We are at that time of year when many people celebrate Easter and all of its special days (Lent, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, etc.). Many people, myself included, treat it as a secular holiday to enjoy with family. However, most of the world views it as a sacred time to offer special worship to the Lord. While it is commendable on their part to want to honor Jesus, we as worshippers must always ask ourselves if what we are doing in worship is acceptable to God. It is actually an offense to Him, instead of a blessing, to do things contrary to His will in worship (Gen. 4:4-5; Matt. 15:7-9).
There is no doubt that the traditions of Easter originated in the minds of men. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1995 edition, “At the Council of Nicaea in 325, all the Churches agreed that Easter, the Christian Passover, should be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon (14 Nisan) after the vernal equinox” (p. 303). We can learn at least two things from that statement: (1) men had to rely on sources other than the Bible to determine when Easter should be practiced and (2) they viewed Easter as a continuation of the Jewish Passover. That is, Easter is to be to the Lord’s church what the Passover was to the Jews—with Easter being celebrated around the time of the Jewish Passover. The question we must ask then is does God want us to celebrate the religious ceremonies of Easter? Is it something He inspired the apostles to teach Christians?
In Acts 20, we read that Paul waited at Troas to break bread (take the Lord’s Supper, 2:42) with the saints on the first day of the week. “But we sailed from Philippi after the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and five days later joined the others at Troas, where we stayed seven days. On the first day of the week we came together to break bread…” (vv. 6-7). Men tell us that Easter Sunday is the day to break bread because that is the day Jesus came back from the dead. It is the crescendo of what men call Holy Week, the final week of Jesus’ life: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, then Easter Sunday. These manmade terms all center around the God-given feast of Passover, which is when Jesus died (Luke 22:7; 24:1). Problem is, Paul and the saints were participating in a memorial for Jesus weeks after the Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred for seven days after the Passover (Lev. 23:5-6), yet Paul and the saints at Troas were taking the Lord’s Supper weeks after Unleavened Bread. Had they been celebrating Easter, they would have broken bread on the Sunday before or during Unleavened Bread. Instead, weeks later, they were taking communion on “the first day of the week.”
We can discuss at another time the way in which God distinguishes weekly observances from annual (Lev. 23:3-6), but for now let us recognize that Jesus wants us taking the Lord’s Supper every week to remember His death (1 Cor. 11:23-29). If He wanted an annual celebration of His resurrection, He would have told us.