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Blog Category: Easter (7 posts)
Luke J. Wilson | 22nd March 2021 |
Much like any major Christian holiday, there are the usual arguments and accusations about how it’s all just pagan festivities with a “Christian mask”. Easter is no different, and usually gets hit the hardest over its so-called “pagan roots”, or in the month or so preceding it, Lent being some “invention of the Catholic Church”.
Table of Contents
The Lenten Fast
The Easter controversy and why we celebrate it when we do
Is the Name “Easter” really the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre?
Chocolate eggs and bunnies?
Further Reading and Sources
I like to try and observe Lent, as it is one of the most ancient customs in the Church, which led me to researching its origins, along with the Easter celebration, to see where they have their basis. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that much of the accusations against Easter and Lent as “pagan” are either fabricated or is just misinformation. So let’s examine the different aspects of Easter to see how we got from Passover to resurrection, to little bunnies and chocolate eggs!
The Lenten Fast
A forty day fast prior to Easter has been a long established practice within the Church dating back to possibly within the first century. This is well established from ancient letters we still have available, such as from Irenaeus in the second century:
For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more. In fact, others fast forty days … And this variety among observers [of the fasts] did not have its origin in our time, but long before in that of our predecessors.–Irenaeus (c.180)
Notice here that Irenaeus mentions that this was a practice passed onto them by their “predecessors”, a term often used in conjunction with the Apostles themselves, or those who immediately came after them, putting the origins of this Lenten fast much earlier than when Irenaeus wrote in 180, and also possibly having Apostolic origin.
The Easter controversy ...
Luke J. Wilson | 01st April 2018 |
Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to remember and praise, but not just because Jesus was raised to new life, but because in that moment it sealed the promise of our own hope in God.
Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can now be partakers in that new, eternal life!
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
"Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes, showing the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ. This should now be our battle cry as we go forward in Christian life; death has no hold over us who are sealed by the Holy Spirit through baptism, raised to new life in Christ.
I won't go into this topic too much now, as I've written on it plenty before here and here. I just wanted to focus our minds on the victory we have because of Jesus and what he did for us this day, centuries ago.
I'll close with this worship song which celebrates the resurrection, which I really like. Focus on the words of the song and praise God for Jesus!
Happy Easter, everyone.
Luke J. Wilson | 29th April 2017 |
Table of Contents
Jesus was raised bodily – and historically
The resurrection is what makes Christianity unique!
Evidence from Paul
The mystery of the resurrection
The nature of the resurrection
The resurrection is more than physical
What with Easter still ringing in our ears, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the topic of resurrection, but from a historical standpoint and why we can trust it as a real, world-changing event. So, what really is the resurrection? How will we be resurrected, and what does it mean for us that Jesus rose again? Let’s explore what this means for us as Christians, and see what the Scriptures say.
Jesus was raised bodily – and historically
Let’s look at the way Jesus was resurrected first, since he is the “firstfruits” of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-23).
The historical, bodily resurrection of Christ is central to our faith. Without it, we may as well pack up and go home, which Paul makes clear to the Corinthian church:
1 Corinthians 15:12-15
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
I saw a survey recently about this very topic, which suggested that a worrying amount of self-identifying Christians in Britain don’t believe that the resurrection of Jesus happened at all!
Fewer than one-in-three Christians in Britain believe “word-for-word” the Biblical story of Jesus rising from the dead … A survey for the BBC carried out to mark Palm Sunday found that 23 per cent of those calling themselves Christians “do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” at all. ...
Luke J. Wilson | 27th March 2016 |
Easter is upon us once again! Lent is over, Good Friday has passed and now the time for mourning and fasting is complete. It's a time to feast, a time to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Christ as we look forward to our own final resurrection!But what really is the resurrection? How will we be resurrected, and what does it mean for us that Jesus rose again? Let’s explore what this means for us as Christians, and see what the Scriptures say.
The resurrection is spiritual!
That heading may cause some reading this to question me, but do read on – this is actually what the New Testament teaches us (though not only this type of resurrection).
