In the Greek Orthodox Church, it is a Maundy Thursday tradition to hard-boil some eggs and dye them red. The red symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed on the cross on our behalf. Families arrange the eggs in a basket or into some other decorative display and put them up in their home, where they serve as a reminder of Christ’s death and entombment.
On Easter Sunday, Christians ceremonially crack open the eggs, symbolizing how Jesus cracked open the shell of his tomb and emerged with new life. As friends and families have fun hitting the eggs against each other, they are reminded not only of Christ’s resurrection to new life, but of their own as well. The shell thus represents not only the physical rock that sealed Jesus off for three days, but also the sin that encases us before we “hatch,” so to speak. The message of Easter is that Jesus Christ broke through the shell of death and sin so that we can be born anew in the Spirit.
In cultures all over the globe, stretching back before Jesus’ time, the egg has always symbolized fertility and life—but to (Greek Orthodox) Christians, it has this added personal meaning. The birth and life and growth that we speak of is of a spiritual nature and is wholly grace-based.
North Carolina artist Grace Carol Bomer invokes the symbolism of the egg in her painting Heaven/Earth.
The painting is about how Jesus connects both realms with the ribbon of his blood, Bomer says on her website; in one word, it’s about atonement (literally “at-one-ment”). Earth, which occupies the bottom third of the painting, is represented by a thorny nest. (Thorns were the curse of Adam after the Fall [Genesis 3:17-19], and also a tool of torture that Christ endured prior to his execution [Matthew 27:29; cf. Mark 15:17, John 19:2].) But from these thorns emerges an egg, which is being lifted up by a red ribbon dangling from a white robe. The robe represents the righteousness of God and the heavenly realm wherein it dwells in all fullness.
Christ’s death is the fabric that connects man to God, heaven to Earth. It lifts us up to new life; it ties together; it at-ones. What a beautiful Easter image.
“With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:8-10).