What’s the deal with the Easter eggs?

Pastor Ron Buxton

There are many things in our culture that get handed down from generation to generation without much thought given as to why we do such things that we do. A case in point would be two weeks ago. How many people, if asked, could rightly describe just who Saint Patrick was? Obviously, few could provide any kind of historical background that would be remotely true to just who this important person was. My article this week regards our cultural ignorance (and I don’t use that word in its normal derogatory sense) about Easter celebrations. We simply have gone through the motions, with holiday decorations that match the yearly calendar, without giving it much thought.

       Let me take a crack at elucidating one of those “cultural mysteries” that, quite frankly, most people might not even care to know about. What’s the deal with those decorated eggs at Easter? How does that even relate to that even more mysterious bunny that carries baskets of eggs?

       Let me begin by saying that there did exist Pagan religions during the earliest centuries of human history. The use of eggs and rabbits can easily be seen as symbolic to the fertility gods that many of those early religions celebrated. That being said, in my extensive research, I have yet to “nail down” any specific writings or records that are historically verifiable. Much of what has been published is conjecture at best. That is not to say that the Pagan practices of worship did not utilize such objects in their ceremonies.. However, history has not given clarity into that.

       It was the 1700’s that German immigrants brought much of what Easter has become to American society. They had decorated eggs, placed in colorful baskets, that were carried by rabbits. The cultural customs began to emerge. Again, not much historical writing describes why they did such things, only that it kind of has continued throughout the last two centuries. Of course, I could join the “band wagon” of folks that see such symbols of celebration as anti-Christian. And maybe they were, and maybe they still are. But I choose to take the attitude of the Apostle Paul.

       If you have read his encounter at Athens, Greece (found in Acts 17), then you know that he observed an “altar to an unknown god” (17:23). No doubt, this was where people celebrated something they didn’t know anything about. Sounds like Easter to most secular humanists nowadays, no? Like the same crowd that decorate with Santa Claus and reindeer at Christmas. Rather than chide the people for worshiping some Pagan deity, the Apostle looked for a redemptive analogy. And that’s what I would like to do with this Easter business.

       C.S. Lewis used an illustration of an egg to present mankind’s mortality and need for a radical transformation. He wrote- “We are eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must hatch or go bad.” Christ has provided new life to those who would confess their sin, repent of living life their own selfish way, and believe upon His vicarious death, burial and resurrection. It’s the great exchange.

       So this Easter, as you see those decorated eggs, remember that illustration. The egg must either hatch or go bad. New life in Christ is the “hatching”. God wants you to get out of your “shell” of a life separated from Him. It doesn’t matter how pretty your “shell” is with all its colors and decorations. The egg will go bad unless it hatches. New life is waiting outside the shell.