I've heard it said that during Holy Week in Eastern Europe, Christians there often greet each other with the phrase, "Christ is Risen!" And, without exception the response comes back to them, "He is Risen Indeed!"
I stand in awe at their awareness, excitement and the reality they have for the "Resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior!!" For surely, Jesus resurrection is the only reason we have hope for eternal life with Him in heaven!!
The enemy does not care what the world does, but sadly the devil has invaded the church of Jesus Christ and we have believed his lies enough to lay aside the wisdom of God for our own ridiculous ideas of wisdom! We have traded our identity in Christ Jesus for the viewpoints of this world!
As this week comes to a close, the world and Christians alike will be celebrating "Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!" Many parents will take their children to see the "Easter Bunny" they might even take a picture with him. Eggs will be colorfully decorated and hidden for the children to find, baskets will be filled with chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, candies, stuffed animals or even a toy in all this grandeur... and most will do it without even a second thought to "WHY?"
Of course these are the customary, traditional events and there is nothing wrong with eating chocolate or other candies. Still, we must remember what happened to God's people when they failed to teach future generations "God's Ways!"
Let's take a look back in history:
The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord's anger because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. Judges 2:7-13
So, why is it that we celebrate Easter? Have we forgotten where God found us and where we are now??
Let's go back once more in history:
Why do only English speakers celebrate "Easter?" Most other people around the world called the holiday observed by Christians by some variant of the word "Pascha."
This can be blamed on a woman, an uncommon and distinctive woman, the Goddess Ostara, or Eostre. Eostre is described by scholars as a "Fertility Goddess" and a "Goddess of Dawn and Light," thus making the semantic link between Eostre and the word east.
An English monk Bede, often called the "Father of English History" tells how the former pagans called the month, marking Jesus' resurrection "Eosturmonab" - Old English for the "Month of Eostre," or the goddess mentioned above.
In the 1950's archeological evidence was found that supported Bede's reference to the goddess Eostre in England. In almost every other international language, the holiday is called by some distinction of "Pesach," the Hebrew word for the Passover holiday/sacrifice.
Steven Fassberg, a Hebrew University Professor wrote an essay during this period of history, marking the "birth of the Christian church," because both Hebrew and Aramaic were used in the Galilee, where Jesus' ministry was based. In Aramaic the holiday is called "Pascha" in Hebrew the word is "Pesach."
Today, the Aramaic word "Pascha" means the true Christian celebration of Jesus' resurrection, not the Jewish Passover.
Why then is it that one of the two major Christian holidays is named after a pagan deity?? MORE IMPORTANTLY, why is the name not only tolerated by Christians, but happily adapted, embraced and conformed in using "Easter" as our remembrance of Jesus' Resurrection??
Think of it... the goddess Eostre represents fertility -- so we have our children decorating and looking for of all things, eggs!
Think of it... the goddess Eostre represents dawn and light -- so we have "Sunrise Services" looking for the sun to rise in the eastern skies!
Historically Easter is not the first instance of a pagan ritual described by Bede infused with Christian meaning. Bede describes the Anglo-Saxon Pagans' Modraniht, (Old English for "Night of the Mothers") that was held on December 24 -- or our Christmas Eve (lets save that for another day).
I have to wonder what our Savior thinks, after all Jesus often stood alone, He had come to His own and His own did not receive Him. (John 1:11 NIV) As he was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane, his disciples fled (Matthew 26:56 NIV) The crowds who had shouted "Hosanna" soon shouted "Crucify him... Crucify Him!" (Matthew 27:22 NIV) and the saddest for me, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34 NIV)
Forsaken not only by human friends and companions, in Jesus' most lonely hours, while bearing our sins in His own body on the cross, Jesus endured suffering and judgement of Hell for you and for me.
Are we foolishly absurd enough to believe we can continue to conform to this worlds belief's and at the same time claim to have accepted, loved and believed in Jesus as our Savior??