What does the Bible say about Easter?
Chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, colored eggs, new outfits, Easter cards, and a special brunch: is this what Easter is all about? What are the origins and meaning of Easter? What do the Easter bunny and eggs have to do with Jesus’ resurrection? How do we know that Jesus rose from the dead? Why is it important? Let’s explore these questions and more.
Christian quotes about Easter
“Christ the Lord is risen today, Sons of men and angels say. Raise your joys and triumphs high; Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.” Charles Wesley
“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.” Martin Luther
“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” Clarence W. Hall
“God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday.”
“Easter spells out beauty, the rare beauty of new life.”
“It is Easter. This is a season when we reflect on the suffering, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
“The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth.” Henry M. Morris
What are the origins of Easter?
Very soon after Jesus ascended back to heaven, Christians celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the dead by meeting for worship and communion on Sunday, the day Jesus came back to life (Acts 20:7). They often held baptisms on Sunday. By at least the 2nd century, but probably earlier, Christians annually celebrated the resurrection during the Passover week (when Jesus died), which began on the evening of Nisan 14 in the Jewish calendar.
In AD 325, Emperor Constantine of Rome decided that the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection should not be at the same time as the Passover because that was a Jewish festival, and Christians “should have nothing in common with the murderers of our Lord.” Of course, he overlooked two facts: 1) Jesus was a Jew, and 2) it was actually the Roman governor Pilate that sentenced Jesus to death.
At any rate, the Council of Nicaea set Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox (first day of Spring). This means that the day of Easter varies from year to year, but it’s always between March 22 and April 25.
The Eastern Orthodox Church follows the same rule for Easter, but they have a slightly different calendar, so on some years, the Eastern church celebrates Easter on a different day. What about Passover? Passover also falls between late March to mid-April, but it follows the Jewish calendar. Sometimes it coincides with Easter – like in 2022 – and sometimes, it doesn’t.
1. Acts 20:7 (NIV) “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.”
2. 1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
3. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
What is the meaning of Easter?
To answer this question, we need to unpack two questions: 1) What is the meaning of the word Easter, and 2) What is the meaning of the Easter celebration?
The English word Easter has unclear origins. The 7th-century British monk Bede said the month when Easter was celebrated in the Old English calendar was named after the goddess Eostre, and that’s where the word Easter came from, although he stipulated that the Christian festival was unrelated to the goddess’ worship. For instance, in our own Roman calendar, March is named after Mars, the god of war, but celebrating Easter in March has nothing to do with Mars.
Other scholars believe the English word Easter comes from the Old High German word eastarum, which means “dawn.”
Before Easter was called Easter in the English language, it was called Pascha (from the Greek and Latin for Passover), going back at least to the 2nd century and likely earlier. Many churches worldwide still use a variation of this word to refer to “Resurrection Day” because Jesus was the Passover Lamb.
4. Romans 4:25 (ESV) “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”
5. Romans 6:4 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
What is the meaning of celebrating Easter?
Easter is the most joyous day of the Christian year because it celebrates that Jesus defeated death, once and for all. It celebrates that Jesus brought salvation to the world – to all who believe in His name – through His death and resurrection.
John the Baptist prophetically introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) – meaning Jesus was the Passover Lamb. Exodus 12 tells how God instituted the Passover sacrifice of a lamb. Its blood was placed on the top and sides of the doorpost to each home, and the angel of death passed over each house with the blood of the lamb. Jesus died at Passover, the final Passover sacrifice, and He rose again on the third day – that is the meaning of Easter.
6. 1 Corinthians 15:17 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
7. John 1:29 (KJV) “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
8. John 11:25 (KJV) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
9. John 10:18 (ESV) “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
10. Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
11. Romans 5:6 “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
What is Maundy Thursday?
Many churches commemorate “Holy Week” in the days leading up the Easter Sunday. Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday – remembers Jesus’ last Passover supper He celebrated with His disciples on the night before He died. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means commandment. In the upper room, when Jesus sat with His disciples around the table, He said, “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34)
On the night before He died, Jesus broke the bread and passed it around the table, saying, “This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” He then passed around the cup, saying, “This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:14-21) The bread and the cup represented Jesus’ death to purchase life for all mankind, beginning the new covenant.
Churches that celebrate Maundy Thursday have a communion service, with the bread and cup representing Jesus’ body and blood, given for all. Some churches also have a foot-washing ceremony. Before celebrating Passover with His disciples, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. This was usually the task of a servant, and Jesus was teaching His followers that leaders must be servants.
