Thursday, May 12, 2022

Passover, Easter and Good Friday

Good Friday is a time when most Christians acknowledge the crucifixion of Jesus and Easter is when we celebrate His resurrection. In truth, these modern holidays have little to do with the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, except for the fact that Jesus rose on the first day of the Jewish week which was on a Sunday, for that particular year. Our Lord was not crucified on Friday, as most people believe.

Jesus was Jewish and many forget that Israel doesn’t look at months or even days as we do. They have their own lunisolar calendar that is driven by the cycle of the moon and balanced by the seasons of the solar year. For this reason, Jewish feasts, such as Passover, can occur on a variety of Gregorian dates. Some years it may begin on the Sabbath; while others will begin on a different day. Passover began on a Wednesday night the year our Lord died. Walking through the accounts of His capture, crucifixion, and resurrection will prove the day Passover began and when Jesus was crucified. 

Passover - Day 1 

Wednesday Night

The Hebrew day begins at sundown since God began creating the Earth before the sun and moon were shining a light upon the Earth. Passover sedar (dinner) is served as Passover begins in the evening of the first day. After dinner, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was taken captive. 

Thursday Morning

The next morning Jesus went before Pilate:

And immediately when it was morning, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes and the whole council, held a consultation; and when they had bound Jesus, they took Him away [violently] and handed Him over to Pilate. (Mark 15:1 AMPC)

After the meeting with Pilate, Jesus was crucified later that day. All four accounts in the Gospels agree to the time of day Jesus was crucified: 

And when the sixth hour (about midday) had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour (about three o’clock). And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?—which means, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me [deserting Me and leaving Me helpless and abandoned]?” 

And some of those standing by, [and] hearing it, said, See! He is calling Elijah! And one man ran, and, filling a sponge with vinegar (a mixture of sour wine and water), put it on a staff made of a [bamboo-like] reed and gave it to Him to drink, saying, Hold off! Let us see whether Elijah [does] come to take Him down.

And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed out His life. (Mark 15:33-37 AMPC)

It was noon on the first day of Passover that the Lord was crucified. An eclipse blocked out the sun from the time Jesus was crucified until He died. Eclipses usually only last minutes, not hours, so this was not a natural phenomenon. 

Passover - Day 2 

Thursday Night

Day two of Passover begins on Thursday night at sundown. This is known as “the day of Preparation” because Jewish households will need to prepare the meals they will consume on the Sabbath. 

As evening had already come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, [the day] before the Sabbath, Joseph, he of Arimathea, noble and honorable in rank and a respected member of the council (Sanhedrin), who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, daring the consequences, took courage and ventured to go to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15:42 AMPC)

From this scripture, you can see that it is the evening after Jesus died, and this is the day of Preparation which will extend until Friday at sundown. In a Gregorian (non-Jewish) calendar, Jesus died on Thursday and was buried later that night. Good Friday should actually be Good Thursday! There is no reason to celebrate on the Friday before Easter. 

Passover - Day 3

Day three of the Passover, the year Jesus died, was the Sabbath year. Because it is a day of rest, nothing is written about it in the Bible.

Passover - Day 4

Sunday Morning

Now after the Sabbath, near dawn of the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to take a look at the tomb. (Matthew 28:1 AMPC)

Our Lord lay dead three days and three nights, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and He rose on Sunday morning, the first day of the Hebrew week. 

Celebrating Easter

There is a big debate about the connection of Easter to a pagan holiday. Should Christians celebrate Easter? There are two considerations when joining in this celebration:

  1. Nowhere in scripture do eggs and bunnies come into a Godly celebration.
    • Let go of the Easter bunny and embrace Jesus.
  2. Easter will fall during the time of Passover, don’t forget what that means.
    • The focus on Easter decorations often takes precedence over and removes the focus from the sacrifice of Jesus and what He fulfilled by becoming our Passover Lamb.

Our Lord rose on a Sunday. This is a great reason for Christians to gather in fellowship on Sundays. It is normal for Christians to gather on Sunday and the one referred to as Easter must not be misunderstood. 

For many years I celebrated Easter like most Americans. My kids awoke to find plastic eggs and candy in baskets. We would hide the eggs for the kids to find, later in the day after a brief Easter service at our church. Then, one year, I saw a movie that was directed and produced by Mel Gibson called “The Passion of the Christ.” 

Hollywood did its best to hinder the release of this movie which was a huge success in the USA. As I watched that movie, the suffering of my Lord became real to me, even though scholars claim the fullness of what was inflicted upon Him could not be presented because the blood and violence would be too graphic for an “R” rating. 

