Easter date varies with timing of Jewish Passover

We celebrate a lot of holidays and other special occasions. Most, like birthdays, are celebrated on the same date each year because we know that’s the date on which the event occurred. Christmas is an exception to that. We don’t actually know the date of Jesus’ birth, or even the year, but we know it happened. So someone long ago picked a date as their best guess and enough people agreed that it stuck. Some holidays are officially celebrated on a specific day as a matter of convenience to businesses and employees even though it’s not the actual date of the initial event. Presidents Day (actually George Washington’s birthday) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day are among the so-called “Monday holidays” that allow for three-day weekends.

Easter (Resurrection Sunday) is this coming Sunday. While it’s always celebrated on a Sunday, the first day of the week, because Jesus arose on a Sunday, this holiday bounces all over a two-month span of the calendar because it’s connected with Passover, the Jewish festival that was being celebrated when Jesus was crucified (Matthew chapters 26 to 28; Mark chapters 14-16; Luke chapters 22 to 24; John chapters 12 to 20).

Passover was instituted by God for the Israelites to commemorate their release from Egyptian bondage and the way in which God brought about that freedom by killing the firstborn of every Egyptian household while passing over Israelite homes that were properly marked with lamb’s blood (Exodus 12:1-51).

Although the Jewish calendar is fairly complicated for those of us who are familiar with the Gregorian Calendar, it is based on 24-hour days, 7-day weeks, lunar months, and solar years. And, while some adjustments were built in every three years or so (the Gregorian Calendar is adjusted every leap year), the Jews have been fairly meticulous to keep track of their calendar because they knew God wanted things done at the right time and in the right way in regard to their festivals (Leviticus 23:1-8; 1 Corinthians 14:40, 33). Consequently, because Jesus’ crucifixion took place during the Passover celebration, I am confident that the annual celebration of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Easter) is probably accurately placed on the calendar each year.

That being said, Jesus’ death brought about a change in the law leading the church to meet every first day of the week (Sunday; the day of Jesus’ resurrection) in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice by participating in the Lord’s Supper (Hebrews 9:11-22; Acts 20:6-7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 11:17-26). The example in Acts is of a weekly celebration rather than a quarterly or annual celebration. In the Lord’s Supper, Christians commemorate Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as the means God used to release from bondage to sin those who’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb (John 1:29; Hebrews 10:19-25; Ephesians 5:25-27; Titus 3:3-7; John 8:31-36; Romans 6:16-18, 3-7). Because we’re cleansed in Jesus’ blood, God passes over punishing us for our sins.

Have you been washed in the blood?

 

Leonard Lauriault is a member of the Church of Christ in Logan. Contact him at lmlaur@plateautel.net

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