Many years ago, I posed a question to a friend as we walked through a shopping mall decorated with bunnies, eggs, and palettes of pastels. “What does the bunny have to do with Easter anyways?” I asked. To which my friend replied, “It lays the eggs, duh!”
Needless to say, we had a good laugh about that one.
But interestingly enough, the word Easter along with the bunny, eggs, and so forth, have nothing to do with the origin of the Christian holiday. In fact, the word Easter only occurs once in the King James Version of the Holy Bible, which according to many Bible scholars should more accurately be translated as “Passover.”
Many historians attribute the origin of Easter from Eastre, a Norse goddess whose pagan festival was observed at the spring equinox. Through the course of time, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (also observed in the Spring) became associated with this pagan goddess, although there is no real connection. Therefore Easter came to be a general celebration of the great events of spring. The greatest of these events being the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I truly enjoy the Easter season and embrace the Easter traditions as a way to remember the opportunity that Christ gives each of us to have a fresh start. He gives us the chance to emerge from the cold, dark winter and rise up new in the springtime.
Following are a few of my favorite verses of scripture, which help me focus on Jesus Christ during the Easter season.
Isaiah 25:8 – He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.
This verse is a prophecy given many years prior to the life of Christ. Yet it gives a testimony of the Lord’s power to overcome death. In this life, we all suffer from two “deaths” – a spiritual and a physical death. To overcome the spiritual death, we must follow the Lord’s commandments and live a life worthy of the glory he offers. The reward for doing so is living with God in His Kingdom. To gain this reward we must choose to accept Christ and follow His teachings.
Yet we still have to overcome the physical death in order to live with God again. This is done through resurrection, or the rejoining of our spirits with a perfected physical body. This miracle is a gift freely given to us from a loving Heavenly Father because while we do have the power to choose for ourselves to follow Christ’s teachings and overcome spiritual death, He knows that we do not have the power to resurrect ourselves and overcome physical death.
John 10:17 – Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
However, Jesus Christ (being a member of the Godhead) overcame physical death through resurrection and thus gives us that same gift of immortality. Each person who has lived on this earth will be resurrected and made perfectly whole because of the love of God.
1 Corinthians 15:22 – For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
This is the hope that Easter gives: that each one of us will live again. Easter gives me the comfort that our death is NOT a period at the end of our lives, but rather a comma in the progression of our lives.
Luke 24:39 – Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
As we see in the words of Christ that Luke records, He invited His disciples to handle his body after His resurrection as proof that He indeed was the same person, but now with a perfect, glorified body never again subject to sickness, injury, or death.
While many Christians choose to symbolize their belief in Christ with the symbol of the cross, I choose to remember Christ as a resurrected being, alive and well rather than dying and hanging on the cross. I am truly grateful for the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made in the garden of Gethsemane, the Atonement He made for me. Yet I don’t want to remember Him bleeding and dying. I want to remember the glorified being that is resurrected! I want to remember my God that is living now!
Job 19:25 – For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
This verse perfectly sums up my feelings about the Easter season. I know that my Redeemer lives. I am grateful that He gives us the gift of the resurrection. I know that I will live after this life. Death does not bring fear of the unknown. I know I will have a perfected body in the next life.
But for now in this life, it is my challenge and responsibility to overcome weakness and frailties. I am eternally grateful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His forgiveness, His comfort, His guidance, and His unconditional love that comforts me and gives me hope for a glorious future.