Easter is a unique holiday. It's observed by most Christians to honor the resurrection of Jesus--His victory over death. But, what do Peter Cottontail, egg hunts, bonnets, and baskets have to do with it? 80% of Americans will celebrate Easter this year by spending about 13 billion dollars on these traditions. But do they really honor the resurrection of Jesus? Sure, it's fun to hide colored eggs, eat chocolate, buy new clothes and maybe attend a church service.
But the question remains: Is God honored by these traditions? And who decides the right way to worship? Is it just harmless fun? Or does it really matter? And how can you know? You might be surprised to learn that the Bible has a lot to say about this subject, because it does matter how we choose to honor God.
Prepare to be challenged here on Beyond Today as we take a close look at Easter Exposed .
Perhaps you've taken time to buy chocolate bunnies and color eggs and hide them for your children. Your church might be preparing a special program that illustrates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's a time that age old traditions come back to life during Easter celebrations.
Now most Christians today observe the holiday, yet there are many questions surrounding it. Do you believe the Easter story and its traditions? Have you ever wondered if Jesus would celebrate Easter? And is it possible that He wasn't even raised back to life on Sunday morning? Some Christians you know don't believe that He was.
So let's take an in-depth, straightforward look at what many churches call the most important day of the year--the one that celebrates the central event of Christian faith: the resurrection of Christ.
Let's start by asking, where did Easter celebrations come from? Did you know that they were held centuries before Christ? Now it's true! Thousands of years ago, long before Christ was ever born, pagan tribes of Europe worshipped a beautiful goddess of spring named Eostre.
Historians believe the word Easter is a variation of her name. They sound very similar, don't they? They celebrated the end of winter and the birth of spring. This happened at the vernal equinox when the daylight portion of the day began to be longer than nighttime, in the Northern Hemisphere.
So there is a connection between Easter and the ancient traditions of worshiping the rising sun.
Now whether the Babylonian Eostre or Ishtar; or the Phoenecian Astarte; it seems almost every ancient society had their version of a fertility goddess to worship.
Where do you find the traditions associated with Easter? You find them in ancient history but you won't find them in your Bible. Should you worship God through tradition? Especially non-biblical tradition? Those traditions that were devised hundreds of years before Christ by, by ancient peoples to worship multiple mythological gods? Does that make sense?
Now here's one curious custom that I had always wondered about. Perhaps you have too. Why does the Easter bunny build a nest and fill it with eggs? That doesn't seem to make sense.
But did you know, legends hold that the Easter bunny was originally a large, beautiful bird that belonged to the goddess Eostre. Now one day she magically changed her pet bird into a hare. Of course, the hare held on to its nest and its eggs. That's where it came from. Hares and rabbits, they're symbols of new life in the spring, symbols of fertility.
So when you think about all of that information, it was done to worship false gods and then later blended into Christianity and the traditions of Easter.
Now there were also Egyptian and Roman customs of giving eggs as gifts in the spring. You see they also believed that the receiver would have a successful or productive year if you gave them an egg.
Now, obviously the Easter bunny, colored eggs, those things have nothing to do with Jesus Christ but…those traditions were adopted into the symbolism of Easter. Christianity blended traditions--those pagan traditions--and it helped early Christianity. It helped the church to merge with non-believing pagans. They could bring their heathen practices and call them Christian.
Now, when I learned these things, I had to ask myself the question: Is that how I should honor Christ? Does God want me to worship Him by those traditions? Now if you study into the question, you may be shocked. But you'll find that the early New Testament Church never celebrated Easter or any of those traditions. Is that surprising to you?
Almost 300 years after Christ--30 decades later!--that was when the Roman Emperor Constantine became really the greatest promoter of non-biblical Christianity, and you know it's still with us today. It's through the Edict of Milan and the Council of Nicaea. Those meetings are very important. Influential men, they united the Roman church and they expanded the empire. Do you know how they did that? They did it by adding popular festivals of worshipping the sun and those springtime traditions that they altered, and they changed, and they mixed it all together, supposedly to honor Jesus, "the true Sun."
But you know, those new converts, they didn't get rid of their traditions. They didn't get rid of those rituals. Instead, they gave them a Christian flavor. Pagan rituals, symbols, practices that were brought right into Christian observances, and it became the common practice. But you know, the New Testament Church, Jesus' disciples, never compromised. Biblical truth itself though was compromised hundreds of years later, after Christ, after the disciples and it was infiltrated with misconceptions.
So what was the result? You can read the history books. Centuries ago, the Holy Days that Jesus Himself taught and observed, they were set aside in favor of a man-made holidays. So, popular tradition pushed aside true biblical teaching.
