What does Easter mean to you?
Some people want to call me on the carpet simply for using the word “Easter.” “Easter is not in the Bible; it’s tied to a pagan goddess!” True, but neither is the word “Christmas” in the Bible, and I doubt any evangelical Christians are celebrating Christ’s Mass (the literal meaning of the word).
So why is the resurrection of Christ tied to the word Easter? We know the dating of the resurrection is in the Spring, in conjunction with the timing of the Jewish Passover. Generally, this falls around April, which in Old English was Eostre. Yes, Eostre was also the name of a pagan goddess associated with Spring, and the month of April back in that time was named after this goddess. When Christians first began using the term Easter, they were not acknowledging a pagan goddess, but the time of year.
If this still concerns you, keep in mind that our modern-day calendar refers to several pagan gods and goddesses. January is named after the god Janus, March is named after the god Mars, May is named after the goddess Maiesta, and June is named after the god Juno.
It’s what we do with our kids during this season that has far greater pagan connections. Festivals to the goddess of Spring are reminiscent of the ancient worship of Baal and Asherah condemned in the Old Testament. Like the Spring goddess, these were gods of fertility, and worship of these in the Spring was in hopes the gods would give them fertile animals, fertile wives, and abundant harvests. What better represents fertility than an egg, and what animal is as fertile as a rabbit?
I am in no way shaming anyone for letting their kids hunt Easter eggs or get a stomach-ache from eating chocolate Easter bunnies. (If someone offers me a Cadbury egg, I will not turn it away.) But I do want to keep the focus and emphasis on Christ—the resurrected Christ! Just as we have “sanctified” so many Christmas traditions that originated with pagan practices, we can take this time of Easter and point to the One who doesn’t give us new life for a season but gives us new life for eternity.
Let me return to my original question before I chased this rabbit (pun intended). What does Easter mean to you?
I asked this question online and received a variety of great answers. It means new life … a new creation … spiritual rebirth … the defeat of death … eternal life with my Savior … victory and hope. The most common response I received was one word:
I know that answer seems a tad broad, but it’s spot on. The resurrection of Christ changes everything. If Christ had not been raised, I’ve wasted my life. It doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do. I still die—and stay dead.
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).
But Christ has been raised, and all who believe and trust in Him will also experience resurrection.
“God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (6:14).
This changes my outlook on life. It changes my behavior. It gives me joy and peace because I know that nothing—no matter how bad it may seem—will keep me from a new, eternal life with Christ. Yes, the resurrection of Christ changes everything for me.
Has that truth changed everything for you?
“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
So, during the week of Easter, if someone asks you, “What does Easter mean to you?” what would you say?
Related Post: Did Jesus Really Rise from the dead?
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Thank you Lynn, I’m going to share this with my class!
Thanks, Lynn. Just one point I hope you can clarify for me. If we use only Romans 10:9 when witnessing to someone, are we neglecting the ideas of confession of sin and the need for repentance?
Troy, I suppose someone could come to that conclusion if he had no understanding of the words beyond his own definition or understanding, We must understand the words as Paul meant them. It also helps to remember that Paul didn’t set out to write just verse 9; he wrote the whole book of Romans. Romans 10:9 needs to be read in light of everything Paul said in the preceding nine chapters. He explained why we need salvation, which includes a long treatise on our sinfulness. He skillfully explained what salvation entails—including justification, redemption, adoption, propitiation, sanctification, and glorification. So to “confess” is an admission of the truth of the gospel, which includes our need to turn from sin and turn to Christ.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people think if they believe Jesus—acknowledge a few facts—that is sufficient. I believe Jesus would include them in his indictment: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8).
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Thank you, Lynn. I would hope and think that anyone who truly shared the gospel would not just do so with that one verse, only.
I can do all things through a verse taken out of context.