12. Luke 22:19-20 “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
13. Luke 22:20 (NKJV) “Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
14. John 13:34 (ESV) “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
15. 1 John 4:11 (KJV) “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
16. Matthew 26:28 “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
What is Good Friday?
This is a day of remembering Jesus’ death. Some Christians will fast on this day, remembering Jesus’ great sacrifice. Some churches have a service held from noon to 3 PM, the hours Jesus hung on the cross. In the Good Friday service, Isaiah 53 about the suffering servant is often read, along with passages about Jesus’ death. Holy Communion is usually taken in remembrance of Jesus’ death. This service is solemn and sober, even mournful, yet at the same time celebrates the good news the cross brings.
17. 1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) “and He Himself brought our sins in His body up on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness; by His wounds you were healed.”
18. Isaiah 53:4 “Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted.”
19. Romans 5:8 “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
20. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
21. Mark 10:34 “who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
22. 1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”
What is Holy Saturday?
Holy Saturday or Black Saturday remembers the time Jesus lay in the tomb after His death. Most churches do not have a service on this day. If they do, it is the Easter Vigil that begins at sunset on Saturday. In the Easter Vigil, the Paschal (Passover) Candle is lit to celebrate the light of Christ. Readings from the Old and New Testaments about salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection are interspersed with prayers, psalms, and music. Some churches have baptisms on this night, followed by a communion service.
23. Matthew 27:59-60 (NASB) “And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.”
24. Luke 23:53-54 “Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.”
What is Easter Sunday?
Easter Sunday or Resurrection Day is the highest point of the Christian year and is a day of boundless joy remembering Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. It celebrates the new life we have in Christ, which is why many people wear new outfits to church on Easter Sunday. The church sanctuaries are often decorated with masses of flowers, church bells ring, and choirs sing cantatas and other special Easter music. Some churches perform dramas of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the plan of salvation is presented in many churches with an invitation to receive Christ as Savior.
Many churches have a “sunrise service” early on Eastern morning – often outdoors at a lake or river, sometimes in conjunction with other churches. This remembers the women who came at dawn to Jesus’ tomb and found the stone rolled away and an empty grave!
25. Matthew 28:1 “Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb.”
26. John 20:1 “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.”
27. Luke 24:1 “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared.”
What is the origin of the Easter bunny and Easter eggs?
Many cultures worldwide associate eggs with new life; for instance, in China, eggs dyed red are part of celebrating a new baby’s birth. The tradition of dyeing eggs at Easter time goes back to the Middle Eastern churches in the first three centuries after Jesus died and rose again. These early Christians would dye eggs red to remember Christ’s blood shed at His crucifixion, and, of course, the egg itself represented life in Christ.
The custom spread to Greece, Russia, and other parts of Europe and Asia. Eventually, other colors were used to decorate eggs, and elaborate decorations became a tradition in some areas. Because many people gave up sweets in the 40-day Lenten fast before Easter, candy eggs and other sweet treats became an important part of Easter Sunday celebrations, when people could eat sweets again. Jacob Grimm (the fairy-tale writer) incorrectly thought that the Easter egg came from the worship practices of the Germanic goddess Eostre, but there’s no evidence that eggs were associated with that goddess’ worship. Decorated eggs at Easter originated in the Middle East, not Germany or England.
An Easter egg hunt of hidden eggs represents Jesus hidden in the grave, to be found by Mary Magdalene. Martin Luther apparently began this tradition in 16th-century Germany. What about the Easter bunny? This also seems to be part of the German Lutheran Easter tradition going back at least four centuries. Like eggs, rabbits were connected to fertility in many cultures, but the Easter Hare was supposed to bring a basket of decorated eggs for good children – something like Santa Claus.
28. Acts 17:23 “For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.”
29. Romans 14:23 “But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.”
Should Christians celebrate Easter?
Definitely! Some Christians prefer to call it “Resurrection Day,” but Easter celebrates the most important aspect of Christianity – that Jesus died and rose again to take away the sins of the world. All who believe in His name can be saved and have eternal life. We have every reason to celebrate this wonderful day!
How Christians celebrate Easter is another question. Attending church to rejoice and remember the most important day in history should be a given. Some Christians feel that new clothes, colored eggs, egg hunts, and candy can detract from the true meaning of Easter. Others feel like some of these customs can provide important object lessons for children to teach them about the new life in Christ.
30. Colossians 2:16 (ESV) “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.”
31. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
32. John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Why is the resurrection essential to Christianity?
The resurrection is the heart of Christianity. It is the central message of our redemption in Christ.
