Easter is upon us, promising new life.
It comes at a time of a receding pandemic, relentless strife and cultural assaults on everything we hold dear — our God-blessed, imperfect country, our “unalienable rights” from our Creator, the meaning of male and female and even reality itself.
Jesus always told the truth, regardless of consequences. It’s what got him crucified. That’s something to remember when the authorities of our time demand that we deny what we know from our own eyes, and in our hearts and minds. We shouldn’t let them get away with this, but that’s another discussion.
For at least one week, those who believe in the power of the cross and the Resurrection can set aside the insanity and take heart in a Savior who loves us beyond our understanding. Easter is a time of joy, the golden crescendo to nature’s renewed burst of creative energy.
Modern-day skeptics, who think the claims of Christ are too good to be true, like to assert that the highest Christian holidays are merely cultural thefts from pagan religions. Thus, Christianity to them is just warmed-over superstition.
Christmas, for example, is said to have displaced the old Roman Feast of Saturnalia and Germanic Yule celebrations. Yes, it did, but for good purpose.
Since no one knows the exact day that Jesus was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, the church chose Dec. 25, a day roughly corresponding to the Roman observance of the winter solstice. The idea was to keep the celebrations going, but redirect them to the glory of God instead of the mythical god Saturn.
As it became a universal force, the church often co-opted previous religions’ customs, as long as they didn’t contradict the unnegotiable, redemptive Gospel message of Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection and promise of eternal life for all who believe in Him.
Easter is a different story from Christmas. It’s tied to the Jewish Passover, with Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb for the sins of the whole world. The earliest recorded Easter celebration was in the 2nd century.
As for the word Easter, some skeptics suggest it came from Eostre, or Eostrae, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of springtime and fertility. Even if they’re right, this wouldn’t change the most consequential event in history. But they’re probably wrong. The online Encyclopedia Britannica explains:
“There is now widespread consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in Old High German, the precursor of the modern German and English term. The Latin and Greek Pascha (“Passover”) provides the root for Pâques, the French word for Easter.”
The biblical promise of new life corresponds beautifully with the Northern Hemisphere’s awakening from winter into spring. Sunrise church services evoke the transition from darkness and death to God’s brilliant light.
It’s different south of the Equator, however, where 10% to 12% of the world’s population dwells. They just had their own autumnal equinox in late March, with their vernal equinox ahead in September.
But the weather is immaterial. As with Jews observing Passover and the High Holy Days around the world, Christians celebrate Easter in Buenos Aires, Capetown, Sydney and Auckland on the same day as their brothers and sisters in the faith in New York, Paris, Rome and Mexico City. Following the Western Gregorian Calendar, the Eastern Orthodox observe it later, this year on May 2. But it’s still all about Jesus as the Passover Lamb.
Easter proclaims that Jesus is Lord of all. And Who is He?
A stunning answer can be found in a tour de force entitled “That’s My King,” by the late Rev. Shadrach Meshach Lockridge, who pastored from 1953 to 1993 a large Black church in San Diego. He once did a six-and-a-half-minute description. You can find several edited versions of his powerful address online.
The whole thing is well worth a listen, but here’s a snippet:
“He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King!
“He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s Saviour. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. … That’s my King!”
And, Rev. Lockridge hit the importance of Easter on the nose:
“Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King!”
• Robert Knight is a contributor to The Washington Times. His website is roberthknight.com.
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