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Should We Celebrate Jesus Christ's Resurrection?

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is indisputably an important event within Christianity. It provides hope and assurance that we may also receive eternal life. It is also proof that Jesus was indeed the long-promised Messiah. Millions of people gather every year on Easter Sunday to commemorate His resurrection. But should they? Is the veneration of this particular day something God intended? Is He pleased with this form of worship and the activities associated with this day?

The answer to these questions rests upon the issue of who determines which days are set aside for worship. If we are free to choose our own days, we can select any occasion we desire. But, if we will allow God, through the pages of the Bible, to determine on which days He is to be worshiped, we should not observe Easter. Here is why.

When we examine the humanly devised Easter celebration, obvious questions and problems come to mind. For example, where in the Bible can we read about Easter symbols and customs such as Easter rabbits, Easter-egg hunts and eating ham? Where did they originate?

These popular customs in fact came from decidedly nonbiblical-heathen-practices. Of course, some will contend that their worship centers exclusively on Christ's resurrection and that they ignore these customs. However, such arguments run counter to God's explicit command that we must worship Him according to His instructions, not adding to or taking away from them (Deuteronomy 12:28-32).

Further, careful study reveals that Christ was not resurrected early Sunday morning as so many people have been led to believe. His resurrection occurred about 12 hours earlier, just before sunset on the weekly Sabbath, a day that God had already authorized to be observed every week.

Aside from Acts 12:4 (where pascha, the Greek word for "Passover," is mistakenly translated "Easter" in the King James Version of the Bible), this celebration of Christ's resurrection is nowhere to be found in Holy Scripture. There simply is no biblical record of the earliest Christians ever observing it. Why? Because God Himself established the specific days of worship for His people. Those days included the weekly seventh-day (Friday-night and Saturday) Sabbath and seven annual festivals (Leviticus 23), but they did not include many celebrations and traditions that were later established, such as Easter.

The biblically sanctioned occasions, which God in Leviticus 23:2,4 calls "My feasts" and "the feasts of the LORD" (rather than festivals exclusively for the Jewish people), represent steps in His plan of salvation for humanity. They show that He eventually will offer every person the opportunity to reconcile to Himself through His Son, Jesus the Messiah, whose role in our salvation is a central focus of the meaning of these days.

If you would like to learn more about the problems with humanly devised celebrations and the spiritual benefits of worshiping God on the days He sanctioned, request our free booklets Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Keep?, God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind, and Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest. To receive these eye-opening publications, simply request them from the office nearest you (see page 2), or download them from the literature library of our Web site at www.gnmagazine.org.

-David Treybig

© 2000-2015 United Church of God, an International Association

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Keywords: resurrection of Jesus Easter Christ's resurrection celebrating Easter 

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