If Jesus did not rise again to life after His crucifixion, then our faith is useless. We would have no hope of our own resurrection from the dead. We would have no new covenant. We would be lost and more to be pitied than anyone in the world. (1 Corinthians 15:13-19)
Jesus prophesied His death and resurrection multiple times ((Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:9, 20:19, 23, 26:32). If He did not rise again from the dead, He would be a false prophet, and all His teachings would be negated. It would make Him a liar or a madman. But because this astounding prophecy did come true, we can depend on every other promise and prophecy He gave.
The Resurrection of Jesus gave us the church’s foundation. After Jesus’ death, the disciples all fell away and were scattered (Matthew 26:31-32). But the resurrection brought them together again, and after His Resurrection, Jesus gave them the Great Commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:7, 10, 16-20).
When Christians are baptized, we die (to sin) and are buried with Him by baptism. Jesus’ resurrection brings us the glorious power to live new lives set free from the power of sin. Since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with Him (Romans 6:1-11).
Jesus is our living Lord and King, and when He returns to earth, all the dead in Christ will be resurrected to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
33. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
34. Acts 17:2-3 “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said.”
35. 1 Corinthians 15:14 “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”
36. 2 Corinthians 4:14 “because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.”
37. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
38. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
39. 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
40. Romans 6:5-11 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
41. Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
42. Matthew 16:21 “From then on Jesus began to point out to his disciples that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day.”
43. Matthew 20:19 (KJV) “And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
The power of His Resurrection
Jesus’ resurrection is so much more than a historical event. It demonstrated God’s boundless and all-encompassing power toward us who believe. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at God’s right hand in the heavenly places. The power of His Resurrection placed Jesus far above all rulers, authorities, power, dominion, and every single thing or person – both in this world, the spiritual world, and the world to come. God put everything in subjection, under Jesus’ feet, and made Jesus head over all things to the church, His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:19-23).
Paul said he wanted to know Jesus and the power of His Resurrection (Philippians 3:10). Because believers are the body of Christ, we share in this resurrection power! Through Jesus’ resurrection power, we are empowered against sin and for good works. The resurrection empowers us to love like He loves and to take His gospel to all the earth.
44. Philippians 3:10 (NLT) “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.”
45. Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Why should I believe in Christ’s Resurrection?
Jesus’ life and death is recorded as fact by the Biblical writers and by historians who were not Christians, including the Jewish historian Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. The evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection is outlined below. A number of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ Resurrection were killed for their testimony. If they had made up the story of Jesus’ rising from the dead, it’s unlikely they would willingly die rather than recant.
Because Jesus did die and was resurrected, your life can be changed if you believe in Him – that He died to pay the price for your sins and rose again so that you have the assured hope of resurrection yourself. You can know God the Father intimately, be guided by the Holy Spirit, and walk with Jesus daily.
46. John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
47. John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
48. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
49. Ephesians 1:20 (KJV) “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
50. 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
51. Romans 3:23 (ESV) “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
52. Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
53. 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
54. 1 John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
55. Romans 3:25 “God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand.”
What is the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?
Hundreds of eyewitnesses saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. As attested in all four Gospels, He appeared to Mary Magdalene first, and then to other women and disciples (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21, Acts 1). He later appeared to a large crowd of His followers.
“He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” (1 Corinthians 15:4-8)
Neither the Jewish leaders nor the Romans could produce Jesus’ dead body. The Roman soldiers at the crucifixion saw He was already dead, but to be sure, one pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out (John 19:33-34). Jesus was confirmed dead by the Roman centurion (Mark 15:44-45). The tomb entrance was covered by heavy rock, sealed, and guarded by Roman soldiers (Matthew 27:62-66) to prevent anyone from stealing Jesus’ body.
If Jesus was still dead, all the Jewish leaders had to do was go to His tomb that was sealed and guarded. Obviously, they would have done this if they could, because almost immediately, Peter and the other disciples began preaching about Jesus’ Resurrection, and thousands were believing in Jesus (Acts 2). The religious leaders would have produced His body to prove the disciples wrong, but they could not.
56. John 19:33-34 “But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.”
57. Matthew 27:62-66 “The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”
58. Mark 15:44-45 “Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.”
59. John 20:26-29 “A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
60. Luke 24:39 “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
At Easter, we celebrate the mind-blowing gift God gave us by Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. He gave the ultimate sacrifice to atone for our sins. What love and grace! What victory is ours because of Jesus’ great gift!
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
In this coming Easter, let’s endeavor to reflect on God’s wonderful gift and share it with others!