Rabbits, eggs, and the Lord’s day

Rabbits and eggs are in great abundance this time of year.  And anyone who knows anything about the history of Easter knows why.  They are symbols of fertility.  The spring equinox has always been celebrated as the time that the earth is in full recovery from winter.  The earth has come back from the dead, as it were.  The pagans, who saw the earth as an entity to be worshiped, turned the equinox into an opportunity for revelry — and, typically, debauchery.  (Children, if you don’t know what “fertility” and “debauchery” mean, ask your parents.)  The Catholic church incorporated local pagan worship traditions as it spread throughout Europe many centuries ago.  Thus, the celebration of the rebirth of the earth became the celebration of the risen Lord.  (The Greek word in Acts 12:4 rendered “Easter” by the King James Version translators is the same word rendered “Passover” every other time it occurs.)

Personally, I like rabbits.  And I absolutely love eggs.  If recent history is an indicator, I killed three of them this morning for breakfast.  (Eggs, that is — not rabbits.)  If you want to scatter eggs in your yard or eat bunny-shaped chocolate candy this afternoon, I have absolutely no issue with that.  Such activities have nothing to do with serving Jesus Christ, and I fail to believe anyone thinks otherwise.  I am not writing this to put the kibosh on your Easter plans.

I am writing this to illustrate how we can easily substitute what we want to do for what God has told us to do — and then congratulate ourselves for our spirituality afterward.  We give special attention to “Easter Sunday,” and we think that makes us good Christians.  But we ignore Him and what He has done for us most other Sundays, and we think that does not reflect on our standing before God.  Hmmm.

Spending quality time meditating on the resurrected Lord on Easter Sunday is a wonderful thing to do — but more because of the “Sunday” part than the “Easter” part.  The New Testament does not describe any annual commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection — with or without rabbits and eggs.  It does, however, describe a weekly one.  The people of God gathered on the first day of the week to “break bread” at the Lord’s table (Acts 20:7) — although they did not always do so with the right attitude of heart (1 Corinthians 11:20).  It soon came to be known as “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10) — likely because it was “the first day of the week” (John 20:1) when Jesus rose from the dead. 

We are blessed to perpetuate this tradition, not annually, but weekly.  When we honor Jesus on His day, specifically remembering His death on the cross for our sins, we celebrate the fact that we bear those sins no longer — that the risen Lord means we ourselves have risen from our life of sin (Romans 6:3-4), and that one day we will rise from the grave as He did (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Celebrate today, certainly.  Just do not forget to celebrate again next week. 

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