For the past three Passion Weeks (2016-2018) I have posted here in the blog my study about the "10 Days that Changed the World", a series of posts concerning the events of Jesus' last week before His crucifixion, burial and resurrection three days later. I didn't re-post them again this year, or on Facebook because, with the hundreds of views they have received (mostly from Facebook users), I figured I had about worn that horse out. On the off-chance though, dear reader, you have not read them, I would recommend you do so before delving into this post, one which will be to some highly controversial. You can find the first post here: https://resplendentdaughter.blogspot.com/2018/03/10-days-that-changed-world-passion-week.html
And, then, just read the next one in the line-up, through the end of March, ending with the post called "First Fruits".
Okay, on to today's topic.
In the aforementioned posts, I essentially made a case for how Jesus Christ fulfilled the Passover Feast of the Jews in His last days on earth. Likewise, He fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits, all of which are slammed together adjacent to one another, forming what is commonly referred to as the first three of "The Spring Feasts". (The fourth is Shavuot, what Christians celebrate as Pentecost.) Jesus was a Jew, after all, and a perfectly devout One to boot. It is important to remember that.
This year, 2019, today is Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar, the day the Passover Lamb would have been slain by the High Priest in Jerusalem's Temple, the day the Lamb of God was crucified on the cross for our sins. It happened around 3:00 in the afternoon in those days and, were there a Temple in Jerusalem today with priestly animal sacrifices ongoing, it would be happening right about now as I type this post, because beloved Israel is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.
Tonight, Jews around the world will eat the Passover Seder, celebrating their deliverance from Egyptian slavery, with many putting the twist on their reminiscences of the more recent Holocaust, when Jews were enslaved and many exterminated by the Nazis. Many Messianic Christians, those who marry the Jewish feast celebrations with the finished work of Jesus Christ, will celebrate a Messianic Seder tonight, but in addition to how the more traditional Jews celebrate, their added emphasis will be on how Messiah Jesus fulfilled Passover by setting them free from the slavery of sin and eternal death. Hallelujah to His name!
Today, Nisan 14 and what most Christians around the world call Good Friday happen to fall on the same day. That is what I mean by the title of this post.
In the early Church of Jesus Christ, all of the members were Jews, the first "Jews for Jesus", if you will. The earliest Christians (they were not called Christians until late in the first century A.D., in the town of Antioch - - Acts 11:20-21) celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, beginning on Nisan 14, whenever that fell on the other world calendars in use at that time. In other words, they began their "Easter" celebration, more appropriately called their resurrection celebration, on the day Jesus was crucified. IN OTHER WORDS, the first resurrection "anniversaries" aligned with the Jewish feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits, because that is in line with how things went in the New Testament.
Unfortunately, as years went on, there began to be division about when to celebrate the Lord's resurrection. Satan got to work and planted in the minds of influential church leaders that the "new Christian religion" should separate itself from those awful Jews . . . you know, the ones who killed the Lord Jesus? That hellish attitude still persists in some circles today. It was especially heretical in those early years, to drive a wedge between God's chosen people, the Jews, and the Jewish and Gentile Christians. Once the wedge was in place, the rift just continued to widen.
None other luminary that the apostle John advocated for celebrating the resurrection, on Nisan 14.1 Others of that era chose to celebrate the resurrection on the Sunday following Passover, since it is incontrovertible that Jesus arose from the grave early on a Sunday morning. However, here is the problem with that, (other than the obvious divergence of opinions.) Passover does not always begin at the conclusion of Nisan 14, going into Nisan 15, a Thursday going into a Friday, as it did the year Jesus died. What about those years Nisan 14-15 fell on a Monday-Tuesday, for example? Well, three days later would be, what? A Friday? You can see the obvious problems. If, in that fictitious year, the resurrection were celebrated "three days later", you would be celebrating on a Friday, not a Sunday. AND, if you waited until the Sunday after Passover, Jesus would have been left in the tomb too long.
What to do?
By the time of the Council of Nicea, in 325 A.D., you had Christians celebrating the resurrection "all over the place", at various times, which the Council felt was unseemly. It is sad that, instead of establishing the date in congruence with the lunar Jewish calendar, the way it originally occurred, the Council decided to establish it on the Roman calendar, a solar calendar, always during the Spring Equinox. For some reason they felt that "the consistency", not to mention the distancing of Christianity from Jewry, was more important. So, the Council arbitrarily chose a date, decreeing all Christian churches would celebrate the resurrection of the Lord on the first Sunday following the full moon after the vernal equinox.
While this date certainly brought a unanimity to the resurrection celebration, which later began to be called "Easter", it certainly did not bring with it accuracy. In my opinion, it is merely another example of theological "drift" or as I've heard it called "slippage in the system". As the Church of Jesus Christ has moved on into history, getting ever farther, necessarily, from the faith's "point of origin" in 3 B.C. through 30 A.D., more and more dreck or "tradition" or outright error have crept in.
Where did the term "Easter" come from, anyway? That's another blog post, and I'm not going to get into that here. How did we get to Friday being the designated day of the week for the crucifixion? No way you can get "three days in the belly of the earth" (Jesus' words in Matthew 12:40) from Friday to Sunday.... Why are bunnies and eggs and so forth now part of the cultural celebration, although, thankfully, not yet the theological....? Drift. Dreck. Etc. Some would call it outright heresy....
This Sunday, two days from now, I will go to church with my husband, and we will both lift our hands in praise and celebration, to honor our Lord and King, and to celebrate His finished work for us. We will do this in our Baptist church, which celebrates Jesus' resurrection on "Easter Sunday". But, learning about the lost alignment between the Jewish feasts and the Lord's Passion has both enriched my joy during this holy season, while simultaneously making me wistfully sad. The Passion season always speaks more deeply to me when Passover and the Christian resurrection celebration align. Kiss-Kiss!
Today, for example, I am meditating on how, on Nisan 14, 3790 (today is Nisan 14, 5779), He died for me, in the Gregorian calendar year 30 A.D. 2 That year, Nisan 14 was a Thursday. His body lay in the tomb three nights and 2 full days plus a partial day, while His spirit descended into Sheol and did His liberating work there. Then, early on Sunday morning, Nisan 17, His body was resurrected into a glorious "heavenly" physical form and reunited with His Spirit, after which He walked the earth and did many miracles for 40 more days, until His Ascension into Heaven.
Nisan 17, the resurrection day, the day of the Feast of First Fruits, falls on a Monday this year. 🤷♀️
But, you know, the most important thing is that we don't let these types of Bible nerd explorations take away from our celebrating the Lord's Resurrection. Becoming overly divisive does not bring glory to God, and it takes away from the central truth more worthy of celebration than any other. And that is this:
1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, and in which you stand firm. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,5and that He appeared to Cephasa and then to the Twelve. 6After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one of untimely birth.
1 Corinthians 15:1-8 (Berean Study Bible)
Happy Passover! Happy Resurrection Day!