I have had questions as to why we celebrate Passover and not Easter. The article on today's Yahoo page explains it pretty well! Click here to read the full story or read excerpts below.
According to various sources, including the good people at Mental Floss, the Easter Bunny has a long history as a pagan symbol. Experts believe that early Christians "co-opted" the rabbit as a way to make their own holiday more popular.
The abbreviated history: "Many pagan cultures held spring festivals" hundreds of years ago. One such festival was in celebration of "Eostre, the goddess of dawn." Mental Floss explains that Eostre was "linked to the hare and the egg, both symbols of fertility." As a way to convert the pagans to Christianity, missionaries began turning the festivals into Christian holidays.
As for the modern version of the Easter Bunny -- you know, an enormous rabbit who wears a bow-tie and looks very cute -- he's mostly taken from German traditions that stretch back to the 1500s. Again according to Mental Floss, "The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children."
The story of passover points directly to Jesus. Reading through the story with my children over the last week and a half, have reminded us of God's awesome ability to redeem. Reading through the law that Moses was given directly by God, reminds us that God has a standard. It is a standard set by a Holy God who is unable to be with sin. The law shows us that we absolutely can not do it on our own. Then we see God's plan of a sacrificial lamb, without blemish or defect, the blood offering that is able to make atonement for our sins. It ALL points directly to Jesus, his selfless act on the cross and helps to increase our understanding of just HOW awesome what He did for us is!
As for Easter, well celebrating the resurrection on Easter is something a Pope came up with hundreds of years ago to coincide with the celebration of the Goddess Easter. It actually goes against what the Bible says about what Christ did. Jesus said all he would give the people is the sign of the profit Jonah, who spent 3 days and 3 nights in the belly of a whale. He said the temple (His body) would be destroyed and would be rebuilt in 3 days. There are other such references to 3 days. If you celebrate Good Friday and Easter the way it is prescribed in traditional Christianity, you only have 2 days and 2 nights. As a person just seeking God, this troubled me. How could the Bible be trusted if THIS, a cornerstone of the faith is WRONG?
The passover lambs were selected by the people on Saturday, which is when we see Jesus making his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
In actuality, Jesus ate the passover meal with His disciples on a Tuesday (on our Calendar). Then we see him going to the Garden of Gethsemane where he was taken by the soldiers. He was taken before the religious leaders, then to Pilot, Herod and back to Pilot who ultimately decided to crucify him. At 9 am, He was nailed to the cross. This is the same time when the priests were looking over the sacrificial lambs that were brought to make sure they were without blemish. At 3 pm, when the lambs were being sacrificed, Jesus said, "It is finished." And died. He was laid in the tomb. He was in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights, just as the Bible says, because the Bible is God's word. The women had to rest from sunset to sunset just after he was laid in the tomb because it was a holy festival day (Thursday). The following day (Friday), they had to prepare for the Sabbath and prepare the spices, but there was no time to embalm the body of Christ. The next day, was the Sabbath (Saturday), they could not attend to Him then, either. Though I believe he actually rose on Saturday evening, 3 days and 3 nights after being laid in the tomb. Early on Sunday morning, they went to the tomb to find it empty. You can read more about this here and here
God also told the Israelites to observe the passover to remember how He delivered them from slavery. In the same way, we were slaves to sin until Jesus' blood redeemed us. Remembering the passover, is remembering what Jesus did to save us. Jesus said in Mark 7:9 that we shouldn't set aside God's commands in order to observe our own traditions.
All of this combines to equal the reason we choose to say "Happy Passover" today! I hope you have a wonderful celebration of the one true risen Savior of the World, who paid the ultimate price for our sins.