Should Christians Celebrate Passover or Easter… or Both?
The Jewish holiday of Passover remembered the event of the Israelites coming out of bondage in Egypt. God told His people to slaughter a male lamb and sprinkle its blood over their doorposts on the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan 14). When the death angel visited Egypt on that day, he would “pass over” the homes that had the blood on the doorposts signifying that they were followers of God.
God commanded His people to hold a special meal on Nisan 14 each year to remember this special event (Leviticus 23:4-5). This meal was called the Seder meal. Jesus observed this meal with His disciples on the evening of Nisan 14 just before He was arrested, tried, and crucified. When Jesus celebrated this meal with His disciples, He told them that when they did this every year at that appointed time to remember Him. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Passover (I Corinthians 5:7). The lamb that was killed and shed his blood pictures Jesus death on the cross. He shed His blood and died for us so that we can have life: eternal life. He is the unleavened bread. Leaven represents sin. Jesus is sinless. He is the bread of life. He is all we need (John 6:35).
God has not changed His command for His children to observe Passover. Before Jesus died on the cross, God’s people looked forward to the perfect Lamb of God who would give His life for our sins. Since Jesus’ death on the cross we look back to Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, who gave His life for our sins. Christians should celebrate Passover! It recounts God sending His own Son, Jesus, to die so that we might live.
Easter is often referred to as the Resurrection Sunday. It is a day we set aside to remember Jesus rising from the dead. His resurrection is as important as His death (I Corinthians 15:13-19). I believe Christians should celebrate Christ’s resurrection!
Would it surprise you to learn that the Early Church did not celebrate Easter? There is no mention of Easter until the fourth century. What about Acts 12:4 which mentions Easter? Actually the word in the original Greek is not Easter it is the word for Passover.
But Constantine talked about celebrating Easter at the council of Nicaea didn’t he? Actually no he did not. The English translation of Eusebius’ notes mentions Easter but Eusebius’ original notes in Greek calls that celebration the “Feast of Salvation” and Passover. I love that! The Feast of Salvation is exactly what Passover is! Passover proclaims the salvation of God!
You must decide for yourself how and when you are going to celebrate Jesus death, burial, and resurrection this year. As for me, I prefer to follow God’s Word the best I can. I will be celebrating it this year the week of Nisan 14 (April 11) with my family. We have started a new tradition (not new but new to us) of having a meal with roasted lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread, and grape juice. I share with my family the story of Passover and how Jesus fulfilled all those pictures of salvation for us.
© Dr. Steven L Smith 2017