|“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”|
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”Matthew 26:26-29
|Jesus here establishes a continuation of the Passover Feast, originally instituted by Moses, as the nation of Israel was about to leave Egypt. We call it today, Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. Jesus replaced the Old Covenant sacrifice of an unblemished lamb with Himself, the Lamb of God. Passover, a spring festival, was under the old covenant, one of the seven feasts of the nation of Israel. Easter, is also a spring celebration, which continues that newer and better covenant in Jesus’ blood. |
Easter and Passover both have its roots in Scripture and history. Passover was instituted as a shadow and type of what Jesus would eventually do at the cross, and the celebration of Easter is its spiritual fulfillment.
Passover dating was based on a lunar calendar cycle, with specific rules of determining the first day of the first religious month for the Jewish nation. Easter is based on a solar calendar, determined by the early church fathers, to properly honor Jesus the Messiah.
“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, ” Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.'” Matthew 28:1-6
Notice that Scripture is specific saying, “the first day of the week”. The first day of the week on our calendar is Sunday. This is an important observation for all Christians. Sunday was called the Lord’s Day, first by the early church fathers, since Jesus was resurrected on that day. In fact, only recently has the modern church lost that phrase in its common language, but Sunday is still the Lord’s Day.
Many early church fathers were witnesses to the original disciples of our Lord or were directly taught by those who personally knew and lived with one of them. Men such as Ignatius 35-107AD, Irenaeus 130-200AD, Eusebius 260-340 AD, and many others that we have, are excellent examples. The early church began to set Sunday as the day of Christian worship. The early church father Justin Martin (110-165 AD) wrote a letter to the emperor Marcus Aurelius in 161 A.D., explaining the typical Christian service;
“On the day called Sunday, there is a gathering together in the same place…the memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read…a discourse admonishes and urges the imitation of these good things…we all rise together and send up prayers…bread is presented and wine and water…the people sing out their assent, saying the ‘Amen'”. (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, book 5.23,24,25)
This constitutes a commonplace Sunday Christian service even to this time, some 2,000 years later! Since Sunday was established as the day of typical worship, Easter then, would also fall on Sunday once a year.
The Easter season was originally called the Paschal season, and the English word Easter is derived from that. In foreign countries, most Christians in their own languages still use a form of that word that sounds very much alike. Early church father Irenaeus (130-200 AD), the writer of the well known book, “Against Heresies”, also helped the world-wide church get unified. As Eusebius stated concerning Irenaeus and his work,
“He maintained the duty of celebrating the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord only on the day of the Lord…” And, “Being in this way a peacemaker, exhorted…such matters as these for the peace of the churches.”
The general leadership throughout all the early churches established, that this yearly Passover celebration should be on the same day world wide, as determined by the solar calendar. They said, “So that we celebrate the holy season with one mind and at one time.”
The word Easter in English has a genuinely religious history as well, as explained in Eusebius pp 437;
“Our English word Passover, happily, in sound and sense, almost corresponds to the Hebrew pesach, of which it is a translation. The Greek pascha, formed from the Hebrew, is the name of the Jewish festival, applied invariably in the primitive church to the festival of the Lord’s resurrection… Our word Easter is of Saxon origin, and of precisely the same import with its German cognate Ostern. The latter is derived from the old Teutonic form of auferstehn…i.e., resurrection. The name Easter, as expressive of meaning, is undoubtedly preferable to pascha or Passover, but the latter was the primitive name.”
The early church also being at first predominantly Jewish, celebrated the festival with food as Jesus would have done, today known as the Seder. This Seder was ordained by God through Moses, and the foods included lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread, a roasted egg, water and wine, and other things.
Children are often encouraged in this meal to hide the Afikomen, the matza, at some point during the meal, for it to be discovered later and ransomed back by the head of the table. We celebrate communion today, with an unleavened wafer and juice or wine, as part of our continuing the instruction from Scripture in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26,
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
You can see here the history of our modern Easter. It has been the high day in Christianity since the early church. There are many things said concerning Easter every year, some of it, sadly, is unfounded. The word Easter is not from a pagan deity, the date was set on a new and unique day that Jesus deserves as His own, and food was and is, a common part of the Easter celebration. Even a roasted egg was part of this from the days of early Israel! My encouragement to you was written by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:7-8,
“Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and let not oil be lacking on your head.”
Pastor David Gonzalez
P.S., Please join us with your presence on this most High and Holy Day, this Easter Sunday! I hope to see you there!
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