Monday, April 18th is Passover. How will you honor the day? While a Passover Seder meal can be very elaborate, since we have little ones at home who have short attention spans, ours will be simple. Here is how our family will celebrate:
1. Our table will be beautifully set to signify an important event. In the center of the table will be a plate holding three things: horseradish, a bone, and matzah (from Exodus 12).
To the present day Jews, the horseradish (or bitter herbs) represents the bitterness of slavery in Egypt; but for Christians, the horseradish represents the slavery/bondage of sin.
Likewise, to present day Jews, the lamb's bone symbolizes the unblemished lamb eaten before the Hebrew slaves fled Egypt, the lamb whose blood was placed over the doorposts to ward away the death angel. To Christians, however, the bone symbolizes the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus' physical body, that was sacrificed on the cross for our salvation.
Last, Matzah symbolizes the unleavened bread eaten before the Hebrews fled Egypt. For Christians, the Matzah represents a celebration of being free from the bondage of "leaven" or sin, because of the blood that was spilled on an old cross.
The historical story of Passover intertwines so perfectly with the death and resurrection of Jesus. As a family, we discuss all of these similarities before eating to set the mood for the evening.
2. We will eat a traditional Passover meal/feast (I will be happy to forward recipes for anyone who might be interested). The meal will not include any leaven (yeast).
3. After our meal, around the table, Chappy and I will share the story of Jesus' death and resurrection and how we believe the original Passover in Exodus was God's way of painting a beautiful picture of the Savior who was to come. One aspect of this time that always blows me away is when we discuss how Jesus died just as the Passover lambs for the Passover meal were being slain. Not a bone was to be broken in these sacrificial lambs (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 5:7).
During the Passover time, a sign was hung on each lamb's neck to identify the name of the owner of the perfect, unblemished lamb....essentially, that lamb was taking the place of the person's name it carried around its neck....bearing the death penalty of sin. Each time the family looked into the eyes of the little lamb, they were reminded of the magnitude of their sin and the fate of death that had been placed on the little lamb because of someone else's sin.
In the same way, Jesus died with a sign hung over His head: YHWH, the Hebrew initials meaning Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. He was our unblemished lamb, a constant reminder of the eternal death penalty we all deserve because of our sin.
How can all of this be coincidence? It cannot be. THAT is why Passover is so absolutely magnificent! And to top it all off, Jesus rose from the grave in three days; He arose from the grave on the Feasts of Firstfruits! It makes me so excited just thinking about it all. Our Father is so meticulous in His plans, because He doesn't want us to miss anything.
From "A Family Guide To The Biblical Holidays" (which is a MUST for every family yearning to follow God's Way): "On Nisan 17, when Israel emerged from the Red Sea, this emergence was a shadow of the fulfillment of the day of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14). This was the first of God's people to emerge from sin (Egypt). It was fulfilled 1,478 years later on Nisan 17, 30 a.d. when Jesus was resurrected and ascended to heaven as our high priest, the Firstfruit of the resurrected (John 20:17)." I'm lifting my hands toward the heavenlies and shouting right now....no human author could write such an amazing picture story of love! And it all began in Exodus, for us today.
4. We will conclude our evening with some dessert (typically yummy maccaroons) and some songs of worship. The Passover meal will be behind us, but the week celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread will be in full force. Again, remember, yeast represents sin. So, during this week, as a family, we use the time to open our hearts and minds to specific ways we can overcome our sin nature. This is a designated time during the year for us to be brutally honest with ourselves about weaknesses, temptations, and sin. Galatians 5:16-24, outlining the fruits of the spirit, is read each night during our devotion time during the week. In addition, we follow the suggested Bible readings from the book mentioned above: "A Family Guide To The Biblical Holidays". (I cannot say enough good things about this book!)
INVITATION: If you live in the Nashville area and would like to celebrate Passover with our family, let me know....you can bring a dish or two to share as we celebrate our salvation (and the roots of our faith) together!!! The only rules for food are: no leaven and no pork/shellfish.
Sooooo, the question everyone is asking by now: How about Easter? Well, did Jesus celebrate Easter? Of course not. What about the early church...did they celebrate Easter? Ten years after the resurrection of Jesus, in Acts 12, we learn of Herod's persecution of the followers of Jesus:
"Now about that time, Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover."
So, ten years after the resurrection, the feasts of God were still being celebrated while Easter was not mentioned (although a few translations have inserted the word Easter in the place of Passover since it has now become widely accepted by the Christian church). This begs the obvious question: Where did Easter come from?
While I would love to elaborate on this subject, I won't. I really do not want to create any enemies with my beloved blog followers. Sometimes tradition is so deeply rooted into the fibers of our being, that even when faced with factual truth, we will not allow ourselves to believe it. I will mention, however, that the Puritans did not come to America and celebrate Easter or Christmas, but they did celebrate the Holy Days from Leviticus 23. It was not until after the Civil War that Easter became a full-on American tradition.
To close, all in all, the Easter celebration is a personal choice everyone has to make. As for me, I know the bunnies, Easter eggs, and fancy baskets have absolutely nothing to do with my salvation and honoring God, so they don't bother me. I am comfortable placing Easter in a secular category, totally separate from the Holy Day of Passover. If you have replaced Passover with Easter, you might want to dig in, study, and reconsider.