Family Traditions and The Easter Bunny
During this season it is usually the case that the importance of the Easter event gets diminished with fever of family traditions and the Easter bunny. But what is the real meaning of this event? I am sure there are many who cannot decipher between the Easter Bunny and the real meaning of Easter. Now if you ask yourself what the meaning of Easter means you might find yourself grappling with the very word itself, Easter.
There is evidence that Christians originally celebrated the resurrection of Christ every Sunday, with observances such as Scripture readings, psalms, the Eucharist, and a prohibition against kneeling in prayer. At some point in the first two centuries, however, it became customary to celebrate the resurrection specially on one day each year. Many of the religious observances of this celebration were taken from the Jewish Passover.Over the centuries, these religious observances have been supplemented by popular customs, many were incorporated from springtime fertility celebrations of European and Middle Eastern pagan religion. Rabbits and eggs, for example, are widely-used pagan symbols for fertility. Christians view the Easter eggs as symbols of joy and celebration and of new life and resurrection. A common custom is to hide brightly colored eggs for children to find.
Somewhere though one may be wondering what it really is that is so important about Easter that is so foundational to the Christian religion. Quite remarkably the event is unlike any other event in history or in any other religion. It can be suggested that it is an event that bears the signature of God himself. In order to understand why people put faith in such an event like the resurrection we must first understand the nature of faith itself. Faith is a conditional part of this rite. Faith is what drives us to trust in things. Faith is an everyday experience in little things like turning on the TV or the light switch. This provides us with an example of how we trust in small things of technology. But what about putting faith in a supernatural being that we call God. Should we believe in things that are unseen? The sixteenth century philosopher Immanuel Kant did not think so. For him it did not seem possible that we could believe in such phenomena. Being made in such a way that our bodies are limited to the five senses we cannot trust anything that cannot be proved in such a way without showing causes and effects. For him proceeding with our senses was the only way to verify the world in which we live. Kant died in 1804 just before the onset of many new breakthroughs in chemistry where things once beyond our comprehension could now be verified scientifically. In greater detail within the recent past science has revealed the unseen world of atoms. Its too bad that Kant didn’t live a little longer for he might have rethought his ideas on believing in the supernatural. But believing in the unseen may still have its problems. How does one come to faith in God? If one first believes that god exists then we have a good beginning before preceding to the next hurtle. What is it about God that one thinks about when one considers God? Well if we believe in God we must also believe he is unlimited in His power and can do anything. I mean anything logically possible. God cannot make a rock bigger than he can pick up. That’s logically impossible. It would be wrongheaded to think that God would be able to make an object that was beyond his omnipotence. You see that would mean that he in fact was limited by the size of the rock and therefore He would not really be omnipotent and so not God! If we think of God as God then there really can be no duelism in which something outside of God stands in tension to his omnipotence. We rather conceive of God as Almighty in every perspective not having to deal with something alongside of his being as being equal to him or eternal in the same way as He is. But is it logically possible for God to raise a man from the dead? Why not? He is Almighty God isn’t He? Theologians define the specifics when they consider the attributes of God. Attributes like omnipotence, having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; or omniscience, knowing all truths including past, present and future contingencies. In short when one conceives of God he would believe God as unlimited in his knowledge and power, a supreme being in whom we can trust to carry out miraculous events. Given this if one believes in God one therefore can easily believe that He would be able to bring about the resurrection of Christ. And this is really what Easter is all about. It is God changing history and doing something unique and new.. Raising a man from the dead after laying in a tomb for 36 hours. Why is it that this event is so believed by so many? It speaks to our mortality and how the promise of eternal life is ours as a gift. In the gospel of John 3:16 we read, For God so loved the world that He gave us his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. The resurrection guarantees that this will in fact happen. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me shall never die. This story has been passed down to us from first hand witnesses of all that happened. These eyewitness accounts can be read simply by reading the gospels. In the New Testament one can read the account of the scribes that had sent a delegation to question Yochanon the Immerser (John the Baptist), asking him two questions:
"Are you Elijah?" (John 1:21) - This referred to Malachi's prophecy (Mal. 4:5) that Elijah would come as a messenger before the appearance of the Messiah. To this day Jews around the world still set out a cup of wine for Elijah at Passover - in anticipation of the his arrival as the forerunner of the Messiah.
"Are you the Prophet?" (John 1:21). This referred to Moses' prophecy that God would send "a Prophet like me" (Deut. 18:15-19).
We further read that when the apostle Philip encountered Nathaniel, he said, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John 1:45). After Jesus fed the five thousand, the people began to ask if this was "the Prophet who is to come into the world" (John 6:14). Peter identified Yeshua (Jesus) as the Prophet (Acts 3:22-23), and in his apologetic before the Sanhedrin, Stephen the martyr declared that Yeshua was the promised Messiah: "This is he that Moses of who said to the children of Israel, 'The lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.' " (Acts 7:37-38).
Now many people do not know that those New Testament documents from history that we have are considered just that ,historical documents. Historians ascribe veracity to these documents as true witness accounts of people who wrote about this spectacular event. One only has to read the New Testament and see the many first hand accounts of the risen Christ both in personal and corporate sightings. In fact it is recorded in First Corinthians 15:1-8 where we are given a listing of different people who saw the Lord alive after His death, including over 500 people on one occasion. There are also extra biblical sources that report of this unusual person call Jesus and of his followers. There are historic Roman figures like Pontus Pilate. In the gospel of Mark, Pilate is depicting Jesus as innocent of plotting against Rome, and is extremely reluctant to execute Jesus, blaming the Jewish priestly hierarchy for his death. There are various Roman documents that speak about him. A first century historian named Josephus recounts several times in his writings of this historical figure called Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel accounts of Jesus and his message will be played out once again this Easter in all Christian churches throughout the world commemorating this great event of God breaking into history and revealing His love for mankind. How we conceive of this event may change what we really believe. If you can believe that God is able to raise Jesus from the dead then you are halfway there. This Easter I hope you will consider the great mystery of Immanuel (God becoming a human being) and how He gave His life for our sins. I pray that you might place your faith in Him and hope in His resurrection. If you do I believe you will be inspired to move from mere traditions of eggs and bunnies to the Divine Signature of God Himself.