What is Passover? 5 Reasons Christians Should Celebrate Passover
Did you ever celebrate Passover in the Baptist – Methodist – Catholic – Lutheran church?
I didn’t! Not to the extent it was intended in Scripture.
The Passover celebration is traditionally considered a Jewish holiday.
It is not as familiar to many Christians as the history behind it.
However, The story is well-known to many people, even those who aren’t part of the church. Some may have heard the story as a child in Vacation Bible School or a reference to it in a TV show or casual conversation.
But still, some may ask: What is Passover and how can we celebrate it?
The Story of Passover
The story begins with the 10 plagues in Egypt, culminating in the release of the Jewish people from captivity after the night of Passover. We know this well as the story of the exodus.
God’s chosen people had been enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. The Jewish people suffered greatly and cried out to the Lord. He heard them and sent Moses to speak on their behalf. At the end of mass devastation, culminating in the night of Passover, Pharaoh released the Israelites.
What happened to cause a change of heart? All the first-born males in Egypt died. Except those in the Jewish population.
As God often does, though, He commanded His people to participate in the rescue of their children. Their part is what is known as Passover.
What is Passover?
Before the last plague God swept across the plains of Egypt, God instructed each family within the Jewish community to sacrifice an unblemished lamb or goat.
They smeared the blood on their door frames as a sign for the Lord to pass over that house.
The plague of death would not touch the Jewish people.
Instead it “passed over” them.
The Lord commanded the Israelites to celebrate the day He rescued them – creating the ‘Jewish’ holiday. His people have obeyed these instructions for thousands of years by celebrating Passover.
However, this celebration is not a ‘Jewish’ celebration. Instead, it was written to be a Feast of our Lord.
In addition, the Passover serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to all His followers. Thus, it is a Christian celebration!
When Does Passover End?
While the original instance of the Passover occurred on one night, Passover was combined with the Feast of Unleavened Bread and celebrated for seven days. God gave specific instructions for His people to observe rituals of remembrance for a whole week.
The first and last days were set aside for a holy assembly.
These holy days were to be days of rest and preparation.
During the Festival of Unleavened Bread, God directed the Israelites to eliminate all yeast from their homes and cooking for the full seven days.
Why Do Christians Celebrate Passover?
Because of the freedom we have gained through faith in Christ, Passover has not always been maintained within the church. Some believers aren’t familiar with the celebration. Some don’t see taking the time to remember the exodus from Egypt as beneficial. For others, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus overshadows the Old Testament festival. Yet – Jesus is the fulfillment of this celebration and the resurrection is a continuation of the story.
Some Christians believe God has released His people from the obligation of observing Passover referring to the verse Colossians 2:16-17, Yet, this verse has been incorrectly interpreted.
According to this interpretation, Paul is telling the Colossian believers not to let the false teachers, who are unbelievers and not part of the body, judge them for how they are celebrating the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths, but rather leave judgment to those within the body, who are guided by the scriptures, the Word of God, and not by man’s traditions.
This is consistent with other letters where Paul tells the body of Christ to judge in certain matters.
5 Reasons to Celebrate Passover?
Now that you know what Passover is, let us talk about the reasons why you should celebrate it. Here are 5 reasons:
1. It grounds you to your spiritual roots.
The God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Old Testament. Every detail He’s provided us in His Word is for His glory and our good. The stories of the Jewish people are our spiritual roots and we understand more about God when we understand more about how He has worked in the past.
2. Passover is a reminder of the value of scripture.
There are parts of the Bible that are harder to read than others. However, God didn’t include anything arbitrarily. Thus, it helps to take the time to reflect on special events like the story of the exodus. By doing so, it reminds us of the value of all the Word.
3. The feast of Passover connects you to Jesus.
Jesus celebrated Passover. He was a Jewish man according to His human parentage.
Moreover, He lived in the culture of the Jewish population. As you participate in celebrations that Jesus also participated in, this links you to who He was while He walked on earth.
