Good Friday (“Långfredag” in Swedish = “Long Friday”) is connected to EASTER, but just because we choose to call one day of the week FRIDAY and the particular Friday connected to Easter “Good Friday”, it doesn’t mean that we celebrate or worship the Norse god Freya by doing so. I feel so much joy to think about EASTER (and Christmas, and Pentecost), and the fact that so many secular countries still maintain an Easter celebration with so much focus on Jesus Christ, despite that our Lord is very much removed from secular homes most of the time. Easter provides a great opportunity to make even atheists think about Jesus Christ – who died on the cross one day for about 2000 years ago – because he is the reason for this particular day whether they like it or not.
After Good Friday we celebrate Påsk which is “Easter” in English, and Påsk derives from the Hebrew name Pesach (in Greek it’s called Pascha) which means Passover. PASSOVER is something which is Biblical, is it not? Surely then, it’s not a sin to commemorate Jesus Christ through the Passover? The first Passover concerned the passover LAMB which had to shed its blood for the Israelites (who applied the blood on the door post) prior to the departure to the promised land – and it’s a picture/prophesy of Jesus Christ.
Ex. 12:3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.14 And this day shall be unto you for a MEMORIAL; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
John 18:39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
1 Cor. 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
Hebr. 11:28 Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
Every year there will be thousands of children asking their parents questions such as “Why do we call this day Långfredag?” “Why do we celebrate Påsk?” “Why did this Jesus have to die for us on the cross?”, and their parents will try to answer their questions even if they are agnostics! What an excellent way to bring Jesus into our homes! You can even see Jesus-films on TV, and if you listen to the radio you will sooner or later hear someone talking about Påsk and why we celebrate it. This is actually free “evangelism”poured out right into people’s living rooms, and to me it’s a puzzle why some christians would like to stop all this from happening.
Maybe this is not a big deal in countries like America where it’s still common to be confessing christians and where you talk about Jesus in Church or at home, but over here this particular holiday weekend (together with Christmas and Pentecost) might be the only chance some families have to hear about the gospel.
Every year there will be some well-meaning christians who warn others about Easter because it’s supposedly pagan, but they are confused about the name “Easter” (it’s not called Easter in most countries) and they don’t seem to think about the negative outcome related to their fight to eliminate Påsk/Passover from people’s homes. Remove this Easter holiday (and Christmas and Pentecost), and Jesus will soon be a very forgotten person for even more people. Is this really what we want? Instead of spending time warning about Easter, try to spend your time spreading the gospel about Jesus Christ! It’s of course no obligation to celebrate Påsk together with decorations of chickens, hens, rabbits, eggs, or whatever the man-made traditions might be.
Easter is allegedly derived from the Babylonian goddess Astarte (equivalent to the Assyrian goddess Ishtar), and this idea comes from an oft-cited 19th-century book, The Two Babylons, by the Scots reverend Alexander Hislop. However, “Easter” doesn’t derive from paganism.
Do read this article from Christianity Today about the background of Easter and this article from Jonathan Sarfati about yet more details concerning Easter.
Excerpts from the links:
Hislop’s research is very shoddy in many places (Hislop is refuted in A Case Study in Poor Methodology). He tries to see paganism everywhere, on even the flimsiest grounds. In this case, he imagines a connection between Easter and Astarte purely on the basis of sound similarity, with not the slightest trace of linguistic connection or any borrowing. By this spurious method, one could connect the Potomac river with the Greek ποταμός (potamos), although there is no connection between the native American and Greek words. In reality, the word Easter is really Anglo-Saxon (sometimes Ester), not Babylonian. It was the common word for both Passover and Easter.
An example of the word meaning the Jewish Passover comes from a 1563 homily: ‘Easter, a great, and solemne feast among the Jewes.’ Anglo-Saxon itself is a Germanic language, and this is the genuine origin of the term Easter. Germans likewise used the word Oster or Ostern for both Passover and our Easter. E.g. when the Reformer Martin Luther (1483–1546) first translated the Bible into German (1545), he used a number of German words relating to this, such as Osterfest (Passover/Easter), Osterlamm (Passover lamb). E.g. compare Luke 22:1, 7. Even in modern German, the ‘das jüdische Osterfest’ means the Jewish Passover. In turn, this word comes from Ost, or the sunrising, i.e. East. In turn, this is likely to come from the old German word auferstehen / auferstanden / Auferstehung meaning rising from the dead/resurrection. Luther used these words as well, e.g. throughout 1 Corinthians 15. So the pagan derivation of Easter is conspiratorial fantasy. The word is Anglo-Saxon, and derived from the Germanic Oster meaning Passover, and is related to the words for Resurrection.
Tyndale was also responsible for introducing the word ‘Ester’ into the English Bible. John Wycliffe, who produced the first English Bible in 1382, had translated from the Latin, and left the word pascha basically untranslated and called it pask or paske. Luther occasionally did likewise, using the transliterated form passah. For example, in Lev. 23:5, he rendered ‘the LORD’s Passover’ as ‘des Herrn Passah’, and in Ex. 12:27, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord’ was ‘Es ist das Passahopfer des Herrn’. But when Tyndale prepared the new Testament, he followed Luther’s more common practice and used the most common word in his native language. That is, while Luther most often used Oster and its cognates, Tyndale used Ester and its cognates. Note, if the Hislop pagan derivation theory were correct, it would imply that the godly Tyndale and Luther before him were really calling Jesus the ‘Astarte Lamb’ or ‘Ishtar Lamb’.
But when Tyndale translated the Old Testament, he thought that it was anachronistic to use the word Easter for the Jewish feast. This is because, as above, the derivation of Easter comes from the resurrection, which had yet to happen. So Tyndale went back to the root of pesach, i.e. pasach, meaning ‘to pass over’, and coined the new term Passover.
So it is due to Tyndale, not to paganism, that some English Bibles have two different words, Easter and Passover, to translate a single Hebrew/Greek term. As the KJV was essentially the 5th revision of the Tyndale Bible, and retains about 90% of its wording, it keeps this feature. But it more consistently applied Tyndale’s logic to retain Easter only for Acts 12:4, where the Christian resurrection celebration was in view not just the Jewish feast. For all other occurrences, the KJV translators used Tyndale’s new word ‘passover’. But this obscured the traditional meaning of Easter that included the Jewish Passover. Modern translations generally use only one word, Passover, to translate pesach/pascha.