So friends, I’m going to ask you for a favor. For the first time in the history of our relationship, I, “The Why Kid,” am going to ask you to give me a chance.
Given the topic of this article, I already know there are going to be some of you out there that will roll your eyes and be eager to click on the next intriguing Darling article that awaits you. But just think, we’ve been through so much together already! To this date, we’ve walked through the Christmas season, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day together; so we’re practically family! And as family, I’m asking you to hear me out in regards to Easter, which can be complicated! I want to talk about everything from Passover and crucifixions, to the lambs, bunnies and colored eggs in between.
Alright, hang on as we grasp for some historical context from some ancient texts…
Easter begins with the account of Passover found in the second book of the Bible, Exodus. Passover commemorates the time in which God led the people of Israel (the Jews) out of slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten horrendous plagues upon the country.
During the cruel and oppressive authority of Pharaoh, God sent His messenger Moses (think: 10 Commandments) to demand that Pharaoh let the people of Israel go free. When Pharaoh refused, due to his hard and prideful heart, God sent a series of plagues to demonstrate His authority over Pharoah and to give him 10 chances to change his mind, preventing further destruction of his kingdom.
Before the tenth and final plague–the death of each family’s first-born child–God instructed the Israelites to slaughter a spotless lamb (without blemish) and paint the tops of their doorposts with the blood. When the Angel of Death then passed over Egypt with the tenth plague, every house with a scarlet doorpost was actually “passed over,” and their first-born child was spared.
Despite the massive amounts of warning, Egypt awoke to find many of their children dead, including the first-born son of the embittered, unbelieving Pharaoh. It was at this that Pharaoh finally agreed to release the Israelites, and they fled so abruptly that the dough of their bread didn’t have time to rise (and trust me, this was a big deal). Thus, unleavened bread called Matzo became a symbol of remembrance for the Jewish holiday Passover. The time of Passover begins this year on April 6th, extending through to the 14th, and as Jewish congregations begin their traditional celebration, Christians also join to celebrate Easter as a three-day weekend event.
Now, let’s fast forward to the New Testament scriptures, which contain the origins of the Christian beliefs on Easter…
Jesus, God’s Son, has now come on the scene and is in the midst of His public ministry—healing the sick and teaching truths of God to thousands. As He enters Jerusalem, the entire city greets Him with praise and adoration by laying down palm leaves in His path. This is where the celebration of Palm Sunday comes from.
Who knew so much would change by the end of that week? On the following Friday (now known as Good Friday) Jesus, who was Jewish, was sharing in the Passover meal. In front of his disciples, (his 12 followers) he pauses to explain something radical. On that very night, Jesus lays bare why the Passover in Egypt was actually a foreshadowing of his coming death and resurrection (rising from the dead). Taking the unleavened bread in one hand and the cup of wine in the other, Jesus blesses both and then turns to His disciples to say:
“Take, eat; this is my body.” Speaking of the bread. And with the cup of wine He said, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26)
Within a matter of hours, Jesus was dragged away by soldiers to be tried before the Sanhedrin, (a Jewish judicial body). He was then mocked, beaten, and condemned for making the claim of being the Son of God. They believed this was the ultimate blasphemy (sacrilegious speech about God), deserving death. The Jewish leaders then took Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Roman Judea, and asked for the death sentence.
Although Pilate found him to be innocent of a crime deserving death, he gave Jesus to the Jews to do as they wished. With many of His followers mourning and confused, he was hung on a cross, died a terrible death, and was buried in a tomb.
Yet, on the third day, the scriptures say Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to many. This “resurrection” is the event celebrated in Christian churches on Easter Sunday.
So why is this so important to Christians? Well, the belief is that just as the Israelites needed the blood over their door to gain the favor of God, all humanity needs the covering of Christ’s blood over the wrongs they have done against God and others. The Passover lamb foreshadows Christ in that the Bible says he was “without sin,” something no being had ever attained, therefore making him the “spotless” sacrifice for mankind. In this context, believing in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection makes one “washed clean” or “forgiven” before God, able to abide in His presence forever. But it doesn’t stop there; many Christians also engage in a daily relationship or “friendship” with Christ through prayer and reading of the Bible, where they find continued forgiveness, freedom from guilt, and strength to live more like Christ, which is the goal of their faith.
Wow, that’s a lot of history, and by this point, you may be wondering how bunnies and eggs fit into all of this bloodiness, so let me quickly tell you.
Many believe that Easter is a celebration of the spring solstice. Bunnies are supposed to represent fertility and new birth (hence the phrase concerning rabbits…).Many ancient cultures such as the Egyptians believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus making the egg a symbol of new life. Historically, eggs were colored by dyes made from edible flowers, fruits, coffee, tea, bark, roots, and vegetables, with the art progressing over the years across different cultures that also evolved into games using the eggs.
While these commercialized traditions are fun and fluffy, this Easter let’s look beyond the bunnies, eggs, and chocolate…into a deeper place where we can find renewed hope, faith, and new life this year.
The Why Kid