Notice what it says in John chapter 4, verse 23, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth." (John 4:23, 24 NIV)
God rejects all these traditions and the customs that were used to worship false gods and altered to worship Him. He rejects those things, even if it's well intentioned and He expects true worship.
Now when we begin to discuss these things, we can only scratch the surface of this topic, but there is so much more you need to know. That's why we've produced a free booklet. It will help you to discover the truth. You can go online after the program to BeyondToday.tv to download this special booklet. You can read. You can order it. It's called Holidays or Holy Days: Does it Really Matter Which Days We Observe? Call for your free booklet. Toll-free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv . We offer this booklet free of charge as an educational service.
The days you keep, it does matter to God. So get this booklet and discover what those days are about and why they're so important to you.
You know if you want to worship God in spirit and truth, you probably realize that bunnies and eggs, they just don't fit with the resurrection story.
When we strip away those traditions, is it possible to still honor Christ in Easter? In other words, is the Easter Sunday tradition the biblical way to worship our resurrected Christ? No. Let's look at the real heart of the problem with Easter and let's see why it's an incorrect way to worship Jesus.
Now we've got to go back. You probably know that the religious leaders at the time of Jesus Christ, did they believe Him? Did they believe He was the Messiah? No they didn't. They fought against Him! They didn't believe He was the Messiah. Some said to Christ, they said, show us a sign that you're really the Messiah. You know what Jesus did? He gave them one sign that He was the Savior of all mankind. Now, do you know the sign that Jesus Himself gave?
He said, He wouldn't give them any old sign, or all kinds of signs. He said He would give them no sign except this:
You can find it in Matthew chapter 12, verse 40. Christ Himself said, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Jonah 1:17 in the grave)
In other words, in the grave. So here's the question: Did Jesus fulfill this sign? That was a promise! That was it! That was the proof!
So have you ever wondered about that? Have you ever wondered about a Friday crucifixion and a Sunday resurrection? Have you ever stepped back and done the math?
Many mistakenly believe that He was crucified on Good Friday.
Now if that were true, let's count the days and count the nights. Remember Christ said three days and three nights. We'll count those nights from Friday to Sunday and see if it fits. Does that scenario fulfill the promise of Christ?
Sounds like three; Friday, Saturday, Sunday. But is it really? Now if you check your Bible, it says that He was put in the tomb at sunset. So let's begin counting. We have Friday night; that's one night. Saturday day; that's one day. Saturday night; that's a second night. And then Sunday morning; that's a second day.
Now when we think about it, if a Friday crucifixion were true, what do we find? At most, Jesus would have been in the grave two nights and two days. You see there's no way to get three days and three nights into that scenario. It just doesn't work. There'd be about 36 hours, technically only about a day and a half. It just doesn't add up. And did you notice something interesting, it didn't even add up to just parts of three nights. Not even parts of it! So that argument falls flat. So we have to ask ourselves: What's the big deal? How critical was it that Christ fulfilled that sign?
It's absolutely of utmost importance. Jesus said, I would be killed. I'll be dead, and then later I'll come back to life. And not just any old way, and not just after any old amount of time, but an exact amount of time: Three days and three nights after I'm put in the grave. That was His promise. That was the sign. It would an indisputable proof that He was the Messiah, the very Son of God. (Matthew 12:40)
Jesus was crucified not on a Friday. That scenario doesn't fit. He was actually crucified on a Wednesday and was resurrected at the end of the Saturday Sabbath. You can verify it. But you know, it's going to take an open mind and an open Bible.
Because there's two important things that you need to understand. First, throughout the Bible when they considered a day, instead of counting midnight to midnight like you and I do, they counted from sunset to sunset. That's a very important point.
And secondly, the week that Jesus was crucified actually had two Sabbaths in it. First, the normal weekly Sabbath, the seventh day, from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset and then was an annual Holy Day, an annual Sabbath, that was observed on Wednesday sunset until Thursday sunset.
Now keep that in mind and let's see if the biblical scenario, what God recorded for us, adds up. You see the fact is, the Bible tells us that Jesus died near three o'clock on Wednesday (Mark 15:24, 37) and was buried just before sunset that day (Luke 23:54).
So, let's add it up.
Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset; you've got one day and one night.
Then we've got Thursday sunset to Friday sunset; two days, two nights.
Friday sunset to Saturday sunset…
What does it add up to?
Three days. Three nights.
You see, it does add up! It fits!
There can be no doubt: Jesus Christ was in the grave. Three days. Three nights. He was already risen, long before the women came to the tomb on the first day of the week. You can find that in your Bible. On the first day of the week the women came to the tomb.
