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Good Friday and Easter Sunday: Biblical Facts verses Pagan Fiction

by Missionary Bill

Anyone who studies the Bible in earnest understands that many of the days which appear on the religious calendar each year have been created by various faiths in an attempt to observe or pay homage to particular events important to Christianity. In most cases religious holidays or holy days are best guesses for when the event being celebrated actually occurred and it's not uncommon to find one religion in disagreement with another about the celebration, interpretation, importance and correct date of these events.

Good Friday is the observance of the day that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross. John 19:42 (KJV) states: "There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand." That verse tells us that our Lord's crucifixion took place on a Friday. The best guess for the date and year this occurred is April 3, 33 A.D. Some religions mark this day by holding special services or abstaining from the eating of meats, but neither of those practices are commanded in the Bible.

God warns us against placing too much emphasis on the celebration of specific days because He knows that it is in man's sinful nature to misrepresent or misinterpret the Biblical event being observed. These are the kind of things that idol worshipers did as pointed out in Galatians 4:7-10 (KJV): "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years."

Although there is certainly nothing wrong with holding services on Good Friday, it's important to remember that the point of any observance is to recall the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for sinners. The Bible tells us that the death of Jesus was a gift from God in John 3:16 (KJV): "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

We cannot accept this gift, buy it or embellish it by abstaining from meats or giving up anything for the season of Lent (as taught by some religions). The Bible tells us in 1 timothy 4:1-3 (KJV): "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."

Easter Sunday is a holiday that most Bible-believing Christians refer to as Resurrection Day. That's because it is the day that Jesus Christ rose from the grave. This event was foretold and occurred three days after his death on the cross at Calvary. When some of his disciples came looking for his body they were reminded of this fact by heavenly messengers in Luke 24:1-7 (KJV): "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again."

There is no Biblical command to celebrate Resurrection Day because Bible-believing Christians honor, celebrate and preach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ each time they meet for worship services. Some churches may use the occasion for special baptism services or to observe The Lord's Supper. It's is generally accepted that the early church did not specifically celebrate Resurrection Day, although that perception may have come from the fact that many of the early church members were Jews who celebrated Passover, which often occurs close to the date of Resurrection Day.

Like Christmas, Easter has been highly secularized. As various factions and religions moved away from sound Bible teaching and sought to marry paganism with Christianity to attract more followers, the Easter celebration began and became a movable feast that had little to do with the Resurrection of Christ. Easter is based on the celebration of the pagan rites of Spring, the worship of goddesses named Ostara and Eastre, and the Christian holiday. Add to this the appearance of the Easter Bunny and you have quite a mess.

The idea of the Easter Bunny came from pagan fertility rites associated with Eastre that were celebrated in Spring and originated in Western Europe hundreds of years ago. The rabbit is a fertility symbol and the earthly symbol of the goddess Eastre. It is believed that the coloring of eggs came from pagan feasts celebrating rites of spring. Eggs were an important staple of diets and by using the colors of flowers on them it was thought that would help guarantee a prosperous growing season. Because some religions encourage fasting and forbid the eating of eggs leading up to Easter, it's believed that some Europeans initiated the practice of eating colored eggs on Easter Sunday.

Candy entered into the celebration of Easter thanks to an old tradition of eating special foods related to the pagan festivals of Spring. As the idea of feasting or eating a special meal or celebratory foods on Easter was adopted from these pagan festivals, people sought to 'Christianize' those meals with things like cross buns and baked pretzels. As easter eggs became popular some people began to make chocolate confections in the shape of eggs and wrap those creations with brightly colored papers. Other candies like Jelly Eggs joined the chocolate eggs much later and became popular in the USA during the 1930s.

While Spring is a time of rebirth, it is important for Christians to keep their attention focused on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ during that season and focus on the rebirth spoken of in John 3:3 (KJV): " Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

By moving away from the pagan traditions that have confused people and been mixed with the teachings about Resurrection Day, we encourage sinners to come to Jesus for Salvation and be born again. Anyone unsure of Heaven can be sure by praying to God, admitting they are sinners, believing in and accepting the Gift of Salvation in Jesus Christ, and asking God to save them. That is the true message of Good Friday and Easter.

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