Tonight begins Passover, probably the most significant Jewish feast in the Bible. It’s immediately followed by the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread. Most Christians don’t celebrate these feasts, as they’re considered Jewish holidays, not Christian ones. And that’s fine. While God told Moses,
This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:14),
Paul’s letter to the Colossians states,
Don’t let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Don’t let them say that you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival. These things are only a shadow of what was to come. But Christ is real! (Colossians 2:16-17)
So no, we don’t have to celebrate Passover. Yet, God’s purpose in instituting it has never changed. How is it a “shadow of what was to come”? Perhaps we need to take a closer look. We can learn a lot from a shadow.
The Bible talks about times and seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 spells it out—“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven… “ (I’m old enough to remember the Byrd’s cover of Pete Seeger’s song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which was a number one hit in 1965.) Furthermore, God tells us that it’s important to understand the time we live in. The book of Esther calls the men who understood the times “wise” (see Esther 1:13).
How do we understand the times?
Passover begins this evening. It seems especially significant that this year, Passover begins on Good Friday. After all, they both celebrate the same thing.
The very idea that Passover is still celebrated now, in 2018, amazes me. Over thousands of years (with minor exceptions, such as during the years leading up to King Josiah), the Jews have celebrated the Passover. Whether in Israel and Judea, or even when spread to the corners of the earth, they’ve faithfully reenacted God’s sacrifice and salvation year after year after year.
Today is Good Friday, when the church marks the crucifixion of Jesus. Two days later we celebrate Easter1, Resurrection Sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead. Yet, scripture clearly states that Jesus would rise on the third day.