3/19/08

Easter—Far More than Jelly Beans

Like a former president, Ronald Reagan, I love “Jelly Belly” jelly beans. I have a bowl of soda pop-flavored “beans” on my desk right now! The gourmet jelly beans are famous. More than three tons of them were consumed during Reagan’s inaugural festivities in 1981, and the candies even took a trip into outer space on the 1983 Challenger shuttle.

A derivative of regular jelly beans dates to Biblical times in the form of Turkish Delight—a square, chewy-centered candy mentioned in C.S. Lewis novels. According to candyfavorites.com, the soft, round jelly bean is an offshoot of “Confetti” candy, which we know as Jordan Almonds. It is speculated that the sugar and syrup coating used on almonds was eventually used to coat a chewy center in the late 1800s when William Schraft created an ad for the candies and promoted sending them to Union Soldiers in the Civil War. As the first candy sold by weight, they were the first “bulk candy.” Jelly beans became part of the Easter tradition in the 1930s.

In a confusing metaphor, Easter Bunnies deliver eggs to signal the coming of spring, and also spiritual rebirth. As a child, I thought chocolate bunnies would lay jelly beans … until I got wiser and realized chocolate bunnies would give birth to baby chocolate bunnies!

When I got wiser still, I realized that chocolate bunnies and jelly beans have nothing to do with Easter at all. Rabbits, eggs, egg hunts, and Easter baskets are part of the secular (with pagan roots) traditions of Easter, which can be fun, but are not connected to the biblical celebration in this season of the year, known as Passover (Acts 12:1-4; Exodus 12:12-14; Leviticus 23:5). The word used in Acts is the Greek word pascha, derived from the Hebrew, pesach, or Passover—a ceremony commanded by God to be an annual memorial feast for Israel “forever.” Jesus Christ is the Christian believer’s “Passover” (I Corinthians 5:7-8). His death, as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), removed the need to kill a spring lamb.

When my children were young, we had “Easter Egg Day” and entered into the fun of the secular holiday on Saturday—but Sunday was “Resurrection Day,” and we kept that day holy to the Lord. That was my choice then. My children always understood the clear difference. With better wisdom, I think I would modify that considerably, and use the lamb rather than the bunny as an object lesson, and make cross-shaped cookies rather than Easter Eggs. Whether you choose to practice the secularized version of this season or not, be sure that your family understands that Jesus’ resurrection changed everything. The Lamb of God, slain for our sins, arose (I Corinthians 15:3-4), and someday this precious, worthy Lamb will rule over all the earth (Revelation 5:12-13).

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