Relationship between Easter and Passover

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"Relationship between Easter and Passover"
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Passover and Easter are beautifully intertwined. Most know Passover and Easter always coincide in March or early April. However, there is a deeper spiritual connection and unity between them of which many are unaware. For thousands of years, to Jews the Passover is officially designated the "Season of Liberation" or "Season of Joy," and wherever there is a city with a sizable Jewish population you can count on feverish preparations for the event.

The deliverance of Israel from Egypt is the focal point of Jewish identity and history, as much as the resurrection of Christ is for Christians. For it was on Calvary that a greater deliverance was accomplished for all of man.

Nowhere can the inseparability of Easter and Passover be observed more clearly than in the Passover celebration of the Jews and the Last Supper as observed by Jesus shortly before His death, when He told them, "With [great] desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." (Although not part of the celebration today, for hundreds of years Jews served lamb as the central point of the Passover Meal.)

Now the full significance of what the Passover really meant was about to at last unfold. One the one hand, you had the Jews, who could only be spared death if they sprinkled the blood of a lamb on their doorposts before sundown, when the Destroying Angel swept through Egypt, killing the firstborn in every unsprinkled house that night; and now you have the disciples, at the Last Supper, sitting in the very presence of the real "Lamb of God." (Remember when God had told Abraham thousands of years before to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac but at the last minute told him 'Don't do it," and instead provided a goat in a nearby thicket as a substitute?) Now, the actual manifestation of their most sacred ritual, what it was really all about in the first place, was right there with them in the Upper Room. So close you could touch him.

God, because it was impossible that anyone else could possibly bear the unimaginable weight of the sin of every human being who'd ever lived or ever would live, and because it was also impossible that it not be punished, put own His Son in the thicket, and thus laid on Him a pain no human has ever experienced, in order to sprinkle blood this time on a different kind of doorpost-the fleshly tablet of mens' hearts.

Among the most important connections between Passover and Easter is the eating of the "Aphikomen." Early in the meal the father takes the middle matzo of the three unleavened cakes. (Unleavened bread, or the matzos, symbolizes the unleavened cakes the Jews hastily prepared when Pharaoh forcibly decreed their immediate leaving of the land.) The father breaks the middle matzo, and after pronouncing a benediction, passes it around the members of the table, while the second half is hidden and brought forth at the end of the meal.

The hidden half of the unleavened middle cake is a subtly poignant tradition that still exists to this day. Although it's not part of Easter, for Christians that hidden matzo is a wonderful reminder of the second Person of the Trinity, Christ, who was "hidden" in the bowels of the earth for three days to actually fulfill the symbol's meaning.

In the Incarnation, the final reality of what the passover lamb sought to convey was realized. And so, as Jews celebrate their deliverance from slavery, so Christians celebrate their redemption from sin and eternal condemnation.

More about this author: Jeffrey Jason Hill

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