To Celebrate Easter or To Not Celebrate Easter–The Ongoing Debate in Christianity
There is a lot of controversy within the Christian community as to whether or not they should celebrate Easter. The debate is because the traditional Christian celebration for the Resurrection of Christ falls on the Pagan Spring Equinox called Easter where Pagans of the past worshiped other gods on that day as part of their Spring festival.
My family too began to question whether or not we should celebrate as well. Yet, as I’ve read more of the bible, I’ve come to a place where I feel the proper understanding of the holiday and its biblical basis is important.
From this, our family has come to a place of loving Spring because it does remind of Jesus. While we don’t pretend there is an Easter Bunny, we happily celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and give praise to God for the Spring season on the same American Holiday of Easter. This is why:
God’s Seasons are Prophetic
Genesis 1:14 – And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.
What a lot of people don’t realize is perfectly planned for Christ to resurrect from the dead in the Spring. And I don’t think God does anything without full knowledge and planning. Not only to Christ resurrect in the Spring, he resurrected on a Jewish Spring Feast called The Feast of First Fruits. Now I know it is not Spring around the world at the same time due to the various Hemispheres, but Israel is in the same hemisphere as America and so we get the benefit of seeing its correlation with Spring the way the Israelites did. And God gave Christ first the Jews and then extended that gift to the rest of the world.
The Jews commemorate God’s grace over them on Passover as they remember how God sent the angel of darkness over Egypt killing the first-born of all the Egyptians but sparing the Hebrews, who in obedience to Moses’s direction painted sacrificial blood over their door posts in spots that would actually create a cross if connected. Every year they were to remember that day by sacrificing a lamb without blemish and eating bread without leaven. This bread is pierced in the heat as it is cooked and the fire often leaves stripes across it. Many Messianic Jews continue to celebrate Passover, but now recognizing that it was prophetic of the death of their own Messiah, the first-born of God who was perfect and unblemished. He died on the day during Passover week when the lamb of God is to be sacrificed. And his blood on the cross now protects them from the Angel of eternal death. Christ reminds us in the gospels that the Passover Bread is to remind us of his body that was pierced and broken for us and the accompanying wine is to remind of his blood that was shed for us in stripes across his back and in the piercings of his hands and feet.
Leviticus 23: 15-17: ” ‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of first fruits to the LORD.
Right after Passover ends, the Jews are also to celebrate God’s grace through the season of Spring. This Feast is called The Feast of First Fruits and they give thanks to God for the early crop that comes in Spring.
This is an especially joyful occasion given that in Winter, trees become barren as the leaves die. But when spring comes, the first sprout of green leaves reminds them that Spring is here and the early crops become ripe for harvest.
God in the Old testament often asked for the first of everything. First borne sons were to work in the temple and become Levites, first crops were to be given to God, etc. The Feast of First Fruits were to be given to the Levites, God’s first-born of all the Jew who were to live strictly on God’s grace and provision as they worked in the temple, and not by any man-made method, unlike the rest of God’s tribes who worked the traditional way.
God did not have Christ resurrect from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits on accident.
Christ fulfills this prophetic Feast in the Prophetic season of Spring. Christ is the First Fruit of all who will be resurrected on the last day. God showed that he has power over death by raising his son back to life. And he preempted that for thousands of years every Spring. Spring reminds us that God has power over death. That he can restore the barren and desolate and bring forth life and vitality. Today it serves not as prophecy but as a reminder of what God did for us through Christ and the promise that we too have been given new life, eternal life, and do not need to fear death any longer or the spiritual barrenness and death that this fallen world breeds.
Why Do American Christians Celebrate Easter Then and Not The Feast of First Fruits?
