Every Spring, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Vernal equinox we celebrate Easter. If you are a Christian person reading this, you know that we observe Easter to commemorate the Saving work Jesus did on the cross for all who may choose to believe. You may not have realized that there are members of the body who very strongly believe Christians as a whole should not have anything to do with Easter (or as some feel more comfortable calling it, Resurrection Sunday).
This year I wanted to take the time to look into some of the reasons a Christian would argue against keeping Easter and see if their arguments hold water. In all things, it is important to use critical thinking skills and a part of that is looking into opposing views in order to understand where their thinking is based and how it may relate to our own. The danger of not doing this is that we can fall into group thinking (“following the crowd” so to speak) and not understand how to defend what we believe. We must follow the God-given advice of 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 which teaches us to test everything, to hold onto what is good and to reject what is evil. It is why we are taught to walk by the Spirit in Galatians 5. To more closely examine why we celebrate Easter I am using an article I found online titled 10 Compelling Reasons Christians Should Not Keep Easter. Today we will talk through six of the ten (for sake of time) arguments presented to see if they are sound.
As for this post and everything else I write please do not take my words as being your Holy Spirit, only the Holy Spirit can have that role in your life. I am not He, nor do I want that role. My words must be read with discernment, pray about them, mull over them but please do not allow them to act as your Holy Spirit.
Argument #1 – Easter is Not Found in the Bible
If you are anything like me you just did a double take and read that sentence again to make sure you read it correctly the first time. This is a strawman argument and falls apart as soon as we open the Gospel,. Prophecy regarding the death and resurrection of Christ can also be found in the Old Testament. What the author of this article suggests is because the very word Easter is not used in the Bible, we should not celebrate such a holiday. The word ‘Easter’ itself never being mentioned in the Bible, this is true (though some translations do use the word in Acts 12:4 but it has been proven that is not a correct translation – which is an entirely different can of worms we are not here to discuss). Does this mean we should not drive cars, use electricity, engage in social media or drink coffee because they too are not mentioned in the Bible? Truthfully this argument is steeped in legalism and could be carried to places it ought not to be. Let’s ask ourselves another question – in the Christian faith what is Easter (Resurrection Sunday) celebrating? Jesus coming as a man (which is the celebration of Christmas) to later die for our sins, and make it possible that we may have a restored relationship with God the Father and one day live for eternity in heaven. Oh death where is your sting? If we are going to split hairs over whether or not a certain word is used in the Bible, we are going to miss the very point of the Gospel message. It is also a great way to turn people away from the faith. It has been said that Christians attack each other more than they are attacked by the outside world. Where is our witness friends?
Mark 16:6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
Romans 6:5-6 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
Argument #2 – First Century Christians Did Not Celebrate Easter.
Again these believers did not have cars or hospitals or any of the other modern day conveniences we enjoy, does this mean we simply ought to do without as they did? If we do any sort of research into history we know that the Bible was not complete until around the 5th century. Using this argument does that then mean we reject the Bible as it is written because first century Christians did not have it, how far do we want to take this folks? Also, I would beg to differ as I will be sharing tomorrow, Mary Magdalene rejoiced when Jesus called her name after He had risen from the dead and ran to tell the other disciples the good news. You cannot tell me that they did not celebrate. ‘Friday and Saturday’ may have been a dark and heavy time, Jesus was killed and it seemed like all hope was lost, but friends Sunday came!
John 20:16-18 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
Argument #3 – Easter Originated in Paganism.
We have all heard it said a time or two that Easter has pagan roots and therefore is not something people following Jesus should participate in. Again, defining our terms is crucial. If we are using Easter to celebrate the god (god, with a little g) Ishtar which is where the name Easter is said to have originated then yes I would propose we are walking on dangerous ground. In the Christian church we celebrate Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross for all that may believe, not any pagan god or goddess. This view is likely why there are some believers who are more comfortable using the term Resurrection Sunday. It can be boiled down to a Romans 13 issue, the Holy Spirit of God convicts all of us differently and we all must be led by the Spirit in making the decisions that are right for our personal family, if you feel uncomfortable using the term Easter, than feel free to call it Resurrection Sunday but but throwing the baby out with the bathwater so to speak is a little extreme. We can celebrate the events of Jesus’ resurrection no matter what term feel led to use. The issue of celebrating the holiday is found in its definition. Hear me loud and clear, if we are celebrating Easter to bow down to Ishtar yes that is a problem. We are not to have any other God before our Lord and Savior. A true Christian celebrates Resurrection Sunday for the redeeming work Christ did on the cross.
Argument #4 – We are not free to celebrate holidays from other religions.
This argument feeds into the last in that the author is looking at Easter having Pagan roots. It is very true we are not meant to be celebrating holidays of other religions. Please do not go celebrating things that would not honor the Lord such as Ramadam or Buddha’s birthday. That end of the argument holds up, what does not work is to say we are to avoid observing all that Jesus accomplished on the cross for us. Those are things that must be celebrated. I do not for a second believe that God is some harsh task master in heaven with His arms crossed shaking His head at all that would dare celebrate Easter. I do believe He is the truth behind John 10:10 – the God who came that we might have abundance and that we are free to celebrate all that would honor Him. That He wants and encourages us to glorify Him through the celebration of Easter.
Argument #5 – The symbols of Easter have nothing to do with Jesus.
This is another area where we must be cognizant of Romans 13 and do what we feel is right as we walk by the Spirit. If you are convicted to have nothing to do with the eggs, basket and Easter bunny that come with Easter, please by all means follow the Spirits lead. It does not have to be all or nothing. We do eggs and baskets for our boys and never make mention of the Easter bunny, as it is important to me to keep Easter all about Jesus. If you have questions about the symbols behind Easter and why we use them, I encourage you to do some research! It is a fascinating study and one that would be fun to involve the entire family in. There is a book written by Beverly Rae Wiersum called The Story of Easter for Children that does a beautiful job of explaining why we use the symbols we do. As a momma to littles, I use symbolism all of the time to get my boys to understand concepts that might be harder for them to grasp. I think learning the reason behind the symbols adds a special depth to the holiday we might not otherwise have. Not of course that we celebrate Easter because of the symbols, but just as stockings commemorate Saint Nicholas (a Christian man who was known for being charitable to the poor and to children) at Christmas, the symbols used for Easter also have special meaning.
Argument #6 – We are to focus on Jesus’ death
The writer of this article makes it quite clear he/she believes that we are to focus on Jesus’ death and not His resurrection. I am sorry to say but if it weren’t for Jesus’ resurrection we would not have a faith. A lot of people were killed on a cross in Jesus’ day, there would have been nothing special if Jesus had not risen from the dead. The celebration of Easter is in His rising and defeating death, in His victory over the grave. If we are to only focus on the death of Jesus, we will completely miss the point of the Gospel.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
It is my hope that in walking through six of the ten arguments against Easter we can better defend why we celebrate Resurrection Sunday. This season is beautiful and full of meaning, it is a precious thing to celebrate a Risen Savior!
Happy upcoming Resurrection Sunday to you and yours!