A great number of people attend their church on “Good Friday” in remembrance of the Crucifixion, and again on “Easter Sunday” in celebration of his resurrection. Some Christians deny themselves of a favourite food for forty days before the Easter period.
For children especially, it is a time for “Easter Bunny” and Easter eggs, and “Hot Cross Buns”.
The Bible and Easter.
The Bible mentions Easter on only one occasion.
“And because [Herod] saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison…” Acts 12:3-5a
The Greek word translated here as Easter, is pascha, which referred to the paschal festival-or the feast of Passover-extending from the fourteenth to the twentieth day of the month Nisan. Other translations of the New Testament invariably translate the passage accordingly.
“So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.” Acts 12:4 NKJV
This feast of Passover originated as a Jewish celebration, dating from the time that God delivered His people from the hands of the Egyptians, and Moses lead the people away from bondage.
“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. 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. 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. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial…” Exodus 12:11-14a
From that time on, the date of the Passover was fixed.
“The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.” Leviticus 23:5,6
So this was the feast that Herod was referring to in his reluctance to bring Peter before the crowd when he wished. To do so while the Jews were celebrating Passover might have served only to provoke the crowd.
Easter, then, is never mentioned in the original Scriptures.
Easter and the Crucifixion
Although Easter, as such, may not have been mentioned in the original Scripture, wasn’t Jesus crucified at the time of the Passover?
The New Testament records that Jesus was actually crucified the day before the Jewish Passover. Again, like with Herod, the ruling people were reluctant to carry out anything during the Passover that might inflame the wrath of the Jews.
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”” Matthew 26:3-5