Written By Olivia Payne
Christians today are becoming more curious about Jewish holidays and the relevancy they may have within our faith. One of these holidays is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, more commonly known as Passover. Passover is a seven-day long festival that occurs during the 15th through the 21st days of the Jewish month of Nissan. Though many are not as familiar with the Judean calendar, Passover is celebrated in the spring season around the same time as the Christian holiday, Easter. Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover when He was arrested, was crucified and rose again. This is why Passover and Easter are celebrated around the same times each year.
So, what is the connection between Passover and Easter, and what can Christians today learn from it? Passover is also the first festival God commanded his people to celebrate as a permanent statue throughout the generations in remembrance of His deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12:14,12:17).
If we are now adopted sons and daughters into God’s family through the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:5) are Christians to also observe Passover?
To better understand the events that inspired Passover, one must first go back to the book of Exodus. In Exodus you find God’s chosen people, the Hebrews, enslaved under Pharaoh in Egypt. God hears His people’s cry and appoints Moses to travel to Egypt, commanding Pharaoh to let God’s people free. When Pharaoh refused, God sent a series of 10 plagues throughout the land. To prepare His people for the 10th plague, God instructed His people to slaughter a lamb and mark their door frames with the blood of the lamb. When God’s spirit of judgement was released over Egypt, the spirit would see the blood on the door frames, and pass over that household. Interesting—the sacrifice of a lamb, the covering of its blood—this story is foreshadowing for Jesus. Even in their exodus from slavery scripture was painting a prophetic breadcrumb trail of Jesus’ sacrifice for humanity.
Let’s examine the similarities of God’s Passover elements and Jesus who is called the Lamb of God.
|Jewish Observation rules for Passover||Jesus’ fulfillment of Passover|
|The lamb must be the first-born male (Exodus 12:5)||Jesus was the first-born Son of God (Mt 3:17)|
|The lamb must be without blemish (Exodus 12:5)||Jesus was without blemish (2 Cor 5:21)|
|The lamb must be set aside for four days (Exodus 12:6)||Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem during Passover before his death (John 2:13)|
|The lamb must be sacrificed (Exodus 12:6)||Jesus was crucified (John 19:16,18,30)|
|The sacrifice must happen by twilight [3pm by their understanding of time] (Exodus 12:6)||Jesus died around 3pm (Mark 15:33-34,37)|
|The blood of the sacrificial lamb must be applied… to be “saved” (Exodus 12:7,12:13)||Through the blood of Jesus, we are saved (Hebrews 9:22, Ephesians 1:7-8, 1John 1:7)|
|The body of the lamb must then be eaten (Exodus 12:7-8)||We participate in holy communion to remember His sacrifice (Mark 14:23, Matthew 26:26-28, Luke 22:19-20)|
|No bone should be broken on the sacrifice (Exodus 12:46)||They pierced the side of Jesus instead of breaking his legs (Psalm 34:20) (John 19:31-34)|
As the apostle Paul travels in his ministry, he proclaims the gospel and calls for a new understanding of Passover while still observing the festival himself. He even goes as far as calling Jesus our Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7-8). As Christians, we are not required to observe any specific holidays or festivals. Any observance comes from an expression of our faith and our joint abundant love in Christ Jesus. That said, as we approach Easter, let’s first reread the Exodus story with our friends and family to remember that we have all once been held in captivity, slaves to sin. God heard our cries and sent us a savior and by His sacrifice we have been covered in the blood and freed. By revisiting the celebrations of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, we find the promises for Jesus in many of these stories. Finding these hidden promises help to further enrich our understanding and appreciation for Jesus’s death and His resurrection. The more we learn and understand these prophetic clues, the more reasons we have to celebrate Christ Jesus each and every day.
Ultimately, we know that growing to understand the deeper meanings of biblical traditions of the Bible inspires the body of Christ to align with more biblical concepts and principles, and helps set us apart from the world and culture of today. If we are going to stand for truth and love, we must stay ever more closely connected with our Savior. The biblical principles evident in celebrations like Easter and Passover were given to us by God as a sign to other nations and people groups of our devotion to our faith. We are to be set apart.