Easter is suppose to be the time of the year when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. So from where do all the chocolate bunny rabbits and painted eggs come from? And according to Church Traditions, if "Good Friday" is the day He died and "Easter Sunday" is the day that He arose from among the dead, where are the three days and three nights which He said that He would be in the heart of the earth?
- MATTHEW 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Let's tackle the second question first. How do you get three days and three nights from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning? You can't, no matter how you twist it and turn it. As we shall see, Yeshua (Jesus) wasn't crucified on Friday, nor did GOD raise Him from the dead on Sunday. He was probably crucified around 9 am Wednesday morning, died that afternoon around three, and rose three days later, sometime after three p.m. on Saturday, the weekly Sabbath. Then, "The first day of the week [Sunday] cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher" (JOHN 20:1). Notice that by the time Mary had arrived at the tomb, which was early Sunday morning, that He had already been risen.
One reason this is so rarely understood is because Church Tradition has refused to admit that it has painted itself into a corner. We know from Scripture that Yeshua was crucified just before the Sabbath, but they err in thinking that it was Saturday, the weekly Sabbath. Tradition therefore wrongly concludes that He must then have been crucified on the day before, which would have been Friday. Of course the problem with that is you can't get three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. They therefore conclude that Yeshua didn't really mean three whole days, but just parts of three days. Still, where are the three nights?
Rather than believing the Bible is trustworthy, they too often hold that their traditions are accurate and then go about to make the Bible fit into their traditions. Yet when one cuts himself free from the preconceived ideas with which Church Tradition has interpreted this important event, and then understands the Jewish culture of the time, all is made clear.
Saturday was of course their weekly Sabbath. However, according to the Gospel of John, on this particular week there were two Sabbaths. One was the regular Saturday Sabbath and the other was a special Sabbath, "a high day" (JOHN 19:31), which happened to fall this year on Thursday. For us today, it would be like if Christmas fell on Thursday, that would be a special day. Yet Sunday would also still be the weekly special day. The Jew's first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was that Thursday, and Friday was a regular work day, when the women could have prepared the spices to anoint His body. See Biblical Chronology.
So how about Easter itself, where did it come from? Many are surprised to learn that the word Easter is never used in the Gospels. In fact, only once in the entire King James version of the Bible can the word Easter be found.
- ACTS 12:4 And when he [Herod] had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
The word translated Easter here in ACTS is pascha in the Greek. This word pascha is used over seventy times in the Bible and only here, this one time, is it translated Easter. In every other occurrence it is translated Passover. The Passover was the Jewish feast celebrating Yahweh (GOD) delivering Israel out of bondage in the land of Egypt. While they were slaves in Egypt, Moses had commanded them to slay a lamb and sprinkle the blood on the door post, promising them that the angel of death would not visit their house but pass over if they did so. Thus originated the Passover Feast.
Not only did the Passover festival give the Hebrews a time for reflection, but more importantly it was instituted by Yahweh to point unto the ultimate sacrifice of HIS own Son, the very Lamb of GOD, Yeshua. He was their Passover Lamb, which their religious leaders unknowingly sacrificed that year.
So one has to wonder, what has today's Easter celebration got do with all this Passover stuff. Very little! Our Easter revolves around boiling, painting, hiding and then finding chicken eggs. Why? This is the story.
The origins of the name Easter is not known for sure. Most scholars accept it as pagan, probably derived from Eastre (or Eostre), the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of spring and fertility. The Venerable Saint Bede, (672-735), an early Christian scholar, reportedly asserted this first in his book De Ratione Temporum.
Ancient man followed and worshipped the Sun with great attention. As they watched it drift southward in autumn, they felt winter descend from the north. Thus they held feasts and celebrations to assure its return again in the spring. Then in the spring, during the "Vernal Equinox" they celebrated its return as the beginning of the spring season. Thus they had many customs and traditions associated with the Sun's movements. Though called by many names in the pagan world, springtime was a great celebration of life anew. Crops were beginning to grow, trees were budding and rivers were rising.
The resurrection of Yeshua, "the first born from the dead", was gradually merged with the pagan Easter celebrations. As the early Church was made up of many pagan converts, they naturally brought with them their rites, symbols and customs, which were associated with Easter. Failing to ardently measure these practices with Scripture, many in the early Church accepted them as their own.
Sun worshippers predate Christianity by thousands of years. Many believed that the Sun was a god that traveled across the sky during the day, then at night had to fight its way back through the underworld so as to be able to rise again in the east. The worship of the Babylonian god Tamuz was thus shown by the Lord to Ezekiel in a vision.
- EZEKIEL 8:13-16 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD'S [Yahweh's] house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
- And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
From Easter Candles, Lilies, Hot Cross Buns and Sunrise Services, many traditions associated with Easter have pagan origins. The ability of the rabbit to quickly multiply in the spring, is why it is such a big player in their Easter celebration. It was also sacred to the Goddess Eostre, being sacrificed to her. Supposedly, the hare was originally a bird, which Eostre changed into a rabbit. Eggs were painted with bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring.
It is hard for us to imagine that the early apostles and disciples of our Lord could ever have endorsed in any way these pagan practices. No doubt, after the true Church was gathered together into heaven in A.D. 70 a later generation wove these pagan rites into their Church Traditions.