Hard Questions for Easter

Wallace G. Smith
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It's the Easter season, and the pastel colors are coming out! Beautiful dresses for little girls hang in the department stores, kits for coloring eggs appear on the shelves, and that elusive species of hare—the chocolate bunny—comes once again into season.

Many churches will put on shows and pageantry, attempting to depict their understanding of the final week of Jesus Christ's life here on earth, leading to His triumphant resurrection. But some will ask themselves an important question this week: Does Jesus Christ really want everyone doing all of this?

Some will ask themselves: What do all these colored eggs and bunnies have to do with Jesus' resurrection? They might look into where these seemingly omnipresent symbols of Easter came from, only to discover that they come from ancient pagan fertility rituals. If they are familiar with their Bibles, they might recall that God says He does not want pagan practices to be used in worship of Him (Deuteronomy 12:30–32), and they might recall Jesus' condemnation of the practice of ignoring God's commands in order to keep one's traditions (Mark 7:6–13). They then might ask themselves: How does Jesus feel about celebrating His resurrection in this way?

Some will attend church services on Sunday and hear a discussion of Jesus' crucifixion on "Good Friday" and His resurrection on "Easter Sunday," but, after thinking about it for a while, they might come to another question. They might ask: If Jesus told the Jews of His day that He would be "three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40) just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17), how in the world does that fit into the commonly accepted Good Friday/Easter Sunday formula?

Looking into it, they might come across all sorts of explanations attempting to turn a day-and-a-half into three days and three nights—such as counting only parts of days, or supposed ancient idioms, or even that Christ was in error and that the time was cut in half. For those who were not truly serious about their research, these explanations may suffice. But for others, those explanations will ring hollow—especially the closer they are examined. For them, another question may come to mind: If Jesus didn't die on Friday and rise on Sunday morning, then why do so many who consider themselves Christians celebrate it that way?

Lastly, some might ask whether or not Jesus gave His Church any annual celebrations or observances. They might then look into the book of Acts and discover the church that Jesus founded keeping the Holy Days of the Bible, such as the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6) and Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks (Acts 20:16). They would see this, too, confirmed in the letters of the Apostle Paul—the man often credited with doing away with those same Holy Days. They would see him commanding a Gentile church to "keep the feast" (1 Corinthians 5:8) during the days of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They might even look into the prophesied future, and find that all nations—not just the Jews—would be commanded to keep the Feast of Tabernacles after Christ has returned to rule the earth (Zechariah 14:16–19). They might then rightly ask: Why don't the "Christians" I know keep these days?

For those willing to ask hard questions this "Easter season," God stands ready to answer. But being willing to ask those questions—that's the hard part. Are you willing?

If you would like information about the holy days Christ actually has given His church to observe, please order our free educational booklet, The Holy Days: God's Master Plan.

You may also wish to read our online article, "The Resurrection Was Not on Easter Sunday!"

  Originally Published: 05th April 2007