WHAT IS EASTER ?
Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ's rising from the dead (His Resurrection) after His crucifixion which took place on what we now term Good Friday. Easter is usually celebrated on the first Sunday after the full moon following the Vernal or Spring Equinox on March 21st.
HOW EASTER WAS CELEBRATED IN ANCIENT DAYS?
Although of course Easter is a Christian festival, it has many pre-Christian, Pagan traditions. While the origin of its name is uncertain, some scholars accept the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, also know as The Venerable Bede, whose tomb is in the magnificent Durham Cathedral in
Easter festival celebrations probably embody a number of other traditions occuring at around the same time. Most scholars speak of the relationship of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew. The Passover celebrates the safe flight of the Israelites out of
At this time Jews remember how the children of
Despite pleas from Moses, every time Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites. He warned that unless his people were released from slavery and allowed to leave
Our Lord Jesus Himself was of course from Jewish parents, and many of the early Christians too were Jewish and raised in the Hebrew tradition. They regarded Easter as an addition to the Passover festival, which of course is a partly a commemoration Elijah's prophecy.
CHRIST AS A THREAT TO ROME AND THE JEWISH HIGH PRIESTS
As the Gospels tell us, Christ's message of peace, and love of your fellow man, began to worry the Roman Military Governor (Procurator or Prefect) of Judea (the Holy Land), Pontius Pilate, as He was beginning to gain quite a following. It also began to worry the Jewish leaders of the time, although they had very different reasons. Christ was beginning to be thought of as the Jewish Messiah.
As the representative of Roman Emperor Tiberius, Pilate was responsible for tax collection, maintaining the huge Roman estates in the
We know from writings at the time of Romans, Philo Judaeus and Flavius Josephus, that Pilate was a cruel man, brutal in enforcing his will but also probably incompetent, despite ruling for 10 years from 26-26AD.
Brutality at the time was almost a norm, but Pilate was so brutal that he was recalled to
The Gospels tell us that after the Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, it committed him to Pilate's Roman court, as it had no power to declare and carry out a death sentence. The blasphemy, the Sanhedrin said, was because Christ was openly saying He was the Son of God, and therefore the Messiah. Christ stated this under affirmation to the Jewish High Priests of the Sanhedrin.
Interestingly and rather surprisingly, Pilate refused to approve the blasphemy judgment without investigation; the Jewish high priests then made other charges against Jesus, and the governor had a private interview with him.
Pilate appears to have been impressed with the dignity and with the frankness of Jesus' answers to his questions and is said to have tried to save Him. Nevertheless, fear of an uprising in
As the Sabbath (Holiest day of the week) was now approaching, and burials were not permitted, Christ's body was laid in a new tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. It is thought that this was a tomb that Joseph had prepared for his own death, but having pleaded with Pilate for the release of Christ's body, he urgently needed a suitable safe place for the body to be kept until burial after the Sabbath. Assisted by a Roman called Nicodemus, Joseph bought fine linen in which he wrapped Christ's body as it was brought down from the cross. At the entrance to the tomb was placed a large bolder.
Nearly three days later, on the Sunday, Mary Magdelene and Mary, Mother of Jesus's disciple, James, entered the tomb to anoint Christ's body and prepare it for burial. However, upon entering, they were shocked to find the tomb empty. Christ's body had gone. The two Mary's saw an Angel who announced that Christ had had resurrected, and assumed life after death.
Naturally, they were very scared, but strangely comforted, especially when they spoke with several of Christ's disciples, who said Christ had appeared to them, and assured them that He had risen. From that time on, followers of Christ were assured the hope of life after death, an everlasting life in the