The Catholic Church years ago, when trying to Christianize the Pagan world, found that within a few days of the Feast of First Fruits, the pagans were celebrating spring. In order to evangelize to them, they used that holiday to preach the resurrected Christ and celebrated this on the same day. In the same way, Good Friday is the Christian version of Passover, and is not actually on the same day, but around it (in order to keep it about 3 days before Easter). Good Friday and Easter are not on the more accurate days of Passover and the Feast of First Fruits (the true anniversaries of Christ’s death and resurrection). They were compromises the Catholic church made in order to evangelize to a Pagan world. Is this necessarily wrong? That is to be debated. But I believe there is biblical reasons to justify their cause. Paul often ate swine and even meat sacrificed to other gods in order to evangelize to the Greeks and Romans of his time. He was able to do this with a clear conscience knowing that God made all animals clean and that these so-called gods were nothing. He had not sacrificed them to idols. His God was sovereign over his life. God has power over all. HE explained this to the Colossians here:
Colossians 2: 16-17 – Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day– things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ
Today, we continue to live in a world filled with unbelievers. They are the modern-day Pagan who do not worship the Living God, but chase after other “gods.” Most American’s celebrate Easter with only a selection using it as a day to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. For most, it is simply a celebration of Spring. And many with children add the Easter bunny. Some go to the other extreme.
I had some Jehovah” Witnesses come to my door the other day, inviting me to their temple to commemorate the death of Jesus. I asked them– “Do you have a service that celebrates Christ’s resurrection?” They shook their head no. I exclaimed, “Why not? If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is useless, right?” I went on to explain the joy of celebrating the risen Christ and God’s power over death. I clarified that commemorating his death is good, but to not forget the best part. They were speechless. They had nothing to say except that they agreed Jesus’s resurrection was important in establishing his future kingdom. I’m hoping that they realize their fear of celebrating the pagan holiday of Easter has lead them actually away from celebrating the Living Christ! It doesn’t have to be Easter if they don’t like that day. I get it. But celebrate the Feast of First Fruits then!
This too may motivate some of you to no longer celebrate Easter and to instead celebrate his resurrection on the actual day of Feast of First Fruits. Some may choose to now celebrate or commemorate Christ’s Death on the first day of Passover. Some may want to continue to celebrate on Good Friday and Easter Sunday as an evangelism tool to their friends and family who do not know or have a relationship with Jesus. I think this is where it becomes a personal conviction. But I personally don’t think one is more right than the other.
As a family, we remember that God gave us Spring to remember his Power and his Son. We know that Paul reminds is to be joyful in all things and be thankful in all things. We do not believe there is anything wrong with celebrating the arrival of Spring.
But we also don’t think one can properly appreciate the arrival of Spring without acknowledging its purpose in our lives both physically with majestic beauty of its flowers and fruit as well as spiritually–with Christ being the first fruit of our future resurrection and God’s majestic grace in our lives by giving us his son–the bread and water that will never leave us hungry or thirsty.
We don’t include the Easter Bunny (personally, I feel convicted by doing this because I feel it’s lying and fear that if my kids learn I made the Easter bunny up on the same day as Christ, maybe Christ is just a lie too). And we don’t even do Easter baskets or hunts. Although I don’t think there is anything really wrong with Easter baskets as long as kid’s know the real celebration of the day and are taught about why we correlate spring with Jesus. I did a lesson with my own kids on the topic and will be linking it here soon so you can see how I did this. And when I do celebrate Spring with my family members who do not know Jesus, I will be sure to share why Spring reminds me of Jesus, and how perfectly and poetically God planned the day of his Resurrection.
Even non-believers cannot say they did not see God in his creation. Spring is one of the many ways God reveals himself to us.
Romans 1:20 – For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Also visit the Christian mommy blogger for great talking points with your kids about the significance of this season. Or at Equipping Godly Women.
Please share– did this help you get a better understanding of Spring, Easter, and Christ’s Resurrection? I would love for you to respond in the comments how this has helped you or whether or not you celebrate Easter and Why. Also–if this did help you, I encourage you to share it with your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
Happy Spring and Happy Resurrection Day!