How did Easter get its name? | faith and religion


Basic Text: 1 Corinthians 15:3-23

Devotional text: John 11: 25-26

As believers in Christ, we are now in the 40 days before Easter known as Lent. They lead us to Holy Week and the Sunday of the resurrection of Jesus.

As usual, I like to look at the history of things. I wondered when Christians changed from calling it Resurrection Sunday or Resurrection Day and started calling the day celebrated as the resurrection of Jesus with the term “Easter”.

There is much speculation about this among scholars and theologians.

In the past, the idea has been raised that Easter stemmed from a springtime celebration for a pagan goddess. A number of gods and goddesses whose names began with an “E” were brought up for explanation. These beliefs have changed over time as new information has emerged.

There is no date that tells us when the first Easter took place, but we do know that it was not called Easter and that it did not always take place on a Sunday.

We also know that from apostolic times, the disciples of Christ honored Jesus by celebrating his resurrection. They called it resurrection day to honor their new life in Christ.

What is Easter about

The realization that Christ died for us, for the forgiveness of our sins, which brought us into a new covenant with God, stems from The Last Supper. We find the words of Jesus, spoken to his disciples at supper in the upper room, in Matthew 26:20-30, Mark 14:17-26, Luke 22:14-30 and John 13:21-30.

Of these four gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke show us the words of Jesus as he lifted the cup and said, “Drink from it, all of you. This is the blood of the covenant which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.

In Mark’s version we don’t read the line “for the forgiveness of sins”, and in Luke’s gospel the covenant is called “the new covenant in my blood”. As usual, the use of the three gospels brings everything together for us.

Finally, in the Gospel of John, we do not find these words at all. The gospel of John, also known as the spiritual gospel, focuses on the glorification of God and the commandment to love one another as Jesus loved them.

However, the first three lead us to Jesus dying for us, to the resurrection on the third day, and to our new life as believers because of the sacrifice Jesus made for the world.

As the apostle Paul summed it up to the inhabitants of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, “But Christ is truly risen from the dead, the firstfruits of those who slept (the first risen of those who are dead). For since death came by a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes by a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall live again.”

The story of Easter

Looking back to the beginnings of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, we find the first council of Christian leaders, called the Council of Nicaea, which was held in 325 AD. In the years before this meeting, the resurrection of Jesus could take place any day of the week, not necessarily a Sunday.

It was during this council that it was decreed that the day of resurrection would always be on a Sunday. Also, the designated Sunday would always be the first Sunday following the first full moon of spring. Since then, Easter can fall on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

Now let’s try to understand the many ways the word “Easter” may have been used. Before we start, we need to know that no one really knows.

Scholars tell us that it was in the eighth century that words akin to Easter began to be used. These words have a number of definitions, including the month of beginnings, or a derivation from the name of the German or English goddesses of fertility or the warming of the season.

Some say it originated in Anglo-Saxon terminology with the word “eastre”, translated as dawn, and is associated with the vernal equinox, the lengthening of days, and Jesus as “the light of the world “.

As I said, we don’t have a definitive answer as to how the name Easter came about for this celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, as far as history has shown us, early on the resurrection of Jesus became part of the Passover celebration of the Jews.

You can read about the first Passover in Exodus 12:1-14 and beyond. This explains why the blood of a lamb marked the sides and lintels of the doors of the Hebrew people to save them from the angel of death. It also corresponds to the biblical usage of calling Jesus the Lamb of God.

According to ancient records, it appears that the resurrection added new meaning to the Passover celebration for those who believed in Christ. This celebration became part of “Pesach,” the Hebrew word for “Passover.” It was also used in Greek as “Pascha” or “Paska”.

It is not known when “Pascha” became synonymous with the word “Easter”. However, over the centuries the two words have been used interchangeably, until we get today’s Easter.

For those who have an interest in knowing, after sifting through many articles and sources, here is what I have to offer you today. It is certainly possible that in the future, theological scholars may enlighten us further.

Today, many people around the world celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Christ. There is a new movement among believers to refer to the day again as Resurrection Day, in an effort to differentiate it from the commercialization of Easter.

As we continue, next week we will examine the meaning of Lent and the ways people choose to draw closer to God through the 40 days of fasting, surrender and prayer.


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