The meaning of Easter is Jesus Christ’s victory over death. His resurrection symbolizes the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him. The meaning of Easter also symbolizes the complete verification of all that Jesus preached and taught during His three-year ministry. If He had not risen from the dead, if He had merely died and not been resurrected, He would have been considered just another teacher or Rabbi. However, His resurrection changed all that and gave final and irrefutable proof that He was really the Son of God and that He had conquered death once and for all.
However, Easter did not always symbolize Christ’s resurrection from the dead and the meaning of Easter was quite different than what Christians celebrate today. The feast day of Easter was originally a pagan celebration of renewal and rebirth. Celebrated in the early spring, it honored the pagan Saxon goddess Eastre. When the early missionaries converted the Saxons to Christianity, the holiday, since it fell around the same time as the traditional memorial of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, was merged with the pagan celebration, and became know as Easter. The meaning of Easter was also changed to reflect its new Christian orientation.
Today, the meaning of Easter, for million of Christians, is that of honoring and recognizing Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and His glorious promises of eternal life for all who believe in Him.
Origin of Easter – A Christian Commemoration
The origin of Easter, a holiday associated with the observance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is actually based on an ancient pagan celebration. Christians recognize this day as commemorating the culminating event of their faith, but like so many other “Christian” holidays, Easter has become commercialized and mixed with non-christian traditions like the Easter Bunny, Easter parades and hunting for Easter eggs. How did this happen?
Origin of Easter – Its Pagan Roots
The origin of Easter dates back to ancient times, not long after the global Flood recorded in Genesis 6-9 of the Bible. Nimrod, a grandson of Noah, had turned from following his grandfather’s God and had become a tyrannical ruler. According to the biblical record, as king, Nimrod created Babel, Ninevah, Asshur, Calla and other cities, all known for lifestyles that promoted unspeakable evil and perversion. When Nimrod died, his wife, Queen Semiramis, deified him as the Sun-god, or Life Giver. Later he would become known as Baal, and those who followed the religion Semiramis created in his name would be called Baal worshippers. They became associated with idolatry, demon worship, human sacrifice and other practices regarded as evil.
The origin of Easter involves the birth of Semiramis’ illegitimate son, Tammuz. Somehow, Semiramis convinced the people that Tammuz was actually Nimrod reborn. Since people had been looking for the promised savior since the beginning of mankind (see Genesis 3:15), they were persuaded by Semiramis to believe that Tammuz was that savior, even that he had been supernaturally conceived. Before long, in addition to worshipping Tammuz (or Nimrod reborn), the people also worshipped Semiramis herself as the goddess of fertility. In other cultures, she has been called Ishtar, Ashtur and yes, Easter.
The origin of Easter goes back to the springtime ritual instituted by Semiramis following the death of Tammuz, who, according to tradition, was killed by a wild boar. Legend has it that through the power of his mother’s tears, Tammuz was “resurrected” in the form of the new vegetation that appeared on the earth.
According to the Bible, it was in the city of Babel that the people created a tower in order to defy God. Up until that time, all the people on the earth spoke one language. The building of the tower led God, as recorded in Genesis 11:7, to confuse their tongues to keep them from being further unified in their false beliefs. As the people moved into other lands, many of them took their pagan practices with them.
Contemporary traditions such as the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg can also be traced back to the practices established by Semiramis. Because of their prolific nature, rabbits have long been associated with fertility and its goddess, Ishtar. Ancient Babylonians believed in a fable about an egg that fell into the Euphrates River from heaven and from which Queen Astarte (another name for Ishtar or Semiramis) was “hatched.”
Origin of Easter – Resurrection Day for Christians
For Christians, the origin of Easter is simply the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ about 2,000 years ago. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus Christ, the true Messiah promised in the Old Testament, was crucified and resurrected at the time of the Jewish Passover. Since that awesome event took place, those who believe Christ is their Messiah have honored that day and often celebrated it with the traditional Passover. As the Gospel of Christ spread throughout non-jewish nations, among people who did not have a history of celebrating the Passover, the pagan rites of Easter gradually became assimilated into what the Christian church called “Resurrection Day.” Compromising the commandments of God with the comfort of the world is as old as the nation of Israel itself. Actually, American history teaches us that Easter was dismissed as a pagan holiday by the nation’s founding Puritans and did not begin to be widely observed until just after the Civil War. Those interested in a Christian view of American history and the gradual compromise of America’s Biblical foundations may wish to read books such as The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel.
Easter Origin – A One-time Event
Easter origin, as a Christian holiday, can be found in the pages of scripture itself. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, all followers of Jesus, offer their own unique eyewitness accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is this culminating event of Christianity that is celebrated on Easter Sunday every year.
Easter Origin – The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Easter origin actually began as a part of the Jewish Passover, as Christ was crucified and resurrected during Passover week. Christ is believed by Christians to actually be the Passover Lamb spoken of in Exodus, for He Himself became the perfect, sinless sacrifice for the sins of all people. Jews who chose to follow Christ then honored this day in succeeding years during the Passover season, but as Christianity was spread throughout non-christian nations, the celebration of Easter was gradually combined with pagan “rites of spring” traditions. Modern celebrations are the result of this compromise. At the same time, Easter is often the only day that many people attend church and are introduced to the “Good News” of Jesus Christ.
