christians Missing the Real Holy Days?
Easter has supplanted the Passover and it also detracts from another true holy day that Christ and His followers kept – the Sabbath.
According to the Bible, “And the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee followed after and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid.
“And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” (Luke 23:54 -56)
The Holy Day Jesus Observed Even in Death
While virtually the whole of Christendom views Good Friday and Easter Sunday as holy days, the one day of the week that Christ set apart as holy is completely ignored and even trampled upon by Christians.
The Sabbath, which Christ sanctified in Creation week, kept throughout His whole life on earth, and even observed (as He rested in the tomb from His work of salvation) in His death, is not even acknowledged by most Christians.