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The Anomaly Of Easter

As one looks closely at the Resurrection story, one cannot help but feel that the established church has got things horribly wrong. Is this important, you may ask? I believe it is.

THE FACTS

Let’s start by taking a look at some facts.

1. The Passover is a specific date and, as such, can fall on any day of the week and not, as many in the modern church would have us believe, fall on the Sabbath Day (a fact that is really hard to see how that was actually worked out in the first place). Leviticus 23:5 clearly states on the 14th day of the 1st month commencing at twilight. Now this is according to the Jewish Calendar. Note that it says here at twilight on the 14th day. This actually means that, by our reckoning, this would be what we, who use the ‘western time system’, would call the evening of the 13th day because the Jewish day actually started around 6pm (dusk) of the day before.

2. Jesus says clearly, in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

3. Mark 15:42 has this to say: “Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is the day before the Sabbath” - here note that it is the day before the Sabbath (that is Friday, which under the Jewish system starts at 6pm Thursday) and NOT the day before the Passover. This, by our reckoning would actually mean that the Passover was actually about to finish. This is further supported by the fact that Jesus and His disciples had celebrated the Passover meal the night before (on the 14th Day by Jewish reckoning - see point 1). We can conclude that this was correct, because, nowhere is it written that Jesus celebrated the Passover a day early because of what was about to happen. There is no way a devout Jew would celebrate Passover early - late, yes (provisions are made in the law for this and it was to be 1 month later, to allow for those who were unclean or out of Israel, to celebrate), but not early.

From this, then, we can conclude that most of the events related to the crucifixion actually took place on the 14th day of the first month. This means that, clearly, with the next day being the day before the Sabbath (see point 1) and the Sabbath being Saturday, the crucifixion took place on Thursday.

Now let’s look further at this aspect of the timing.

4. Luke clearly states in 24:1 that “Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them1, came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared.”  1Note here that in some texts, the words and certain other women with them are actually omitted, but this has little relevance to the actual event, only to the number of witnesses (all women I might add, which is rather interesting considering the society of the day was male oriented) who were the first witnesses to the resurrection.

This verse states two very clear and important things.

The first of these is that it states, quite clearly, that it was the first day of the week. Clearly the Sabbath is over. This means the event had to take place after 6pm on the western time system.

The second part further clarifies this time, for it says very early in the morning. Clearly, we are talking about a time that is clearly around sunrise on Sunday morning.

This is supported in the other 3 gospels (see Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1 and John 20:1), all four agreeing with the event.

OBVIOUS ASSUMPTIONS

So with the aspect of Resurrection Day (which I will return to shortly), it is clearly an acceptable option (see later), for us to celebrate it on the first day of the week, Sunday.

What is now obvious from this closer study, is that Thursday and not Friday is the day of the crucifixion.

Let’s now refer back to point 2, at this time, for further clarification. Jesus Himself had said 3 days and 3 nights in the earth. That is, He would be “dead” for that period of time.

Does this fit what we have just said?

It most definitely does. He was buried on the Thursday afternoon, before the start of the next day, to allow all who handled His body to be ritually clean for the Sabbath. So we are talking days and nights of Thursday, Friday and Saturday - 3 days and 3 nights. At this point we must make a choice. Was Jesus a liar in what He said in Matthew 12:40 or is the modern church the liar? My option is for the modern church to be the liar, for Christ would have been unable to lie. This is a logical argument.

So we have now established that Thursday and not Friday is the relevant day of remembrance for the crucifixion.

But does it really matter?

The answer is clearly yes to this question. Even the youngest of children, with power to reason, cannot get 3 days and 3 nights out of Friday to Sunday. Three days, yes: three nights, no way. So the result of that would then, logically, be that the church lies.

So what else does it lie about?

Can we believe anything the church says if something so fundamental as this matter of time is something they lie about? Do we then draw the conclusion that the whole Christian story is just another religious myth?

To suggest that last question, would bring Christians and church people around the world out in arms to denounce such a claim as preposterous. I would be the first to agree, but isn’t that a logical conclusion to be drawn from that one misleading miscalculation?

It most certainly is.

With such a blatant lie, is it any wonder that people are prepared and able to say that Christianity has no basis and no relevance. Such fundamentals need to be corrected, and corrected fast, if Christians are to take back what the devil has stolen in the way of millions of souls.

All of this now sets up another anomaly.

When do we celebrate the Resurrection? Where does it’s celebration lie? A reasonably possible day to celebrate the resurrection is Sunday, for Luke’s account (and the others) makes this very clear that it occurred the day after the Sabbath or, in other words, on Sunday.

Clearly, from our earlier discussion, the celebration of this most important aspect of Christianity (for without the death and subsequent resurrection of Christ, Christianity has no power) on the Sunday means that it all must start on the Wednesday night for the Passover celebration that Jesus had with His disciples. The crucifixion takes place Thursday. Then we have two whole days of “reflection” before celebrating the victory of the resurrection.

But when should this actually happen?

Clearly all of these events must come after the day of the Passover (and not as the western church decrees, the nearest Sunday to the Passover). This is because the death of Christ is the “new Passover” for the new covenant. A further problem now enters. Because Passover is a fixed date and not a fixed day, Thursday will not be Passover every year. It can fall on any day of the week.

Thus we probably should be looking at the dates (if we are going to use fixed days) as being the first Thursday on or after the date of the Passover to start the 4 days of celebration. Or, in other words, the first Thursday on or after the 14th day of the 1st month of the Jewish calendar.

I stand to be corrected on this one, but it is my understanding that the Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches do celebrate Easter in this way (for it is rarely the same weekend as we in the western churches celebrate it).

THE BEST OPTION

There is, of course, another very clear option but one that would certainly not go down with  churches in the least ways (particularly western churches). This requires the breaking of approximately 1600-1700 years of church tradition.

