By Francis Frangipane
"Easter" Or "Passover"?
Most of us are aware that the early church did not celebrate Easter with jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chickens. The early Christians celebrated Christ's resurrection and the New Covenant that was fulfilled by Jesus Christ on Passover.
The word Easter actually comes from the Anglo Saxon Eastre, the "goddess of spring." As Christianity spread, to avoid conflict with local traditions, the early church incorporated several pagan holidays into church culture. Obviously, colored eggs, rabbits and chickens were not biblical symbols of resurrection but were actually part of the pagan fertility rites of spring.
Although most Christians, myself included, still refer to the season of Christ's resurrection as "Easter," in my heart, I look past the cultural roots of some of these issues and gently call everyone's attention to the great miracle that we've come to celebrate: the resurrection of Christ.
The Christian Passover
Yet, while we can forgive and cover non-Christian traditions in love, we should not let these traditions obscure the profound truth of God's Word. The Hebrew feast of Passover was not only commemorative, it was also prophetic in nature. Gentile believers saw a great fulfillment in the Passover, a fulfillment lived out in the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Even as Paul wrote, "Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast" (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
The Gentile Christians in Corinth were urged by Paul to celebrate the Feast of Passover. However, the gentiles did not engage in the Old Testament rituals as did the Jews. Rather, they approached the feast from its spiritual perspective, focusing on Christ, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Indeed, the Christian Church kept the Passover not only in remembrance of Israel's deliverance from Egypt but in the universal view, remembering and celebrating Christ, their Passover Lamb, delivering man from sin.
The Old Testament Passover, for all its powerful intrinsic and literal value, was actually an anticipation of what Christ would fulfill on behalf of mankind. Remember, the feasts were shadows of something greater than themselves. Paul said their "substance belongs to Christ" (Col. 2:17). Thus it is absolutely remarkable that, of all days in the calendar year, Christ, the Lamb of God, was crucified during the days of Passover. At roughly the same time the high priest was offering a lamb for the sins of the Jews, Jesus was praying for the sins of the world: "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
The Kingdom Passover
Yet there was more to the Passover, which the Lord related to His disciples during the "Last Supper" (the Passover). He said, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:15-16).
There will be another fulfillment to the Passover where the feast is "fulfilled in the kingdom of God." This will be a time when those who are truly Christ's are divinely protected during the sequence of end-time judgments. Whether you believe in a pre-, mid- or post-tribulation rapture, God has not destined us for wrath. The Kingdom Passover, fulfilled by the Lamb of God, positions us in the eternal protection, both now and at the end of the age.
In whatever manner Jesus' words shall be fulfilled, let us require of ourselves to partake of the whole Lamb. Let us diligently apply the Lamb's blood over the doorways to our hearts, as well as over our families and loved ones. And even as the world around us spirals ever deeper into darkness and judgment, let us instead press into God's kingdom. For the time is coming when we shall celebrate the Passover with Christ in the kingdom of God.