Our Lord lived a perfect life, completely obedient to His Father in every way. Then, on that Passover day so many years ago, He gave that life for us even though He actually didn’t want to be crucified:

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” And there appeared to Him an angel from Heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:41-44 ESV)

Jesus was born for the destiny of fulfilling Passover once and for all, but fulfilling that destiny wasn’t easy. After an angel strengthened Him, the stress of submitting to God’s will was so great that He sweated drops of blood. Not only did Jesus have to go to the cross, but  He also had to submit His will to His Father. When one of the disciples attacked the guards, Jesus rebuked him saying:

Think you that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Matthew 26:53 AKJV)

It is one thing to endure torture, but it is quite another to know that you can ask to be rescued at any time and still endure the pain being inflicted upon you. Why did our Lord submit to the torture of the cross? 

…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 AMPC)

I believe that the angel revealed to Jesus all those who would go to Heaven through what He was doing. Jesus knew that we needed Him in order to become His Bride. This is why when we meet in private,  I often refer to Him as “My Love.” He loved us so much that He endured the cross for us. 

It was a demonstration of the “Agape love,” the God-kind of love we receive from Him and give to others, holding each other up through any difficulties. We can only receive His love if we keep in mind that what we endure in this life is nothing compared to what He suffered. Then, we can endure all things for Him, because He endured all for us!

It didn’t happen all at once, but every year I contemplated what He suffered, what my Lord endured. Every year, the idea of celebrating “Easter” with bunnies and chocolate seemed more and more offensive to me. It was distracting me from the amazing, wonderful, complete, and perfect gift My Love gave, when He suffered for me.  

Unfortunately, my earthly husband didn’t get the same revelation, though he saw the same movie. He was not in agreement with forsaking Easter for Passover. We must be obedient to our husbands. 

I did small things to put more focus on Jesus: like creating a scavenger hunt for the eggs with clues to find the “big prize.” Afterward, I explained to my kids that our walk with Jesus is much like this: we have to look for subtle clues, sometimes searching for answers as we develop our relationship with Him. That relationship is the biggest prize of our life. 

My youngest is now an adult. No more Easter in my home, “Praise be to God!” I have confessed, repented, and plead the blood over all of my participation in eggs and bunnies. I am now free to celebrate Passover with My Love, alone! 

Passover is a seven-day event for Israel, however the way we celebrate it can be different since Jesus fulfilled it. Here is what I plan on doing, focusing on what the Lord accomplished:

1st Day: (after dark)

  • I will spend time in prayer just as Jesus did, asking God to strengthen me to submit to His will, especially when I don’t want to. 
    • As the sun rises, throughout the next day, I will contemplate on the fact that He chose to suffer for me, knowing He could have escaped at any time.

2nd Day

  • I will think about the mystery of what happened as they placed Him in the tomb and sealed the door. We cannot know exactly what He did, but I will wonder:
    • Was He placed in Satan’s hands to be tortured for a time?
    • How did He minister to those who had passed on and set them free?

3rd Day

  • This is the day of rejoicing: He has risen! Having done all, now ALL authority is His. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. This is a day to worship Him!

Throughout the rest of the week, I will read the accounts in the Gospels of what our Lord did once He had risen. How did the disciples respond? How do I respond when something unexpected happens?

Passover 2022

It is good to look at the Jewish holidays, even though as non-Jews we are not commanded to observe them. This year, Passover begins on the Sabbath. There are a few changes in the Passover celebration because of this, the most notable being the focus of the prayers. 

When Passover begins on a Sabbath this year, the prayers become focused on love and rest. Our Lord has told us our focus should be the same this year. It will be the year that the “valley of the shadow of death” comes upon the world. Christians will need to remember the love God showed when He sent His Son to die for us. We need to draw close to Him where His rod and His staff protect us. We must rest in Him and in what He has accomplished. 

Rest does not mean inactivity, it means to trust in and lean upon the Lord. As this new season is upon us, we need to know that Jesus is strong, has all authority, and can help us overcome any difficulty when we are willing to draw close to Him and learn His ways. As long as we are trying, as long as we learn and apply what we learn, we must trust that His grace is sufficient for whatever we lack. As Apostle Paul said,

Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. 

    • I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and 
    • I also know how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. 

I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]. (Philippians 4:11-13 AMPC)

Paul wrote most of the New Testament. He makes it clear that there were times of abundance and times of lack. It is our secure reliance on our Lord that enables us to endure and flourish despite our circumstances. Poverty is not always due to sin. Sometimes it is a time in a dark valley we must go through. Abundance has its own challenges; are you using what the Lord has given you for His purposes? No matter what side of this equation you find yourself in, resting in the Lord, drawing close to Him, and walking in His ways is where you will find His strength!

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:35 ESV) 

Christians should be known by their love for one another. As we all enter into the valley of the shadow of death, we should be there for one another. Our love and support for one another is what sets us apart from the rest of the world. 

We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 ESV)

It is not our love that we show to others, but the love of our Lord. He showed us how much He loves us on Passover. This Passover, consider what that means. Ask Him to give you His love for your Christian brothers and sisters so that the world can see Him through our actions. 

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