Why did Easter have to happen during Passover?
Easter (the celebration of Christ’s payment and our redemption) had to happen during the Passover. But why?
I think this is one of my favorite posts. Because all the things within the Passover celebration point to Christ’s work on the cross. As I was writing this, I was so excited to explore and learn. Because all the symbolism of the Passover is at the heart of why I wanted to write ‘An Easter Bunny’s Tale’ in the first place.
I hope you are encouraged that God is a god of details and planned from the beginning of Israel for Jesus to fulfill all prophecy and be our Passover Lamb.
What is Passover?
Passover a major Jewish holiday that occurs in the spring on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. Passover marks the remembrance of the Exodus of the Children of Israel and the deliverance from Egyptian slavery, when God "passed over" the houses of the Israelites during the last of the ten plagues.
Originally the Israelite people were instructed to bring in a spotless (perfect) lamb into their home and care for it for four days, before killing it and spreading it’s blood over the doorposts over their homes to be a mark of atonement so that the angel of death would pass over that house and not kill the first born sons in the tenth plague.
Let’s break this down:
Spotless lamb- Israelites were to sacrifice a male lamb one year old - in the prime of his life - when he was at his strongest. Jesus was about 33 years old - pinnacle of earthly strength and maturity (Exodus 12:2-6). Male lamb was to be without blemish. Jesus is our example of perfection and sinlessness - without blemish. A lamb is patient, noiseless and submissive to death as was Christ (Isaiah 53:7 - Matthew 27:14). Four Days- For these days the family was to care and tend to the animals every need and search it for any blemish. Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem four days before he was sacrificed. (Exodus12:2-6 - John 12:12-15). The entire assembly of the congregation of Israel was to kill their lambs. A priest did not do this. Everyone was to witness and be responsible for the death of the lamb. We are all responsible for the death of Christ on the cross. It was our sins that crucified Him (Exodus 12:6 – John 3:16).
Door Posts- Strong wooden posts that created an entrance. A gateway that wouldn't be available if the wooden posts were not in place.
Escape Death- The blood of the lamb was to be put on the two doorposts and lintel so that they might be passed over when death came to Egypt. It is the blood of Christ that keeps us from everlasting death (Exodus 12:22 – Hebrews 9:14).
Other symbols of Passover
Bitter Herb- The meal was to be eaten with bitter herbs to remember the bitter slavery, suffering and hardships in Egypt. During the Lord's Supper we are to remember Christ's hardships and suffering (Exodus 12:8 – I Peter 4:1).
Unleavened Bread- The meal was also to include unleavened bread (Exodus 12:8). Leaven is a form of corruption, sin, and impurity. Paul instructs the church about leaven and its spiritual application in I Corinthians 5:7-8. We are to be unleavened - clean out malice and evil from us. Jesus alludes to this in Matthew 16:6-12 when He says beware of the leaven of Pharisees and Sadducees. This also refers to Jesus’ body that was without sin. (Matthew 26:26) The Israelites were to eat in haste with their shoes on, staff in their hand and ready to go, looking forward to their future as free men. We as Christians are to be ready to go - watching and waiting for Christ to come - looking forward to our future in heaven as men free from sin (Exodus 12:11 – Luke 12:37).
Wine- Four ritual cups of wine are used for the Passover.
Cup of Sanctification- "I the Lord will bring you out from under the yoke of slavery" (Exodus 6:6); this was God setting the children of Israel apart for Himself.
Cup of Plagues- “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine. . . . Exodus 6:6b: “I will deliver you from their bondage.”
Cup of Redemption- This probably the time Jesus passed around the third cup, and exhorted his disciples to drink all of it for it represents his bloodshed for sins and represents a new testament. (Luke 22:20) For it is by Christ blood that our relationship with God is redeemed.
Cup of Praise- Celebration for what God did at the time of the Exodus and what he would do for the people of Israel
Bone- Lamb was to be roasted whole - no broken bones. Christ was crucified and died with no broken bones - even though the soldiers were sent out to break His leg bones to hasten His death (Exodus 12:8-9 – John 19:31-36).
All the elements in the Passover point to Christ. Every tradition and element eaten during the Sedar meal was God’s way of showing the Israelite people what he would need to do not just to save them from the Egyptians but from the punishment of sin and the separation that happened at the Fall of Man ( Genesis 3)
Even the Egyptians that, out of a fear, painted their door with the blood of the lamb were spared the tenth plague. Because God wants to save all of his creation. He never intended us to be separated from him, but he has done everything and used everything in the Jewish people’s history to point to the work of Christ on that final Passover celebration.