First off, go ahead and feed your kiddies all the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans their tummies can, um, stomach.
Color those eggs with the wee ones. Hide them in the tall grasses. The eggs, not the children.
I’m not here to pull the plug on all peeps, cadburies and patent leather shoes. If your kids know that all of it is just a side-show to the Main Attraction, have at it.
For me, I don’t much care for the word “Easter” anymore. I’ve dug through some pretty distasteful records of history that show how that celebration came to us and, frankly, it gives me pause. Or a heartache.
I stopped saying “Happy Easter!” years ago. And now I must tell you why. Excuse me while I pull on my history professor’s tweed jacket, complete with those trendy elbow patches. And now while I make my voice sound more professorial.
Our story begins not long after the dawn of human history. Nimrod, evil grandson of Noah, built a temple-tower called Babel in the plains of Shinar, the birthplace of Babylon. Ancient texts tell us he married his female counterpart, a vile woman named Semerimus. Together, they bore a son, Tammuz, whom they claimed to be the divine Child of God.
Semerimus instituted the first in a long line of “mother-child” religions where she was worshipped as the “Queen of Heaven” and son as the “Divine One.” You see, Satan was already setting the stage to obscure the arrival of the True Divine King, Messiah. In Phoenicia, it was Ashteroth and Tammuz. In Egypt, Isis and Horus. In Greece, Aphrodite and Eros. In Rome, Venus and Cupid.
Fact soon gave way to fantasy and, as the story goes, Tammuz went hunting one day and was horrifically killed by a bear. Forty days later, he miraculously rose from the dead! To commemorate this event, temple virgins would fast and weep 40 days (see Ezekiel 8:14) which led to a great feast called ‘Ishtar’ where colored eggs were exchanged as a symbol of fertility.
A risen-from-the-dead deity.
This little history lesson is not intended to be a rant against Christians who do the dog and pony show of Easter, but a reminder that it was prodigals who thought the whole idea up, and God came to save prodigals. Prodigals mythologized a faux immaculate conception, a would-be heavenly son and fabled a resurrection, but we have all the factual nothing-made-up reality in Christ, hallelujah!
Satan wanted one-upmanship. He thought he’d do an endaround on the Godhead (remember the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world) and get the world to fall at the feet of an antithesis Christ – one who wouldn’t crush his head! (Gen 3:14,15)
Ah, but that’s not what old slewfoot got. What he got was humiliated, trounced, crushed and defeated!
Christ has utterly wiped out the damning evidence of broken laws and commandments which always hung over our heads, and has completely annulled it by nailing it over his own head on the cross. And then having drawn the sting of all the powers ranged against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act!
- Paul, Colossians 2, JBP
The evil one’s lair was raided by the Stronger Man, Jesus, and the grave’s captives, long held despairingly and hopelessly in chains and leg irons, became a long procession of gloriously redeemed souls, the most awe-inspiring parade you ever saw! Far more beautiful, even, than a field of colored eggs or a church filled with frilly dresses!
Thanks be to God who leads us, wherever we are, on his own triumphant way and makes our knowledge of him spread throughout the world like a lovely perfume! We Christians have the unmistakeable “scent” of Christ, discernible alike to those who are being saved and to those who are heading for death. To the latter it seems like the very smell of doom, to the former it has the fresh fragrance of life itself.
- Paul, 2 Corinthians 2, JBP
Easter came to us via prodigal lore, all wrapped and dyed to keep our focus on things that lead to death, but Jesus came to set the record straight. Which version will your celebration reflect?
Happy Resurrection Day! (The real one.)