What Is Resurrection Sunday?
April 8, 2007 – Resurrection Sunday
Some interesting stats: (Pulled these from somewhere and would credit them if I could remember where I got it).
Did the apostles Peter and Paul celebrate Easter? Did they hide eggs brought by a large bunny or eat chocolate? What did they get excited about during Easter?
Let’s go back in time and examine how the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection has become what it is today. The best place to begin is at the beginning.
The apostles did celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. In fact, that is the subject that most often got them in trouble when they preached (Ac. 4:2; Ac. 23:6). If you examine the Scriptures, you will find that those listening to the apostles were OK with the teachings of Jesus and the teachings about Jesus until they mentioned the resurrection. The apostles were preaching the resurrection with conviction. They were eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus (1 Jn. 1:1-4). They saw Him tortured and crucified. They witnessed His death. They mourned for three days after His death. They examined the empty tomb and saw Him in His resurrected body on several occasions. They witnessed His ascension. They all lived and died for their beliefs.
Easter, which from this point on I will call Resurrection Sunday, represents the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. He is alive. The grave did not hold Him. Death did not defeat Him. He, through death, defeated death and sin. Paul states it beautifully in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 this way, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
Resurrection Sunday is all about commemorating His resurrection.
If Resurrection Sunday is all about commemorating Jesus’ resurrection then why do we have things like the name “Easter”, eggs, bunnies, and chocolate? Is this not a time for family as well?
Let’s work our way back through the list.
Family: The greatest thing a family can do together is worship together. The time after Sunday service should be enjoyed together as a family. The key is to keep Christ in focus throughout the day. Do not leave Him at church thinking you have done your duty for the day. Embrace Him and rejoice in what He has done for you.
Chocolate: Chocolate entered into the picture in the early 1800s in England. Another example of the world attaching itself to something that is good in order to commercialize the holiday and generate substantial revenue. I would consider 1.9 billion dollars as substantial.
Bunnies: The rabbit in many pagan cultures is recognized as a sign of fertility. The rabbit was a part of pagan religious practices for centuries prior to them being attached to the Easter scenario.
Eggs: Eggs represent new life in many pagan cultures. The egg represents new life found in springtime. The egg hunt introduces the idea of rabbits, fertile creatures, laying eggs, brining forth new life as a blessing from the gods.
The name “Easter”: The term is believed to have come from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess. She was viewed as the goddess of fertility, again associated with the new life of spring.
How did these practices become a part of Resurrection Sunday?
We have Constantine, a Roman ruler, to thank once again for introducing many of these things into the Christian’s celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Even the date was chosen during the Nicene Council of 325 A.D.. The date was chosen to correspond with the pagan holiday honoring the coming of spring. He introduced the name Easter. Some of the other practices were added over time by various cultures.
Resurrection Sunday is not about bunnies, pagan goddesses, eggs, or chocolate. Resurrection Sunday is a day to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. It is a day to lift Him up in love and worship. It is a day to affirm your belief in the resurrection of Jesus and the future resurrection of the saints.
Give glory to God this Resurrection Sunday.
Rev. Leonard R. Traina
Principle for Life