4. It helps us understand the need for sacrifice.
The original Passover required sacrifice.
The Israelite families had to slaughter a lamb or goat to have the blood to spread on the doorways.
The blood bought their lives. The blood of Jesus purchased our lives. He is the final Passover Lamb.
5. It enhances your gratitude.
Can you imagine how grateful the Israelites must have been when the Passover occurred?
God knows that humans are fickle and we have short memories. Thus, His command to commemorate His miraculous salvation every year. Every time we pause to ground our faith and celebrate God’s love, we are reminded of everything He has done for us.
How Can We Celebrate Passover?
There are many specifics in decorations, meals, recipes, and rituals that enhance the celebration of Passover. Too many to cover in this post! Instead, we’re going to cover general ideas that bring the Passover story to life and make the details more meaningful.
1 – Reenact Passover as it’s told in Exodus.
Obviously, your family isn’t going to kill a lamb or goat and spread its blood on your doorway. You can have a stuffed animal present, though. The seder meal is important, too. Other ideas include having everyone be fully dressed, have a walking stick, and dip a sprig of greenery in water and use it to brush your doorway. We gain a clearer understanding of what the Israelites lived through when we take part in the activities. Passover will also become much more memorable.
2 – Recount the story.
Reading the story told in Exodus 12 gives us solid facts to serve as a foundation for the celebration. Reading the account of Jesus’ death makes the connection of Him being the fulfillment of scripture and the acts of God in the Old Testament which were a “shadow of things to come.”
3 – Remember God’s plan for redemption.
Recounting and reenacting the Passover/Exodus story reminds us that God’s delivery of the Jewish community from Egypt was a foreshadowing of His delivery of us from the slavery of sin through Jesus. We tend to be short-sighted and easily forget. God, on the other hand, has had a plan for redeeming His people from before He spoke the world into being.
4 – Read the scripture in context.
When Bible stories are read, they are interpreted based on the information we have. We also understand events based on our culture. When we study scripture not just in the context of other scripture, but also in the context of the setting and Jewish culture in which they took place, the words become more alive. For example, when we think 3 days and 3 nights, we translate that into 72 hours, or close to it. For this reason, Jesus was not crucified on Friday and risen on Sunday morning.
There is no way to count 3 days and 3 nights – just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish. This dating was based on a Friday Sabbath and not the High Holy Day associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread which included 2 High Holy Days. Culture and context will help us see the true timeline and significance.
We can also learn that the Passover celebration took place at twilight. Because of the need for light, Passover coincided with a full moon. This is why both the celebrations of Passover and of Jesus’ Resurrection shift on the Gregorian calendar we use.
5 – Reflect on God’s deliverance of sin.
Prayer is essential to any spiritual celebration. Through prayer, we meditate on God’s abundant grace. It reminds us of what God did for us when He stood in as the final Passover lamb. The people of Israel took part in God’s deliverance, but it wasn’t the act of brushing blood on doorways that saved them. Their salvation came by the grace of God. We, too, have been transferred from death because of sin to life ~ because of His grace.
A Time to Celebrate Passover
While celebrating Passover is not common, joyfully participating will bless us as we worship the Lord and exhibit reverence for His plan. We hope you can make Passover a part of your family’s celebrations during this time of year in a meaningful, faith-boosting way.
This year (2021), Passover begins at sunset on Saturday, March 27 and ends on Sunday evening, April 4.
Celebrating Passover is a wonderful way to prepare for Easter, better known as Resurrection Day. The Lord picked Passover for His sacrifice and overcoming death through His resurrection, and there’s great blessing in celebrating these two events that bridge the Old Covenant to the New.
Lord, we praise You for delivering us from sin through the sacrifice of the final, most perfect, sacrificial Lamb, Jesus. Keep us grounded in Your Word, mercy, grace, and love. Reveal through the scriptures and our celebrations the fullness of Your character and draw us closer to You.