"And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quarternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people." (Acts 12:4)
I know that verse may seem rather ambiguous, so I'll clarify that it's speaking of the time that King Herod had Peter arrested and jailed, after having orchestrated the killing of James the Son of Zebedee. What's significant is that in the King James Version, the word Easter is used in that verse! I think it's important for my fellow Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians to think about that! I'm not a Greek scholar, but my understanding is that in the original Greek, the word is pascha. It's commonly translated "passover" and most other versions of the Bible, including the New King James Version, say "passover" in Acts 12:4, but after researching this matter online, I've found out that it is not wrong to translate it as "Easter".
Most of my readers know that although I pastored an Assemblies of God church for over twenty years, I'm not currently pastoring. However, my wife and I are active in a very good church. I think it was last year that I wished a woman who was sitting in front of me, "Happy Easter!" prior to the service. She gave me a big smile, albeit a slightly nervous smile.
"Thank you for saying 'Happy Easter!'" she commented, "I get so afraid of people getting offended and saying, 'I'm a Christian! I don't celebrate Easter! Don't you know, it's Resurrection Sunday?!'"
I heartily agreed with her. I told her Easter is one of my favorite days of the year. I've called it "Easter" all my life and I still call it "Easter"! Of course it's Resurrection Sunday! Of course, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that's what we celebrate! But that woman really "hit it on the head" in my opinion!
One of my professors at Central Bible College (way back there in ancient times!), The Rev. Terry Lewis, used to caution and urge his students, "Let's not major on the minors!" Amen, Brother Lewis! Sure, using the admonitions of Romans chapter fourteen as a guide, it's fine for people to call the day we celebrate Jesus Christ's Resurrection just about anything they want to! Sure, it's a matter of personal convictions! But we say we want visitors at church for "Resurrection Sunday". And we say we want people to receive Jesus Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior on that Day. And, yet, they walk in the door, they say "Happy Easter!" and we -- jump down their throats?! -- Again, let's not major on the minors!
I suppose I'll offend some of my fellow Christians here, but I've loved milk chocolate bunnies since I was a little kid, and I still do. And, I like the Easter dinners, and coloring Easter eggs, and even the little marshmallow chicks! One fond memory is that I'd just come home from the hospital after having had my tonsils out around Easter time in 1961. My father felt so bad that I'd had to go through that over Easter that he got me an unusually large milk chocolate bunny which he kept in the refrigerator for when I could eat it. I know, the eggs, and the bunnies, are from pagan fertility traditions and have nothing to do with Christ's Resurrection. Yet, it's kind of all part of our culture, and I don't have a problem with that stuff. Listen, Christmas trees, and so many nativity traditions have nothing to do with Jesus Christ's birth, and He certainly wasn't born on December 25. Yet most of the people who refuse to say, "Happy Easter!" have Christmas trees and other cultural traditions at that time of year, so again, let's not major on the minors.
I know I'm a little bit early. We still have Palm Sunday and Holy Week to get through, but I'll say it now and I'll say it a week from tomorrow: "Happy Easter!"
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