I was watching the news yesterday and one of the stories highlighted an Easter egg hunt. That’s not uncommon, of course, at this time of year, but it had me remembering my own childhood and my children’s growing up years. I remember waking up early on Easter morning and hunting for an Easter basket, rather than the individual eggs, each year when I was young. Being the eldest child, my basket was usually hidden in the hardest spot. I didn’t care—the hunt was as much fun as finding the basket itself!
I continued the tradition when my own children came along. My mom, a new grandma, threw in a little Easter egg hunt at her house after Easter dinner. The kids had fun scrambling around Grandma’s house finding plastic eggs with candy and sometimes money inside them. As the years passed my youngest sister has had Easter dinner every year at her house, and she has made sure to continue the Easter egg hunt for all the little nieces and nephews. Sometimes it is indoors, sometimes outside, depending on the weather, but the biggest difference now is that it is the teenagers hiding the eggs for their little siblings and cousins.
It never dawned on us, back when I was growing up, or even when my children were young, to question the customs of dyeing eggs and hunting for them, or pretending the Easter bunny brought baskets for us. We knew it was all make-believe, like Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. We knew what Christmas and Easter were all about—Jesus—and that He was not make-believe. All the cute traditions of those special holidays were fun, but we knew the truth about the Gospel and we never allowed the secular to become more important than the sacred.
These days, as materialism and commercialism have overshadowed the true reasons for these beautiful, holy celebrations, there has been a backlash among many Christians against those secular elements that have become a focus of the holidays. My own daughters do not “do” the Easter bunny and Easter baskets and eggs with their kids. They don’t judge others who do, but for their own families they just feel better leaving those things out of their Easter.
Well, let me backtrack on that a bit. They have in the past done “Easter” eggs with their children but not in the typical way. They actually call them “Resurrection Eggs.” These eggs are sold in Christian bookstores or online, but you could also make a set yourself. Resurrection Eggs are a lovely way to share the story of Christ’s death and resurrection with your children, or as an object lesson while teaching a Sunday School class or Children’s church.
Start with a recycled egg carton and decorate it appropriately with the title “Resurrection Eggs” and symbols of the true meaning of Easter. Fill the carton with twelve plastic eggs in different colors. Hidden in each egg, you will place a little token representing different parts of the Easter story. The story may be told all in one sitting, or spread out through the week beginning on Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday. The items inside the twelve eggs are:
1. A bit of palm leaf – “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (John 12:12-13)
2. Bread (or pita or cracker) – And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26
3. Silver coin – “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26: 14-15)
4. Purple cloth – “And they clothed him with purple” (Mark 15:17)
5. Thorns – “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29)
6. Piece of rope, twine, or thick string (a scourge) – “And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)
7. Cross – “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him” (John 19: 17-18a)
8. Nails – “But he [Thomas] said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25b)
9. Sign – “And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” (Luke 23:38)
10. Spear (toothpick or whittled piece of wood) – “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” (John 19:34)
11. Rock – “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” (Matthew 27:59-60)
12. Nothing (the tomb is empty) – “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:6)
When we think of eggs, we think of birth and new life. John 3 tells us of Nicodemus who came secretly to Jesus, sincerely wanting to know the truth about Jesus and His message. Jesus told him he needed to be born again. He needed a spiritual rebirth and a new life. And then He said something else. It was Nicodemus who first heard from Jesus Himself the world’s most well-known verse of Scripture: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The essence of the Easter story: God’s love for each and every one of us provided a way of salvation through Jesus’ shed blood and a new, eternal life in Him
Eggs, as well, have long been used as an object lesson to try to explain the concept of the Trinity—three in one. The yolk hidden inside represents the Holy Spirit living within each believer. The white of the egg is between the yolk and the shell and reminds us that Jesus is the Mediator between God and man. The shell which surrounds the egg symbolizes the Heavenly Father, our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God.
Yes, I know some say the Easter egg had its origins in pagan celebrations centuries ago. I’m just saying, though, perhaps it has gotten a bad rap. There is a lot we can learn from our “Resurrection Eggs.” They are a reminder of the New Life we have in Christ, and a picture of the very nature of our awesome, Triune God.