Among the names of Jesus I’ve learnt over the years, I’ve know Him as “the Passover Lamb” from the very beginning. It’s biblical, as First Corinthians 5:7 says, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
Yes, Jesus was sacrificed as our Passover Lamb. Further, He was sacrificed at Passover, not Easter – a shock though that may be to some Christians. The “Last Supper” of which all Christians are aware was the Passover Seder, the Jewish ritual feast which marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Generally speaking, Christians by and large don’t celebrate Passover any longer, but this is changing. The first century Christians did celebrate Passover, in fact they celebrated all the Jewish feasts, but not because they were Jewish feasts, but because they were and still are, God’s feasts. God says so: He says in Leviticus 23:4 “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them…”
These Feasts of the Lord which the early Church of Christ celebrated in unity with Judaism were the Passover; the feast of Unleavened Bread, the First Fruits of harvest, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. In the 1,687 years since the abolition of Christianity’s link with Passover, practically no Christians can name any of the Feasts of the Lord, these Feasts of the early Church for which our spiritual ancestors were martyred.
Why was the Passover taken from the Church and a pagan Easter substituted? Quite simply, the new Christian and Roman Emperor Constantine wanted to merge Christianity with the pagans of his time to grow the church numbers. While he did not have a problems with Christians celebrating the death of Jesus – which Easter now does – he was opposed to them celebrating His death at Passover, and the links to Judaism which pertain thereto. Thus at the Council of Nicea (AD 235) Constantine apparently declared words to the effect that “this irregularity (observing Passover) must be corrected!” and he won the day. This set in place a detour in the path of Church development which was reinforced over the years, unto eventually the Church began to forget it Hebraic roots as the following decrees were issued:
In AD 345 The Council of Antioch: “If any bishop, presbyter or deacon will dare, after this decree, to celebrate Passover, the council judges them to be an anathema from the church. This council not only deposes them from ministry, but also any others who dare to communicate with them.” (Anathema means “cursed.”)
In AD 365 The Council of Loadicea: “It is not permitted to receive any festivals which are by the Jews.”
In AD 506 The Council of Agde: “Christians must not take part in Jewish festivals.”
In AD 656 The Tenth Council of Toledo “Easter must be celebrated at the time set by the decree of Nicea.”
As may be inferred from the constant revisiting of the issue, many Christians from the third to the sixth century kept aligned with the first century Church and persisted in celebrating Passover, and for their convictions, tens of thousands were martyred for that which the Catholic Church damned as a heresy. It is said that whole cities and communities were slaughtered en mass as the Church and governments came together in this single cause. Further, as I understand, the curses established by the AD 345 The Council of Antioch have still not been rescinded and are still in effect. Any Christian celebrating the Passover must therefore break these curses off from themselves, their church and their family.
What lasting effects did the work of Constantine have on the Church?
1) He completely severed the Church from its Hebraic roots and traditions.
2) He broke the full understanding and significance of the bloodline in Christianity. As Christians we may say that “we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb out of the hands of the enemy,” yet most have lost the understanding of the importance of the line of blood, throughout the whole Bible.
3) By linking to paganism and idolatry, he allowed the demonic into the Church which in turn allowed the Church to persecute the Jews and participate in the Holocausts against them, among other things.
Unless Christians are fully aware of the Biblical and Christian significance of the Passover, we are losing a whole lot of the larger picture of the work of God the Father and of Jesus, the Son, the perfect and blemish free Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for us. The Passover is not just about the Jews and Christianity’s Hebraic traditions (lost or not), it is all about Jesus and the New Covenant which was cut by His blood.
Jesus, as the Passover Lamb of the New Covenant, fulfilled all the condition of the Passover lambs of the Old Covenant:
- By tradition in the days of Jesus, temple Passover lambs could only come from one place, Bethlehem. Jesus came from Bethlehem.
- Jesus entered Jerusalem via the sheep gate from the Mount of Olives on the tenth day of the first month as crowds who recognised the significance of all of this cried “Hosanna!” which means save us, and shouting “Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! Save us Son of David!” In this they publically acknowledged Jesus as The Passover Lamb.
- The Passover lamb was examined for marks and blemishes, to ensure it was spotless as a worthy sacrifice. Jesus was examined by the powers of the temple and the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees, the Herodians and all the teachers of the Law, and no fault could be found in Him.
- At Passover time, all houses are cleaned top to bottom, inside and out, and no leaven or impurity is left in them. Jesus cleaned out the moneychangers from His father’s house.
- After public display at the altar, on the fourteenth day of the first month, the Passover lamb is led to the alter and bound there at nine o’clock. At nine o’clock on the fourteenth day of the first month, after being on public display, Jesus was led to Calvary, nailed onto a cross and crucified and put on public display.
- At three o’clock in the afternoon, the Passover lamb was slain as the high Priest slit its throat and drained its blood. At three in the afternoon, Jesus, our Passover Lamb cried out “It is finished” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
What was finished?
Matthew Henry says:
“It is finished; that is, the counsels of the Father concerning his sufferings were now fulfilled.
It is finished; all the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings of the Messiah, were accomplished.
It is finished; the ceremonial law is abolished; the substance is now come, and all the shadows are done away.
It is finished; an end is made of transgression by bringing in an everlasting righteousness. His sufferings were now finished, both those of his soul, and those of his body.
It is finished; the work of man’s redemption and salvation is now completed. His life was not taken from him by force, but freely given up.”
John Gill says:
“That is, the whole will of God;
as that he should be incarnate, be exposed to shame and reproach, and suffer much, and die;
the whole work his Father gave him to do, which was to preach the Gospel, work miracles, and obtain eternal salvation for his people, all which were now done, or as good as done; the whole righteousness of the law was fulfilled, an holy nature assumed, perfect obedience yielded to it, and the penalty of death endured; hence a perfect righteousness was finished agreeably to the law, which was magnified and made honourable by it, and redemption from its curse and condemnation secured; sin was made an end of, full atonement and satisfaction for it were given;
complete pardon procured, peace made, and redemption from all iniquity obtained;
all enemies were conquered;
all types, promises, and prophecies were fulfilled, and his own course of life ended: the reason of his saying so was, because all this was near being done, just upon finishing, and was as good as done;
and was sure and certain, and so complete, that nothing need, or could be added to it;
and it was done entirely without the help of man, and cannot be undone;
all which since has more clearly appeared by Christ’s resurrection from the dead, his entrance into heaven, his session at God’s right hand, the declaration of the Gospel, and the application of salvation to particular persons….”
Jesus was and is our Passover Lamb. By His blood we enter into the New Covenant. Brothers and sisters in Christ, I truly believe we as the Church need to know and celebrate The Passover. Despite Constantine and his cronies over the centuries, The Passover is our Christian heritage. We need to acknowledge it and understand it and celebrate it as a love offering to God the Father who in Leviticus told us it was HIS feast.
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