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Celebrate Easter or Passover?

Updated on April 22, 2011

"Remember this day, on which you went free from Egypt, the house of bondage, how Adonai freed you from it with a mighty hand…." Exodus 13:3

As Christians we look forward to and celebrate Easter every year as the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead and victory over sin and death. His sacrifice on the cross is what brought us freedom from bondage and release from captivity. That captivity and bondage is our slavery to sin and death apart from Jesus. Jesus broke the chains that bind us. His light and truth release us from darkness.

So, what was Passover and why was it celebrated? Passover was the festival that God instituted in order to commemorate the Israelite's deliverance by the hand of God from Pharoah (the taskmaster) and Egypt (the land of slavery). The literal circumstances of the Israelites foreshadowed and paved the way for the spiritual freedom that was brought by Jesus. It is no strange coincidence that the Passover was celebrated by Jesus Himself the very evening before His crucifixion. Jesus told His disciples that very night that He IS the passover lamb who was going to die in order to provide freedom from slavery. In Jewish tradition the day begins at sundown the evening before and continues to sundown the next day. Passover was the very day that Jesus gave His life for us. It began the evening prior when He sat with His disciples in an upper room and broke bread, saying, "Take and eat, this is my body," and passed the cup of wine, saying, "this is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."1 Jesus was proclaiming the ultimate fulfillment that His death and resurrection would bring to the feast of Passover. Sometimes, for Christians Jesus' use of language here, drinking blood and eating the body, sounds foreign and we wonder why He would use this imagery. For Jews, however, it served to fulfill all that had been revealed by God to them as His chosen people up to that point. They knew that this very night of Passover was when a lamb was slaughtered in order for them to be saved and delivered from Egypt. Jesus was explaining that He is the lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world. The purpose of every animal sacrifice made to God under the law was solely to be a pointer to and indicator of the Messiah, Jesus.

Jesus' death was the final, culminating focus of every Passover that had been celebrated up until that point. On the very first Passover the Jews were instructed to take a lamb on the tenth day of the first month, a year old male without defect, take care of it for four days, slaughter it on the 14th day, and paint the blood over the top and sides of the doorframe. It was by this blood that the Jews were protected and "passed over by death" from the plague sent upon the firstborn of Egypt. This plague was the last and final plague that led to the release from captivity of the Israelites by Pharoah.

Like the Passover lamb, Christ was one man, without defect (the only one in human history to be spotless and blameless) who was killed and whose blood provided victory over death and freedom from slavery to the enemy, the devil, the taskmaster. So, Exodus 13:3 above can be read in a new light when we view it through God's ultimate plan of redemption. To "Egypt" (the literal land of Israel's slavery) we add "sin and death" (which we are spiritually enslaved to) and to "the house of bondage" (where Pharoah kept the Jews in slavery) we add the "devil" or "enemy" our spiritual captor and taskmaster until we choose Jesus as Lord:

"Remember this day, on which you went free from [sin and death], the house of bondage [the enemy or devil], how Adonai freed you from it with a mighty hand…."

As Christians, this brings a fuller meaning to the cross of Christ and to the Word of God as a whole. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:17, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." His life, death, resurrection and second coming are (or, in the case of the Second Coming will one day be) the direct fulfillment of every feast instituted by God in the Old Testament (the Law and the Prophets.) Why wouldn't we celebrate the fulfillment of God's plan?

1. Matthew 26:26-29


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    • sherrylou57 profile image


      8 years ago from Riverside

      Amen, come on and celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. He is Risen!!

    • christicue profile imageAUTHOR

      Christi C. 

      8 years ago from Franklin, TN

      @annaw: Thank you!

      @FriendofTruth: Thank you! I agree, there's so much there in the fullness of God's Word. I pray with you that many more believers will begin to desire to understand the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge in all God has for them. I loved that resource too and thought it was great!

      @tamarajo: I agree completely. This seems to be a hot button with many Christians. It's not like we have to celebrate one or the other, but what we do celebrate feels very lacking or maybe the proper term is polluted. There's so much truth to be found and revealed in the Passover celebration and the reasons for it. I just wish there was a way to "purify" our traditions and purge them of all that it is not in addition to bringing in the symbolic and prophetic from the Old Testament in order to show how Jesus was the fulfillment of the spring feasts.

      @Dave Mathews: I agree completely. It was hard to know how to phrase the title because it is both that we should be shouldn't be a fight over one or the other or a right and wrong issue. Each of them have important components that when combined become the celebration that it should be. I didn't know that about Palm Sunday, that's interesting and makes sense. I think it's frustrating that there seems to be such an overall lack of understanding in the Christian population in general as to what we are celebrating on Easter and why. I feel like we're missing out on the fullness of all that God intended for us.

      @Judah's Daughter: Yes, thank you for adding that and thank you for stopping by!

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 

      8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      It was the custom that the 'Passover' lamb, after being sacrificed, was to be eaten at the Passover meal. The Passover meal, even today, includes lamb. This is why Jesus said to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood...and we do this in remembrance of Him until He comes again.

      Beautiful hub.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 

      8 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      What a strange question to be asking. "Celebrate Easter or Passover?" The answer is so simple. Celebrate both.

      Like it or not we are all decendant of Adam and Eve. We are also decendant from Noah and the Jewish lineage. This makes us Hebrew by "Bith-rite" as was Jesus and all who followed Him.

      As a converted Christian which we all are, we should celebrate both. Palm Sunday which Christians recognize, was at one time known as Passover. It is only over the past 50 years or so we changed the name.

      Easter we celebrate obviously as Christians as the Day of Christ's resurrection from the grave, and the day of our Christian salvation from sin and death.

    • Tamarajo profile image


      8 years ago

      after studying these things out myself I wonder why we (the church) don't devote more attention to the passover beings the crucifixion and all that Christ did in that event is explained and remembered more profoundly in symbols of this feast more specifically than the cultural traditional celebration of easter.

      It bothers me sometimes how we tend to do things based on cultural tradition never questioning why rather than following the biblical formats that were intended to communicate salvation. I don't exclude myself from the equation. I have not yet figured out how to make the waves in a way that is invitational rather than seemingly rebellious.

      I despise the pagan origins of the our modern celebrations and would like to make a transition at some point not in them as religious requirements but to always remain mindful of the biblical truth and not mans customs.

    • FriendofTruth profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Great! Also great resource that you added on Easter vs. Passover. It is such a blessing that more brothers and sisters are starting to research the Feasts of the LORD vs. the pagan customs that we all have been used to observing. Hopefully more and more will come to know the truth and to all that the LORD has for us.

    • annaw profile image


      8 years ago from North Texas

      Very timely and well written. Thank you


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