A Study on Passover and Easter

The internet seems to be increasingly filled with posts, articles, and even whole websites dedicated to questioning the roots of traditional Christian observances. We who live under the New Covenant are instructed to "return" to the festival observances commanded in the Old Covenant and to reject what are increasingly being deemed the "paganized" Christian holidays, particularly those of Easter and Christmas. And the posts and articles can be very convincing, offering reasoned arguments and even citing Scripture to support the claims that Christian holidays, and all their customs and traditions, derive from ancient pagan holidays and therefore should be rejected in favor of the "Biblically prescribed" feasts and holidays. But is it true that Christian holidays and observances and the many customs and traditions associated with them are in fact pagan in origin? Particularly Easter and Christmas, the two observances that are central to the Gospel account of the life and ministry of Christ? What actual evidence is used to support the charge, and does it really even matter? For some, perhaps it doesn't matter. But for others, it does, and it matters greatly.

The Judeo/Christian faith is not based on myth or legend or grand philosophical theories. It is a faith that is squarely rooted in actual historical events, intimately drawn in the lives of real people, and forever etched in the words of those who laid down their lives to bear witness to the things they saw and heard. The Judeo/Christian Scriptures are the single most important historical record mankind has been graced with, for it is the record of the Hand of God at work in time and history to bring about His will and His purpose for the world He has made.

For Christianity ... history matters.

And for those whose faith is squarely rooted in the Gospel record of the life of Christ, the question of the historical roots of Christian holidays and what they celebrate is vital to a real-world, living faith. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In the early days of the Christian faith, believers were often condemned as cannibals because pagans totally misunderstood the Lord’s Supper. And so too with baptism. Pagans misunderstood the rite of baptism and accused Christians of drowning their new converts. Such misguided criticism seems silly to us today, and yet, the Passover vs Easter controversy is no different. Those outside the church, and even some within, not understanding either Passover or Easter, offer the same misguided criticisms, some even accusing Christians of paganism for observing Easter!

But the mistake is a simple one. Easter is not the Christian Passover. The Christian Passover is the Lord’s Supper, Communion, the Eucharist, whatever name a particular sect of Christians choose to call it, the “meal” at which Christians partake of the elements that represent (or some believe transform into) the body and blood of Jesus. That “feast” or meal or supper is the New Covenant Passover, and that feast is the fulfillment of everything the Old Covenant Passover foreshadowed.

As with the Old Passover, the New Passover is a commemoration, a remembering of the Lord’s sacrifice, the body and blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who has delivered us from the slavery of sin and its judgment. And this feast is celebrated variously by different sects of Christendom, some use crackers, some flatbread, some drink wine, others grape juice, some observe it annually, some monthly, some weekly, and some even every day. It is not, nor should it be, an observance of a date on the calendar, for this feast in its spiritual reality is an ongoing way of life observed on a day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis, forever. Our life with God is and forever will be dependent upon our partaking (taking a part of) the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus to atone for our sins and reconcile us with God. So that’s the first mistake of Easter’s critics, the Christian Passover is the Lord’s Supper.

The second mistake is not understanding that Easter is the celebration of the resurrection! And the resurrection of Jesus did not occur on the Passover, it occurred on the third day of Unleavened Bread, a Sunday in the year of our Lord’s Passion. And Christians the world over celebrate that history-changing event with the Biblically sanctioned method of celebrating all the wonderful works of God … with a feast! Not on the Passover, the 14th day of Nisan on the Jewish calendar, but on the Sunday following the Passover, in commemoration of the day Jesus rose from the dead, Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the 8th day, when God began the New Creation … with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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