Written by Pamela K. Orgeron, M.A., Ed.S., BCCC, ACLC, Author
Amidst the Easter parades, Easter egg hunts, and other festivities surrounding the holiday, I hope you will take time to reflect on the real reason for celebrating Easter. I hope you can look beyond the Easter baskets, the Easter bunnies, and other secular traditions of the Easter season to reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Easter is one of the most significant and oldest celebrations of the Christian church established to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to dictionary.com, Easter is scheduled ” on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, as calculated according to tables based in Western churches on the Gregorian calendar and in Orthodox churches on the Julian calendar. For more detailed information on how the Easter date is scheduled each year, I recommend reading the article entitled Calculating the Easter Date.
Symbols of Easter
The Cross & The Empty Tomb
In Christian circles of which I am acquainted, the cross and the empty tomb stand out as the most significant symbols of Easter, symbolizing the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, respectively. Most of the focus seems to be on the cross, but may I remind each of us that without the empty tomb, there would be no resurrection.
Other Easter Symbols with Christian Roots
According to the American Bible Society, other symbols of Easter that are grounded in Christianity include Easter lilies, butterflies, eggs, and the lamb. Lilies bloom around Easter time. Looking like trumpets, they symbolize eternal life with God (See I Corinthians 15:52.). In some circles, white lilies have been known to symbolize the chastity and purity of the Virgin Mary.
In Christian tradition, butterflies also represent resurrection and eternal life. While in their cocoon, butterflies develop emerging into a new and beautiful creature.
Eggs are a common symbol of Easter in both secular and Christian circles. They “represent the new life that returns to nature during the spring. Christians also view it as a reminder of the tomb from which Jesus Christ arose (Luke 24:1-4). Early Christians used red colored eggs to symbolize the Resurrection.” (American Bible Society, Eggs section, ¶1) In early Christian heritage, according to World-Herald staff, “The Easter egg roll itself may have symbolized the rolling away of the boulder in front of Christ’s tomb.” (Easter egg section, ¶1)
Why is the lamb a significant symbol of Easter? In John 1:29, Jesus Christ himself is referred to by John as the “Lamb of God”. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ eliminate the necessity to sacrifice a lamb as was done during the Jewish Passover until the times of Christ.
Secular Symbols of Easter
In my background, the biggest secular symbols of Easter are the Easter parade, the Easter bunny, and the Easter basket/candy. Though these Easter traditions may be enjoyable and fun for children, they are not found in Scripture. Thus, their origins will not be discussed in this article.
In my opinion, just as with Christmas, Easter has become too secularized and commercialized. Even in churches, congregations focus on trying to draw new members through Easter egg hunts and other festivities, rather than trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring others to God and His church (John 6:44). The Scriptures are plain that Christians are not to be imitators of the world (Romans 12:2) but to be imitators of Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21). In Ephesians 5, we are told to follow after God. That whole chapter speaks of how Christians are to walk in love, which implies to me that others are won to the Lord through love, not through secular Easter practices such as having egg hunts and giving Easter baskets.
What is your focus on this Easter? Are your thoughts and actions centered on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Or are you putting too much time and energy focused on the worldly pleasures of the Easter season? The last thought that I would like to conclude with is that each of us needs to remember that the lost are drawn to Christ through love and that the ultimate love was God giving His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind, which includes you and me.