Many times in Scripture when speaking of baptism, it is used and described as a symbolic act of dying and being raised with Christ into a new creation, despite keeping our “old” bodies in the meantime. This, I believe, is why there was such an emphasis on the importance of baptism in the early Church, and why it’s something sacred we should also highly esteem and not take lightly.
As another blogger puts it, “baptism conveyed the gift of the Spirit and his illuminating and sanctifying roles … in being baptized, the new Christian experienced death (to self) and rebirth. Finally, baptism proclaimed the eschatological hope for restoration in the new creation.”
With that in mind, let's take a look at how baptism and resurrection relate to one another:
Colossians 2:12When you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 3:1So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
…[God,] even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
Romans 6:4Therefore we have ...
Luke J. Wilson | 25th March 2016 |
A week or so ago, I stayed the night at a local monastery with a friend. We got to see, and be partially involved in the day to day life of the Monks there, especially during mealtimes. We sat and ate in silence together while someone read to us, which was actually more enjoyable than I expected it to be. I can't remember what the book was called now, but it was to do with the Passion and what the crucifixion meant, and the point they were reading about was when the Roman soldier stabbed Jesus in the side.
This is where it got interesting and gave me something to think about that I'd never heard taught before. Normally most preachers and sermons talk about the blood and water flowing out as prefiguring baptism, but that's not what was pulled out of in this book we were listening to. No, the main point its author took was that this in fact symbolised the new birth we have now in Christ! Baptism by water was only secondary to this emphasis.
I'd never thought of it this way before but it struck a chord with me. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we have a new birth and are born again, just as we are born naturally into this world in blood and water, we can now be born again through Jesus who bled blood and water for us in his death.
But the similarities don't end there. Baptism obviously follows on from this, as does the other sacrament of the Eucharist. The sacraments themselves are all centred around blood and water which point back to the cross which that in itself points to the forgiveness of sin and new birth.
Through “the water of rebirth” we receive the “renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5) that gives new life, and, as Peter says, “as an appeal to God for a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:21). Baptism brings about forgiveness and displays our repentance over our former life.
Similarly, it is through the partaking of the Eucharist that we take on the eternal life that Jesus gives, to become a “partaker of the Lord’s immortality” as ...
Luke J. Wilson | 20th April 2014 |
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. — 1 Peter 1:3-5
Luke J. Wilson | 18th April 2014 |
I remember when I was growing up, this was a question I would often wonder about and ask. People would say "because Jesus died on the cross!", which was of little help to me as I would then think, why was Jesus dying a good thing?
But this is a question I'm sure many people will have asked themselves when they consider the name of their Bank Holiday, and probably a question they got an unsatisfactory answer to - if they got one at all!
Really though, this holiday time should be more well-known and recognised than Christmas. While the birth of Jesus is important, it isn't actually central to the Faith, nor is it really emphasised much in the New Testament. The more complete birth narratives appears in Matthew and Luke's Gospels only; Mark skips it and John only alludes to it in John 1:14 ("And the Word became flesh and lived among us..."); and Paul too, only mentions Jesus's birth very briefly in Galatians 4:4-5 and Romans 1:3.
Basically, the early Christians didn't care about this event in the same way we do today.
And history would tell us this as well, as celebrating birthdays were a pagan/Roman tradition, the Christians had nothing to do with it. It wasn't until around the 4th Century when Pope Julius declared December 25th as the date in order to corresponded with the Roman feast of Saturnalia.
But the real celebration, and the main thrust and focus in the New Testament is the death of Jesus and his subsequent resurrection. While there does seem to be some evidence to suggest that by the 2nd Century, early Christians were celebrating Easter, it sometimes feels like the Modern Church has placed more emphasis on Jesus's birth in terms of celebrations and events, than it does for his resurrection. Though that's probably partly due to Western culture and the so-called "War on Christmas" making some churches push Christmas harder.
I digress. Paul makes his view on the resurrection, and thus the whole point of Christianity, quite clear in 1 Cor 15:12...