Welcome back friends! Yesterday we discovered that the Jewish observance of Passover coincides with the Christian observances of Good Friday and Resurrection Day. Indeed, the Christian and Jewish events share some similarities, though it is rare that the holidays are observed simultaneously.
Let’s consider some similarities. The very essence of the Christian celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Day are deeply rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover, so let’s start there.
Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23:5-14 actually lay out the requirements of the 8-day Jewish commemoration of Passover (which also includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits). However, the Passover account played out as the Israelites escaped bondage from Egypt. Moses was sent by God to deliver the people, but the Egyptian pharaoh did not heed Moses’ appeal. Thus, God took action on behalf of His people!
A plague would descend upon Egypt that would take the lives of every first born unless families sacrificed an unblemished lamb and smeared blood on their doorposts. Hebrew families complied with God’s command and thus, their first borns were spared.
Ultimately, the pharaoh relented, the Israelites were set free, and annually Jews the world over celebrate that release from bondage as prescribed in Leviticus 23. Passover commemorates their release, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds them they had no time to allow their bread to rise prior to escaping Egyptian bondage, and the Feast of First Fruits celebrates giving the first fruits of the harvest as an offering of thanks to the Lord.
In the Christian narrative, Jesus Himself fulfills each of those Jewish feasts! Jesus was the Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for your sins and mine. (John 1:29) It was the blood of the lamb that caused the angel of death to “passover” their house on that fateful night in Egypt. It is the blood of the Lamb of God that causes Him to “passover” (forgive) our sins. Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was crucified on Good Friday, which we commemorate tomorrow.
Jesus also fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread. When leaving Egypt, there was no time for the yeast to cause bread to rise, so they were commanded to remove the leaven (yeast). Throughout Scripture, leaven is representative of sin. We are to “leave out” the sin in our lives, and fortunately, that is what Jesus’ forgiveness does for us! It removes sin as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12) Jesus fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread on our behalf!
Finally, Jesus also fulfills the Feast of First Fruits. The Israelites presented the first of their harvest as an offering of thanks to God. Miraculously, the resurrection of Jesus makes Him the first fruit of those who will ultimately be resurrected:
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
~1 Corinthians 15:20
That is our guarantee that, as believers, we will follow our First Fruit (Jesus) in resurrection. We will be raised from the dead to live with Him forever!
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.
~1 Corinthians 15:21-23
Indeed, Jesus is our Passover Lamb, our Unleavened Bread and our First Fruits! All that, we celebrate in the coming week, beginning tomorrow! Meanwhile, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people, as it was through them that Jesus was revealed to us! As you celebrate, why not thank the Lord for His people and ask special blessings upon them as they celebrate their feasts!