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.
I was running errands around town, radio blaring, when the Doobie Brothers were interrupted by ad for an insurance company. My favorite station runs this ad a lot; you too may have heard it. It starts with an announcer asking, “What is your dream?” and then you hear different voices answering the question. The answers vary… keeping a roof over his family’s heads, learning to play her dad’s guitar, driving coast-to-coast…. Finally, the announcer promises that whatever our dream is, they can insure it.
I’ve heard this ad dozens of times, and it has always sort of bothered me, in a nagging, not-quite-right sort of way—sort of like noticing a picture frame that isn’t quite level. However, I never put my finger on it until a few days ago, when I had that “aha!” moment. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit prodding me.
As I write this Thursday morning, one of our closest friends is being prepped for transplant surgery. After only eight weeks on a waiting list, the call came that somewhere in Colorado a young man had been critically injured in a car accident. He had signed a donor card and was a good match. What had until now been a theoretical, someday possibility suddenly became, “Let’s go, this is real!”
After talking to the transplant coordinator, our friend’s first reaction was to earnestly pray for the donor and his family. After all, we know from firsthand experience that God can bring to life even the dead, and this man was not dead yet. Our friend was more than willing to wait, should God choose to heal him. But an few hours later came another call—there was no brain function and the doctors were taking the man off life support.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
John 19:1-5 (and I highly recommend
reading the rest of the chapter)
Easter Lilies have come to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus, but for Good Friday, I find the Crown of Thorns to be more appropriate. The pretty red flowers are deceitful. The rest of the plant is a collection of horrors.