A Few Thoughts on Easter

There are some things I like about the modern Easter celebrations. Ham, boiled eggs, and the chocolate peanut butter eggs you can get for half-price the next day certainly make the list. And seeing the young ones dressed up in their spring finery is always a delight. I could add a few more things to the list, but while I don’t want to seem like a curmudgeon, there are also some things about Easter I don’t like.

First and foremost, if we are committed to doing the will of the Father (Matt 7:21–23), abiding in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9), doing all in the name of the Lord (Col 3:17), etc., how can we participate in the religious aspects of a “holy day” never found in Scripture? From the beginning of Christ’s church in Acts 2 to the New Testament’s conclusion in Rev 22, we never read about Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter. We do read about the death of Christ being remembered when Christians gathered on the first day of each week for worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 11:20–26; 16:1–2), but these annual holy days celebrated today are derived from human reasoning and are simply religious traditions passed down from generation to generation.

To be opposed to a practice because it lacks any biblical authorization will strike some as legalistic Pharisaism and no more than the complaints of one who majors in minors, but as much as I would like to go along with my friends in celebrating these special days, I am held back by the following events and teachings of Scriptures.

· When Cain failed to offer the sacrifice mandated by God, his offering was rejected (Gen 4:2–5; Heb 11:4).

· Nadab and Abihu were killed by fire from the Lord when they offered that which He had not commanded (Lev 10:1–3).

· Jesus cautioned against “teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:6–9 NKJV).

· We are repeatedly warned against adding to or taking away from God’s word (Deut 4:1–2; 12:32; Gal 1:8–9; 2 John 1:9; Rev 22:18–19).

We could look at some other warnings, but these should be enough. I don’t oppose man-made religious holy days because I don’t like them or the people observing them, but I oppose them precisely because they are man-made and not found in the all-sufficient Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16–17).

In the beginning of the article I indicated I had multiple issues with Easter. So, what are the others? The lack of any New Testament mention is the most important, but I’m also concerned that some put so much emphasis on this one day that they fail to see the importance of year-round service to God. Some who identify themselves as Christians will “go to church” on Easter, but the Lord’s kingdom and righteousness should be first (Matt 6:33) throughout the year. And Heb 10:24–25 with its admonition not to forsake the assembling together was not telling us it’s okay to be sporadic in our attendance as long as we make sure we don’t miss Easter Sunday.

And I’ll close with one I cannot be sure of, but have concerns about. Even with some who don’t make the first two mistakes, I fear there are times when Easter Sunday becomes more about the new clothes than the crucified Lord whom we remember every Sunday. I can’t read or know the hearts of people, so I may be wrong on this one, but have your children ever come in their new Easter outfits without their lessons prepared? Ever been so busy curling hair or shining shoes that you lost focus on the fact that it was the Lord’s Day? As I said in the beginning, I like to see the little ones in their new outfits, but let’s make certain we don’t confuse Bible class and worship with a fashion show. If you see Easter as only a holiday for food and finery (as I do) and not an unauthorized holy day, make certain this day of candy and clothes does not negatively impact the divine purpose for our gathering.

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” (2 John 1:9).

(Article originally published on the Jones Road church of Christ website 11/16/17. Minor visual edits by Marshall McDaniel.)