4 Ways Jesus Turns Halloween on Its Head

Rather than celebrating death, we should celebrate the One who made a public mockery of it.

I cannot stand Halloween.

I love the autumn colors, the crisp air, and—yes—I’m already listening to Christmas music. It isn’t this time of year that I’m against.

And to be honest, I’m not such a prude that I have any real problem with little children donning cute, friendly costumes, getting outside, meeting neighbors, and being rewarded with sweets.

But I feel nothing but contempt towards the glorification of the occult, of death, of horror, and of gore that also accompanies the un-“holy”-day.

Many have written at length analyzing the modern American practice of Halloween from a standpoint of applying biblical wisdom, discernment, and principles regarding conscience. So, this article is not that.

Rather, I’d like to just poke a bit at Halloween.

Whether you love it, tolerate it, or abominate it, it’s difficult to deny that Halloween is one manifestation of the culture of death in the West—or what sociologist Philip Rieff calls “deathworks.” After all, at no other time of the year would most Americans willingly decorate their lawns with open graves or turn their front porches into crime scene vignettes.

Yet even in this mess, the fact that people feel comfortable making fun of death and hell is a faint, distant echo of the fact that death and hell have been defeated and brought to open mockery in history through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

This isn’t one of those “Four Ways the Gospel Is Hidden in Halloween” sort of pieces. Sorry if you came here for that. But there are some things Christ did that are well worth celebrating on October 31—or any other day of the year.

1. Jesus entered our neighborhood in disguise.

Two thousand years ago, God himself moved into our neighborhood. He “made his home among us” on earth (John 1:14). He knocked on our doors veiled in flesh, assuming a real human nature. God “sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have” (Rom. 8:3). The divine Son became a human like us—the God-Man, Jesus Christ.

But we did not “treat” him. “The world did not recognize him” (John 1:10). We left the proverbial torchlight off. We chose to hide in the dark with our sin rather than welcome him (John 3:19), and we killed him.

2. Jesus played a trick on the devil.

Shock and fright are all a part of the Halloween festivities. We make light of these things because fear is a real part of the human experience.

And what is truly fearful—horrifying, even—is facing a perfectly good, wise, holy, righteous God as judge who will hold us accountable for all that we’ve ever said, felt, or done.

Nobody can face him and live (Ex. 33:20). We all lie, steal, lust, and cheat. We’re more than just imperfect; we’re sinners (Rom. 3:23)—Satan’s slaves (Eph. 2:1-2), hostile to God (Rom. 8:7-8). We are doomed.

But Jesus came to offer us a treat—“to serve others, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He died on purpose to suffer the punishment we’ve earned.

And so Jesus played the greatest trick in history on Satan and his devilish horde. He freed us from Hell by paying our debt himself. He brought the devil to open contempt. Satan has been thrown down (John 12:31). Evil spirits run and hide at the name of Jesus now because “he shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross” (Col. 2:15). We have nothing to fear anymore.

3. Jesus publicly made fun of death.

The death of Jesus was intensely serious. Jesus felt devastatingly forsaken by God the Father (Matt. 27:46). Yet despite all this seriousness, Jesus then made a public mockery of death by conquering it in his resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3).

Christians worldwide can confidently, joyfully, and with the utmost seriousness taunt mortality itself: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55-57). Why? Because through faith in Christ:

  • We get a changed life right now (Heb. 10:14-18).
  • We get to be with him in heaven when we die (2 Cor. 5:8).
  • We get to be raised from the dead when he comes back to earth (1 Cor. 15)—we’ll literally live forever!

And right now, Jesus is still alive, ruling the universe from heaven, immune to death and its consequences. So we have every right to look death in the face and laugh.

4. Jesus wants to “hallow” you.

Of course, the word “Halloween” is a bastardization of “All Hallows Eve”—the day before All Saints Day on November 1. “Hallow” as a noun is a synonym for “saint” (holy one), and “to hallow” as a verb means to be made or displayed as holy, pure, and distinct.

Why did Jesus do what he did? Jesus came to “hallow” his people—to purify them from their sin and its consequences through his death and resurrection.

This gospel is no trick that’s too good to be true. It’s good news to be trusted. Jesus knocks on the door of our heart (Rev. 3:20). May we welcome him in and share this good news with our neighbors on Halloween.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on October 28, 2021.