This year, Easter and Passover fall on the same weekend. It is the perfect time to start a new tradition. Good Friday morning I will go to Church, reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made with his life, and end the day with a much anticipated Passover dinner.
I feel a great deal of context is lost on me, as I have, in the past, recognized one without the other.
Christianity is Judaism extended. It might come as a great shock to some, but Jesus wasn’t Christian. Jesus, was Jewish. How can I understand him well if I don’t better understand the culture, traditions, and symbolism he was rooted in? It is like trying to understand the New Testament without the relevance of the Old, while one is the fulfillment of the other.
In the Old Testament (Torah) Exodus story, a story that is central to the Passover tradition, a man named Moses was sent to free the Israelite people from the slavery they had been living in. Moses tells the oppressed Israelites to sacrifice a lamb, an unblemished, first born, male lamb, and to put the blood of that lamb on their doorposts. God was coming to take the first born sons of the nation that had kept Israel in bondage. The blood of the lamb was to be a sign to the LORD that a home had an Israelite family in it, and to “passover” the home, leaving their sons unharmed.
Fast-forward thousands of years later, Jesus enters the scene. The long awaited Messiah, often referred to as the “lamb of God,” comes in flesh to this world, to bring hope to the nations. In order to save people, in order to bring them into eternal life, the blood of the “lamb of God” must be shed, just like the unblemished, first born, male lamb from the story of Exodus. Only the death of a sinless man (Jesus) could protect those who covered the doorposts of their hearts with the symbolic blood he willingly shed for many. Through his sacrifice, He opened the hope that eternal death could passover our souls.
This is where these two observances come together. This is why I can no longer celebrate Easter, without acknowledging the relevance of Passover.
Rewind. As the Israelites fled Egypt, they walked into the desert, only to find themselves faced with an impossible crossing; the Red Sea. After all they had been through, there they stood, crying out that they should have just stayed in Egypt.
Pharaoh and his army were fast approaching, and the Israelites had no where to hide. There they stood, stuck in a desert, Pharaoh behind them, the Red Sea before them, and they cry out to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast though taken us away to die in the wilderness?” No! It is in the wilderness they are about to see a great miracle happen.
“Fear ye not,” Moses says to the people. “Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will show to you today….The LORD shall fight for you,” (Exodus 14: 13&14)
A trembling crowd of Israelites before him, Moses lifts up his rod, stretches out his hand, and the Red Sea parts. The waters of the sea separate, creating walls on either side, revealing a path-way through to the other side.
Before us all stands an impossible crossing. I don’t believe that our stories end when death, like Pharaoh’s army, catches up with us. We will all one day stand before an impossible crossing. Like the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’ death and resurrection, unveils a path that makes it possible to crossover to the other side.
Even though the sea was parted, every fear the Israelites had still raged fiercely on their heels, as the threat of Pharoah’s army struck terror into their hearts. Then, as they reached the other side, the walls of the sea came crashing down, and the hounds of death were washed away. The threat of death died, and their fears were relieved.
With the reminder of death on my heels, hope is realized. A new life awaits me on a distant shore, but a way must be found to part the waters, and crossover the sea. For this reason, I celebrate Passover to remember I was brought out of captivity, and through Easter, I reflect that eternal death will one day be conquered, because Jesus’ blood made it possible for eternal death to passover me, and through Jesus’ death, the waters part so that I might crossover the sea.