by William J. Stewart
This is Easter weekend, celebrated by many throughout the religious world as the memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. The word “Easter” appears just once in the Bible, and that only in one translation—the KJV. It is an erroneous rendering of the Greek pascha, which is correctly translated Passover. Easter was unknown to the early church; they had no annual observance of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. They observed the Lord’s supper as a memorial of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Interestingly, Passover also happened this weekend (Friday 6:00 pm to Saturday 6:00 pm). It is rare for Passover and Easter to coincide. Passover is based on the Jewish calendar and occurs on the same day each year, Nisan 14. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox.
Easter (or Ēostre) is the Germanic goddess of spring. The celebration of Easter as a “Christian holiday” was a matter of assimilating pagan rituals into church teachings and activities. Easter has as much to do with Jesus as Christmas does (spoiler alert, Jesus wasn’t born December 25—He was born in a much warmer season, when shepherds were able to sleep in the fields with their flocks overnight, Luke 2:8). Both Easter and Christmas are pagan holy days that were assimilated into “Christianity.”
The Passover has more to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ than Easter does, but we don’t observe the Passover either. It is a Jewish holy day, not a Christian holiday. The Passover was a memorial of the Jews release from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 12). The Hebrews were instructed to remove all leaven from their homes and to prepare a lamb for their meal. This became an annual observation.
Though we do not keep the Passover feast, the apostle Paul made an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians 5:7. He wrote: “…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.”
The timing of the death of Christ was not accidental of coincidental. When John the Baptist pointed a pair of his disciples to Jesus, he referred to the Christ as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Long before John, the prophet Isaiah used the concept of a lamb being sacrificed concerning the Messiah (Isaiah 53). He died at Calvary to free us from the bondage of sin. As Old Testament Israel were led from the captivity of Egypt to the promised land, God “…has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…” (Colossians 1:13).
Let us partake of the Lamb of God, our Passover. Doing so requires our participation in the Christian life, walking in His way, directed by His word, focused on His will.