This option is to make the Crucifixion and Resurrection a truly movable feast, clearly fixed to the date of the Passover. Here the option would be for Day of the Crucifixion, to be celebrated (as it occurred) on whatever day Passover happened to be, regardless of what day of the week falls on. This would mean calling it anything but Good Friday (a fact we have already shown to be clearly wrong anyway). The next two days following would be the “reflection days” and finally we would celebrate Resurrection Day, on the 3rd day after Passover.

This option would make the whole meaning of Christ being the Passover Lamb of the New Covenant much more relevant.

OTHER ISSUES

Now, of course, we enter the other issues surrounding the “Easter” celebration.

The first one of these is the fact that the actual “Easter” celebration is not mentioned in the New Testament at all. This raises the question, “Should we be actually celebrating the event at all?”

I believe the answer to that is clearly a yes.

As I have already mentioned, death and resurrection are the most significant events of the New Covenant that Christ brought with Him. For without those events, there is no Christianity. This is because the whole structure of Christianity is built on the atoning blood shed by the death of Christ and the conquering of death (that we might all live) by His resurrection. Clearly it is an important event.

So why wasn’t it mentioned by any of the New Testament writers?

I believe the answer lies in the fact that two things existed.

The first of these was that they clearly celebrated the event 365 days of the year (not just on one day each year) for if we look at any aspect of celebration that is mentioned, it centres around the breaking of bread whenever believers met. Is this not the celebration of the event? I am quite sure that if anyone had written down the words that Peter, John, Paul and others used at these times, they would most probably show this fact.

Additionally, as Jews, they still celebrated the Passover and, by its very celebration, would have been a total reminder of the New Passover Lamb, Jesus. This would have been imparted to the Gentile believers as they went and while some of the “heritage” aspects of the Passover would be lost on many of the Gentiles because they were not grounded in the Laws of Moses, I am quite sure that most, if not all, would have been aware of it’s background, because the early preachers would have quoted, on a regular basis, what we Christians now know as the Old Testament.

There is an additional matter that often arises. The legal argument that we must keep the Mosaic Law.

One must remember the Mosaic Law was for the Jews and that is clearly stated throughout the Old Testament  and into the New. Christ, in His time on the earth, clearly took His message to Jews (though some Gentiles also received benefits, a glimpse of what was to come). This was because the prophecies about the Christ were clearly to be fulfilled. This fulfilment, however, included the rejection of the Messiah by His own people.

We now come to events in Acts where Christ clearly led His church out and beyond the realms of Judaism. It starts with Phillip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-39. This was followed by Peter’s trip to Caesarea and to the household of Cornelius (Acts 10), and onwards until the final showdown on the matters of Jewish Law and the Gentile believers found in Acts 15:1-11 and 18-21. In this last passage, it is clearly stated that the only burden to be placed on the Gentiles were abstention from things that were clearly wrong.

We must assume that this Apostolic decision was made under the power of the Holy Spirit working within these men.

Yet another argument arises. “Easter” (as with Christmas - totally in the wrong time of the year for Israel’s climate) was politically overlain with pagan festivals that related to “new life”. That may be so, as history cannot, generally, be denied. But, when one considers that there are 365 days of the year in which pagan festivals of some type were practiced somewhere in the then known world, where do you genuinely find a day, that is not a pagan festival. Even if we come back to anything just remotely connected to new life, the problem still has a great chance of coinciding with a pagan festival of the time. 

The answer is you can’t, so whilst there is historical evidence of the overlay, I really do not see significant relevance to the actual argument that is connected with the actual celebration.

What this does lead us to is this.

OTHER ASPECTS

The important aspect is not so much when it is celebrated (in other words a legal celebration, putting us under the law) but that it is celebrated with the heart and not the head. God wants us to worship and serve Him with our whole hearts and not be so bound by law so as to lose track of His great love and mercy, so freely given to us in that He gave His only Son to this planet for the sole purpose of dying for our sins, so that we had a direct passage to God and a hope for the future.

Of course there is the “miscolouration” of Easter by the commercial aspect of Easter Bunnies (or Easter Bilbies in Australia) and chocolate “eggs” (as well as all things chocolate). Again these are about our attitudes and not about the realities.

Anything, and I mean anything, can be twisted to bring about the wrong message. In its loose form it is called statistical analysis, where any data can be made to say anything you like, just by the way you manipulate it.

The same applies here. We can see these things as the representation of new life or we can see them as hindrances - it all depends on how we want to see them.

I am reminded, here, of a story I recently read about a Sunday School class where the teacher gave each of her children an egg and sent them outside to put something in the egg that represented Easter. The children came back with a host of different things that they felt showed the meaning of Easter. One slightly backward child in the group had nothing in his egg and the teacher was embarrassed for him, making the excuse to the rest of the class, so as he wouldn’t be teased, that he would find something soon. The child’s response showed he knew clearly why it was empty for in a loud voice he said, “Oh no. It is about Easter, it is the empty tomb.” This child  knew quite clearly that Easter was about the risen Christ, but others had different ideas.

If these symbols do not stand comfortable with you, then do not practice them, but do not criticise others, because you will be judged by your own standards of judgement.

CONCLUSION.

Resurrection Day is important and it is the facts we must get right.

The Crucifixion Day should be on Passover (see earlier discussion on the movable option), not the nearest to it. This would then set the
as occurring 3 days after Passover.

The event, as with Christmas, has significance on every day of the year to true  Christians.

The rest is a legalistic approach, the very reason Christ had to come into this world in the first place (the Jews were tied down to all the legalistic aspects so much that they didn’t have time for God). Let’s be sure not to keep crucifying Him because we live in a legalistic church and not a faith church.