Explaining away the childlike symbols, like Easter bunnies and eggs, which have come to be associated with Easter, often leaves everybody confused. However, much like St. Patrick wisely used a common, familiar clover to explain to non-believers about the trinity, Easter is a pivotal season to explain our faith.
Perhaps a much better descriptive word for Easter is “Resurrection Day,” because like many Catholic church-redeemed secular holidays, the name of “Easter” is sometimes dated back to be associated with pagan practices. It makes a whole lot more sense to start with the Jewish feast of Passover, where it all began.
The New Testament describes that it was at a Passover dinner that Jesus announced to his disciples that the prophecy had been fulfilled. He took the cup, the third cup that represents redemption, and then left to go to the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed and prepared for His crucifixion.
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. —Jeremiah 31:31-32
I was raised in a Christian home where we celebrated Easter, but when I was in college, I attended my first Seder Passover meal that would forever change the way I viewed the holiday. I was curious to understand how the traditional celebration of the resurrection of Christ related to Judeo-Christian history.
The Seder I attended was not just any Seder. It was one that was hosted by Jews for Jesus, a Messianic Jewish organization which seeks to connect Jewish history with what they believe to be the fulfillment of prophecy found in Jesus, Yeshua or Yahweh. David Brickner, from Jews for Jesus, provides a complete explanation in the Christ in the Passover representational Seder meal to congregations and is much like the one I attended.
Passover started in Egypt, with Pharaoh refusing to let God’s people go to be free from slavery. To convince Pharaoh, God sent 10 plagues. The tenth, and final, plague was a death angel which came to kill the firstborn son of every household that did not have the blood of a sacrificial lamb on its doorposts. If the death angel saw the blood of the lamb, the angel passed over that house. It was after this plague that Pharaoh released the Israelites into freedom from bondage. God instructed them to then celebrate Passover every year.
This day shall be to you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to Yahweh. —Exodus 12:14
The Passover, Seder meal, includes:
- Ceremonial eating bitter herbs
- Parsley, representing life
- Sweet apple mixture, representing the mortar for the bricks during their time in slavery
- Bread without yeast, or matzah.
The Apostle Paul connects the yeast to sin, so matzah is a symbol of purity and righteousness.
Purge out the old yeast…For indeed Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed in our place. —I Corinthians 5:7
The night before Jesus went to the cross, the Bible records that he was taking part in a Passover meal.
…the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was berayed took bread. When he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me” In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me.” —1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Though, perhaps the closest traditional piece that has carried over into the Christian celebration of Easter is the hiding and finding of the matzah bread. At Passover, the children find the hidden Matzah tosh, which is a bag of unleavened bread. One piece is wrapped in a linen cloth bag called the afikomen, which means, “Who is to come”. It is taken outside of the room of celebration and hidden, symbolic to burying, and then brought back when a child finds it, just as Christ arose and was brought back to life.
Let’s Talk About It Together:
Please share your experiences with explaining Easter, and gaining understanding of Passover.