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The Connection Between Easter and Passover

This year, the Jewish holiday of Passover begins at sundown on Good Friday. This is the fourth time this century they have been on the same date, the others being 2012, 2015, and 2018. It won’t happen again until 2029.

Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. But Passover and Easter don't always coincide. Last year Passover was in March, and Easter was in April.

Passover and Easter have a lot in common. Besides both being in the spring, “Both holidays face head-on the daunting power of death — and both announce God’s greater power of life. … Passover emphasizes the blood of the Passover lamb, which Moses commands the Israelites to put on their door frames so that the Angel of Death, sent to kill the firstborn of Egypt, will ‘pass over’ them. This image — the lamb whose blood saves — is taken up in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation. … The theological meaning is plain: Jesus himself is the Passover lamb, offered as a sacrifice for the whole world.”

Many people think that Passover is always during Holy Week, as Jesus was at a Seder at the Last Supper, but that is not necessarily the case. In fact, there is a lot of debate as to whether it was a Seder or not.

According to an article titled, “What Jesus Really Ate at The Last Supper,” “The debate comes with the Gospel of John, which in John 19:14 states that Jesus was crucified on the ‘day of the Preparation for the Passover.’ In other words, the meal the disciples shared with Jesus would have taken place before the Passover feast and the sacrifice of the lamb. The Biblical Archaeology Society makes a solid argument for John's account, while the Apologetics Press maintains that the Last Supper was a Passover feast. … More than 2,000 years later, it's hard to know for sure.”

According to an article titled, “Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder?”, “The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke appear to present Jesus’ Last Supper as a Seder. In John, however, the seven-day Passover festival does not begin until after Jesus is crucified.”

We will probably never know whether the Last Supper was a Seder or not, and there is also some debate on whether there was an actual sacrificial lamb at the Last Supper. What is clear is that Jesus foretold his sacrifice as the Lamb of God. According to an article from Crossway, “The reason that there is no lamb in the Lord’s Supper is that Jesus Christ himself is the Passover Lamb of God. … The yearly Passover lambs all pointed to and found their meaning in the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. He dies on the cross as the Passover Lamb of God.”

Today, Jews no longer sacrifice a lamb for their Seder, as that practice was ended when the temple was destroyed. Instead, they have a lamb shank bone on the Seder plate as a reminder of the Paschal Lamb, the lamb sacrificed at the first Passover on the eve of the Exodus from Egypt.

It is impossible to ignore the imagery of the lamb being slain during Passover and Jesus being the symbolic lamb who was slain, dying so our sins are forgiven.

Shari Van Baale
Salem Communications Coordinator

Tags: Weekly Word