Easter Origin – Christ Revealed in the Jewish Passover
Easter origin can be traced to the Passover ceremony itself. Christian scholars believe that the Old Testament is Christ concealed, while the New Testament is Christ revealed. Let’s hold the elements of the Passover up to the light of the life of Christ. By tradition, the lamb to be sacrificed during the Passover was selected four days before the sacrifice was to be made. Jesus rode into Jerusalem four days before He was crucified. The lamb was customarily slain at 3 p.m. on Passover. Jesus uttered the words “it is finished” and died on the cross at 3 p.m. (this is known traditionally as Good Friday, but many Bible scholars have determined the crucifixion to be on a Wednesday or Thursday). The festival of Unleavened Bread began at sunset. One of the rituals involved the sacrifice of a grain offering, representing the first fruits of the harvest. Jesus, according to the Apostle Paul, became the first fruits of those raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). During the Passover dinner, three matzahs are put together. Christians see these matzahs as representative of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The middle matzah is broken, as Christ said at the Last Supper, “This is My body, broken for you.” The middle matzah is also striped and pierced, as Jesus was during His crucifixion, and as was prophesied in Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 22:16 and Zechariah 12:10. This matzah is then wrapped in a white cloth and hidden, just as Christ was wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb.
Easter Origin – The Biblical Accounts
Easter (also known as Resurrection Day), is the event upon which the entire Christian faith hinges. Paul, once a Jewish leader hostile to Christians, became a convert when he met Jesus on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9). As an eyewitness of Christ, Paul made it abundantly clear that without the resurrection, there is no basis for faith in Christ: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12-29)
When Christ was born, He fulfilled a number of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. By the time of His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, He had fulfilled more than 300 of them. These numbers alone provide staggering evidence that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah. So it is with good reason that Christians the world over regard Easter as a very special event. But in the early days of the church, most Christians were Jewish converts. Because Jesus was crucified and rose again during the Passover season, their celebration of Christ’s resurrection was acknowledged during that annual observance of the deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Christian Jews (or Messianic Jews) consider the Passover to be symbolic of the time when Christ set all believers free from the penalty of sin (through His death on the cross) and death (through His resurrection from the dead).
Easter Origin – What Does the Resurrection Mean to You?
Easter origin? Can a man who claims to be God and then rises from the dead actually be God in human form? Is He someone you should follow? C.S. Lewis asked those same questions and came to the conclusion that there are only three possibilities. Jesus Christ claimed to be God. Therefore, to say He is just a “good man” or “great teacher” is to call him a liar. Any sane person who would claim to be God, but who in fact, is not, must then be a madman – a lunatic! If Christ is neither a liar nor a lunatic, then there is only one other possible conclusion – He must be the Lord! If He is the Lord, what does Resurrection Day mean to you?
Is Jesus God? The Historical Dispute
Is Jesus God? The answer to this question is the only real dispute surrounding the historical Jesus. No legitimate scholar today denies that Jesus is a historic figure that walked on this earth about 2,000 years ago, that he did remarkable wonders and acts of charity, and that He died a horrible death on a Roman cross just outside Jerusalem. The emotionally-charged dispute focuses specifically on whether Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead three days after His Crucifixion.
Is Jesus God? The Only Alternatives
Is Jesus God? Many people have dealt with this “spiritual” dispute by intellectually accepting Jesus as a great man, great teacher, or great prophet. However, Jesus and His inspired followers didn’t mince words when they declared Him to be God (John 10:30-38, Matthew 16:13-17, Mark 14:61-64, John 14:6, Hebrews 1:8, Colossians 1:16, John 12:40-41 [quoting Isaiah 6:1-10]). Therefore, any type of intellectual compromise calling Jesus a “good man” is logically inconsistent. Why? Because there are really only three legitimate alternatives for the identity of Jesus Christ. He is either a liar, a lunatic or our Lord and God. Since Jesus claimed to be God, His claims are either true or false. If false, He must have been a liar, deliberately misleading the multitudes. Or, He was a lunatic, sincerely believing Himself to be God, when in reality He was just a man. However, if Jesus was a “good man,” as most people now agree, how then could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? There is only one logically consistent alternative – He must have been telling the truth. In addition to the logical inconsistency, the remarkable historical, archaeological and manuscript evidence shows that Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic. Again, the only position left is that His claim is true. Jesus is Lord and God.
The only real argument that remains, is that Jesus was just a legend or myth. There is little likelihood that Jesus’ claims are legend. There just wasn’t enough time for any legendary development of the story to replace what really happened. For instance, we now know that the Gospels were written 30 to 50 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. More dramatically, we now date some of the early Christian creeds, proclaiming the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, to 3 to 10 years after His crucifixion. This includes Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, Romans and Galatians. Finally, if Jesus’ claim of deity was a myth, the early Jewish opponents of Christianity would surely have presented the fact that these claims never happened. Unlike modern skeptics, the Jewish rabbis never denied that Jesus made the claim that He was God. Instead, they called Him a liar, and tried Him for blasphemy.
Is Jesus God? The Only Answer
Is Jesus God? Once you have asked all your questions, weighed all the evidence, and tested all the arguments, you will ultimately be confronted with this question. In Mathew 16:15, Jesus put it this way, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ One of His disciples, Simon Peter, replied: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ What is your reply?