But you know what, He was gone because He was already resurrected at the end of the Sabbath day (Luke 24:1-6).
He was resurrected on the Sabbath. So the way that figures out is Jesus Christ's very words were perfectly fulfilled as you'd expect. He was the Savior. He is the Savior. He is the Messiah. And He had to be resurrected at the end of the Saturday Sabbath to truly be our Savior.
If He were resurrected on Sunday morning, there'd be a contradiction. There'd be a flaw in that prediction, and He couldn't possibly be our Messiah. But when you check out the facts of your Bible, Jesus came back to life at the exact time that He claimed He would.
So, you see Easter is exposed by the Bible itself. There's no other conclusion that you can come to. Biblical evidence reveals that the Good Friday-Easter Sunday tradition is a charade.
You know, when you look at the New Testament Church, look at what the apostles taught after the death of Christ. Do you find an observance of Easter in the New Testament? Now you may be shocked by it! It may be surprising to you, but you will not find it in the New Testament.
You see, Christians have not always observed the resurrection of Jesus on Easter. Now the true, authentic Church of God--the Church that's found in your Bible, the New Testament Christian Church--never observed Easter. They observed the Passover, not Easter. Now, now wait. You might say, well haven't all Christians always observed Easter? No.
Millions of people commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, but you know they don't do it on Easter. It's not happening. Could it be possible that all these other Christian churches could be wrong? Yes.
Matthew 15:9, Jesus Himself said, "…in vain [do] they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
So if you were to stop observing Easter, do you realize, you wouldn't be alone? In fact today, tens of thousands of Christians follow Jesus' teaching and do not observe Easter, because the truth puts Easter in jeopardy. It's not just a game. Jesus said, "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
He tells you how to follow His lifestyle, to honor Him the way that He wants to be honored. That includes observing the days that Jesus Himself observed. Do you know those days? Do you know the biblical Holy Days that honor Jesus Christ? Those are the days that He kept?
You know, isn't it time to take a more meaningful approach to religion, more than the holidays? To dig a little bit deeper?
God showed us how to worship Him. He doesn't want us to worship Him through Easter or any other man-made holiday, but instead worship Him on His days; the Holy Days of God. You need to find out about them. Take time to read your Bible. Discover them for yourself!
Now there's so much more to discuss on this topic. Could it be possible that what you thought was the truth, really isn't what your Bible actually teaches? And after all, does it matter? Does it matter what days we worship?
Up next, we'll be talking another in-depth look and having a discussion with fellow Beyond Today host Darris McNeely.
And you know, if you're looking for biblical understanding, looking for biblical truth, we have a special offer for you. It's The Good News magazine. This magazine contains important articles that will help you understand the truth behind the Holy Days and how God truly wants you to worship Him. The Good News will give you insight into life's questions--your questions.
That's why you need to request your subscription to The Good News . It will help you with answers. You can click or call: 1-888-886-8632. Or read it online. You can request it as well. We'll send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine at BeyondToday.tv.
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Now we've been talking about Easter and exposing it to the truth of the Bible. Now, we're going to discuss this whole subject with fellow host, Darris McNeely.
You know Darris, you and I are Christians. We're Christian pastors.
And yet, we're men that don't celebrate Easter. But, it wasn't always that way.
No. Steve, there was a time when I did celebrate Easter, just like everyone else, raised doing so; colored the eggs, rolled them on the lawn, ate the chocolate bunnies--you were talking about earlier--and had the Easter baskets and all of that, but there came a time when that changed. And, I learned that that was not exactly what the Bible teaches. That was not the appropriate way to understand the resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as His death.
I know in my family one of the fun things, especially my mother would get into, dressing all us kids up.
You know we'd get the little hats on. And I've got some embarrassing photos, you know with the little hats and the little bowties, and she used to really enjoy doing that sort of thing. And it was a lot of fun that was involved in that.
There's always fun when it comes to holidays like that and traditions that are passed on from, within the family, and how people do that. The key--as you've already brought out--is whether or not, when it comes to the things of God, that is really in the Bible and what God tells us to do.
Yeah and that's the interesting thing because it seemed that as God opens your mind to what the Bible really has to say, you realize, boy there's a lot more to the story. Is this really getting to the real meat of what God wants me to do? And you know when you begin to think about those things, you know, how do you really find the truth? You know, how do you get to it? It's not just showing up once in a while and going to sunrise service, like we used to do, and have the scrambled eggs after services and the whole thing.
A "C" and "E" Christian.
