THE CONNECTION BETWEEN PASSOVER AND EASTER By Melinda Bauman
Have you ever wondered why Passover and Easter occur at almost the same time every April?
Passover is considered a Jewish holiday while Easter is a Christian holiday. Is there some connection between Passover and Easter? What, if anything, do these two holidays have to do with each other?
Passover celebrates God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt , where they were slaves to the Egyptians.
Before Pharaoh let the people go, they put the blood of a lamb upon the doorposts of their houses. The Old Testament states: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it”. The lamb was to be roasted with fire, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, and the household was to eat the lamb. The people were to eat the lamb with haste and to be ready to leave Egypt that night. At midnight that evening, death passed through the land. Every house that did not have the blood on the doorpost suffered the judgement of God. Passover literally means to “pass over”. Death passed over the doorposts covered with blood. Every Passover the Jewish people eat a meal called the Passover Seder. The purpose of this meal is to remember their freedom from slavery in Egypt . The night before Jesus was crucified, He ate the Last Supper with His disciples. This was actually a Passover Seder. During the meal, Jesus instructed them to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of Him. The bread symbolized His broken body, and the wine symbolized His blood. This is the purpose of Communion in the Christian church.
Another Jewish holiday called the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the day after Passover.
This is a seven day festival where the Jews are to eat unleavened bread, called matzah. Unleavened bread has no yeast in it. On the night the Jews left Egypt , they were in such a hurry that there was no time to let the bread dough rise, so they ate the unleavened bread. Three days after the Passover is the Feast of First Fruits. In the Old Testament, God commanded the people to bring in a sheaf of the harvest.. This was called the sheaf of the first fruits, and the priest would take it and wave it before the Lord. This is known as an agricultural harvest festival. The nation of Israel was familiar with the concept of first fruits. The first fruits were the choicest or the best of all that was to follow. Everything was to be presented before the Lord as first fruits to Him.
Christian tradition holds that Jesus Christ died on Good Friday and rose from the dead three days later on Resurrection Sunday, or Easter. How does this connect with the Jewish holidays of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits? John the Baptist described Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The feast of Passover was fulfilled by the death of Jesus. Instead of a lamb being slain, Jesus Himself was killed.
The Passover lamb that was to be slain by the high priest was led into the temple and put in a place of display.
Jesus went on public display after He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and entered the temple. He was questioned in front of the people for four days, showing Himself to be without spot or blemish. The Passover lamb had to be without spot or blemish. On the day of Passover at 9:00 a.m., the high priest took the lamb and ascended the altar so he could tie the lamb in place on the altar. At the same time that day, Jesus was hung on the cross. At 3:00 p.m. the high priest cut the throat of the lamb with a knife and said the words, “It is finished”. At this same time Jesus died, saying “It is finished”. Jesus died at precisely 3:00 p.m.
The God of Israel’s redemption of His people from Egypt is a foreshadowing of the Messianic redemption, that is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through salvation, we pass over from sin and death to eternal life in Jesus. Just as the blood of the Passover lamb protected the Jews from death in Egypt , the blood of Jesus protects us from death. In the New Testament it says: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Sincerity involves purity and serving God with a pure heart. It involves putting away the sin in our lives, and separating ourselves from all evil that has a corrupting influence in the life of the Christian.. The New Testament also states: “Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God”.
If Jesus died on the Passover and became the Passover Lamb, what happened three days later? He resurrected from the dead. The Feast of First Fruits is prophetic of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said that He would rise three days after He was slain, which was on the day of the Feast of First Fruits. Jesus is called the first fruits of those who rise from the dead. The New Testament records: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming”. Jesus is both the firstborn of God, and the first fruits unto God. Jesus is the sheaf of first fruits. Because Jesus rose from the dead, Christians will also rise from the dead! We will be resurrected during an event known as the rapture. This is recorded in the Bible: “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall all be changed”.