I’d be willing to bet, if I were a betting man, that y’all celebrated Easter when you were young, complete with Easter baskets with a big chocolate bunny, Easter eggs, jelly beans and throw in the Easter egg hunt for good measure.
And – if you were a church going family, you were told that Jesus was crucified on Good Friday, and rose again on Easter.
What if I were to tell you that you’ve been celebrating a pagan holiday all of these years – you be like, “C’mon man, people been doing Easter for centuries,” and you’d be right. People have been celebrating Easter since 325 AD.
But what did people do from about 30-33 AD until 325?
Well, Messianic Jews and Christians celebrated the Passover.
So why aren’t Christians doing this today? Good question, why aren’t we?
The answer came from the sitting Roman ruler at that time, Constantine. Up until that reign of Constantine, Christians were persecuted, Constantine was the first ruler to give Christianity a break and ruled it an official religion.
He did rule that the day set aside for celebrating Christ’s resurrection was never to fall on Passover, because the holiday must “have nothing to do with the murderers of the Lord,” meaning of course, the Jews.
You see, Catholics then, and even today, lay Christ’s death squarely at the feet of the Jewish people, forgetting that the Romans had a hand in this too.
During the Council of Nicea in 325, a meeting of the Catholic bishops at the time, Easter was to be declared to occur on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the Spring equinox.
The Council of Nicea was convened to standardize many of the practices of the emerging church – Easter was no exception. The Lord’s resurrection would no longer be celebrated on Passover – that was a Jewish holiday, and it was the Jews who killed the Lord, therefore, this holiday was set.
Again, they forget that the crucifixion was a joint effort between the Romans and the Jews.
The biblical account of this time is a bit sketchy in the Gospels, but the most accurate is found in the Book of John. Yes, they had a Passover meal although when that meal occurred is not mentioned in the Gospels.
John accurately puts the crucifixion on display as to when it occurred:
Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. (John 19:31 NKJV)
Note the reference to “Preparation Day” – it refers to the day prior to Passover when all preparations to the Passover were to be done. The search for any and all leaven (yeast, and anything containing yeast such as bread) must be removed from the home, and the Seder meal was to be prepared.
Passover started at sunset that day, and the Seder meal would be offered and served that night.
Passover is a Shabbat or a Sabbath day, Jesus’ body could not remain on the cross after sunset, as preparing a body and burial were not permitted on Shabbat. Jesus was already dead, unlike the two thieves – who needed their legs broken to hasten the process of death. This is shown in verse 33:
But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.
Referring back to verse 31, those who loved Jesus wanted Him taken down so that could be prepared and buried before sunset, in keeping with the Jewish Law.
Preparation Day – Jesus was crucified
Passover – Day 1 in the tomb
The next day is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Although unleavened bread was eaten at the Seder, this day is set aside to remember how when the Hebrews were released in Egypt, they were in a hurry, and all they took was unleavened bread.
Feast of Unleavened Bread – Day 2 in the tomb, to remember that there was no sin, nothing in Jesus that could spoil him. His body didn’t decompose in the grave.
The next day is the Feast of First Fruits where an offering is given to recognize God gave His best.
Feast of First Fruits – Day 3, and Jesus arose from the grave. God gave His first fruits, His best, His only son, for the remission of our sin, past, present and future.
Jewish tradition back then didn’t make note of births – which is why we really don’t know when Jesus was born. Yes, we can make some educated guesses based on Ezra 10 – it was cold and rainy in the ninth month which would have been in the December timeframe, and shepherds keeping their flock out by night would be derelict in their duty…but they were awfully good at keeping track of deaths.
John fulfilled this in chapter 19. Any Jew – and I mean any Jew who keeps the holidays, would know the references in John 19:31-33.
The pilgrims on the Mayflower, on coming to this new world, didn’t celebrate Christmas or Easter, as they shunned pagan rituals. Many Messianic Jews, myself included, don’t recognize Easter (or Christmas).
I’m not telling you what to celebrate, I’m just giving history here. I’m just telling you to pray on it.
This year, 2022, Passover is this Friday (Good Friday), which means the Crucifixion is remembered this Thursday, until sunset. It just so happens that Easter and the Feast of First Fruits fall on the same day. This happens rarely, but this year, we remember the Resurrection on the same day
The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. The crucifixion is the final and perfect paschal sacrifice for our sin – past, present and future. The resurrection is the triumph over sin – Jesus was victorious over the sin of this world.
If you haven’t repented of your sin and surrendered your life to Jesus, now is the time to do it.
You’re not promised tomorrow. Jesus could come and take us home at any time. Even He doesn’t know when – only the Father knows (Matthew 24:36)
And with the way things are going here on earth, biblical prophecy shows that this could be closer than anyone thinks.
I want to see you in heaven … the entire Heb10 church wants to see you there. I can’t give you the words – it’s got to be between you and the Lord. We’re here however, if you have questions or want to talk further.
Blessings, and Happy Passover!