Right. Christmas. Easter. Is that the only time, time we show up at Church? But when you dig into it, you know how do you do that? Where do you go? What do you have to do? How do you really get to what God really wants us to do?
Well you have to base it on the Scripture. You have to look and see what does God tell us to do in regard to these significant events, and in this case, and the event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is central to the story of salvation and how we gain eternal life. Member, there was a rich young ruler that came to Christ and asked, how do I gain eternal life? What must I do to live forever? And Christ showed him, you know, keep the commandments but it was a central question he had and everyone has and this story, of the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to the Christian faith. And getting it right is important. That's why the Easter traditions, the Easter myths, that have been overlaying to the true story from the Scriptures of salvation are so critical to be able to peel away and unfold to get back to the truth.
If you want to get to an understanding, and remember Steve, you've got to replace error with truth. What you've done today in this program is, in a sense, take away from what people understand.
We're trying to replace it, right?
With what's right.
We want to replace that with what the Scripture says. If you want to find out where, turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 5 for instance. And you look where the apostle Paul was speaking to the Christian Church in a very basic letter, and he said to them, at one point here, very, very clearly and very carefully. He said, "purge out the old leaven"--this is 1 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 7--"that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us."
Christ here is said to be the Passover sacrificed for our sins. This is what Paul is addressing here, which is a, again a major event of the Bible. But then he goes on to say in verse 8, "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
Now that's interesting, if you stop right there for a second. He's really giving a command. He's not saying keep Easter. He's says keep the feast.
He is teaching these Christians to keep a festival, a major festival in the spring, right at the same time. Generally as Easter is found, may vary from on the calendar, but it is the festival on which God gave the Church to remember the death of Christ and then to commemorate His resurrection. And this is what he's talking about here. It is actually a seven day festival on which a Christian focuses his life and his mind on the resurrected Christ and His life in us as changed Christians.
Probably the question that's in people's minds is does it really matter and if it does, what am I supposed to do about it?
It matters to God. We honor Christ, we honor God by doing what He tells us to do, not what we think is a better way or a more convenient way.
We've got to start there, don't you…
That's where you start. Not the traditions of men, but what God says is truth--worshipping him in sincerity and in truth. That's the big decision every one of us has to make, whether or not we will forsake the holidays of men to keep the Holy Days of God.
You know, we hope that you can begin your search for truth, and we want to help you on that journey. We have a special booklet for you.
Remember these free offers: Holidays or Holy Days: Does it Matter Which Days We Observe? It does. If you order this booklet, go online, this will help you to separate out all the counterfeit traditions and get down to the truth of God.
And here's how you can get it. You can read it online at BeyondToday.tv or you can download it, or request your own copy. We'll send it to you free. You can call! Toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632 and request your free booklet.
Of course, you can't forget about your free subscription to The Good News magazine. This unique magazine will help you recognize what's going on in the world in the light of your Bible. There's also all kinds of articles that are relevant to your everyday life, so be sure and order your free subscription to The Good News magazine. This unique magazine will help you recognize what's going on in our world in the light of the Bible. There are also all kinds of articles that are relevant to your everyday life so order your free subscription of The Good News magazine.
Now, when I was a young boy, it was so exciting to be at Eastertime and we'd get those Easter baskets and we couldn't wait to get--my favorite part was that chocolate bunny! Gotta have that chocolate bunny. And you know one of the most disappointing things as a kid, was opening up that chocolate bunny and it was hollow. You know the real thing was solid and I remember opening a chocolate bunny that was empty! It was hollow.
And you know as I became a man, and God started to work with me, I began to see, you know, Easter and its traditions, they're like that bunny. They are hollow. If you want the solid truth, you want to honor God solidly in His way? You want the real thing? Go to your Bible! Look at what it says.
Even though you've always believed something, you know that doesn't make it true, Jesus said the Word of God is truth! If you want to find the truth, go to your Bible! It's found by getting that book out. Getting to know what it says and getting to know your God! Honor Him the way that He wants to be honored, not in those traditions of man-made holidays. Don't let the trappings of Easter separate you from something so much more meaningful.
Instead, worship God on His days. I hope you'll personally look into the Holy Days of God, the biblical days of worship. Those are the very days that Jesus Himself observed and He taught to His Church.
So why not follow Him? Take the time to read your Bible and discover them for yourself. Take the challenge! Look into the history books and you'll find the Easter traditions exposed. Look into you Bible and you'll discover, discover the depth of what Jesus really taught.
Thanks for joining me today. I hope you'll tell your family and friends about our program. I'd like to invite you back again next week, same time, for another edition of Beyond Today . I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.