Last year, Easter was just a month after Michael's passing. I was in the fog of grief, and although I attended church and brunch with family, I was just going through the motions. The first few celebratory occasions in the grief cycle are so hard. Nothing matters but the grief that has swallowed you up and the absence of your beloved. You are befuddled that life can go on as it does when your world has been devastated. Praise God that doesn't last! I've chosen to keep moving forward, trusting my Lord, and looking ahead to the day when I am reunited with Michael, and we get to spend Eternity together. Hallelujah!
This year, although I'm not planning on attending services (just not physically up for it with all my pregnancy issues), I've spent a lot of time this week reflecting on its significance. I'm so grateful for what Jesus did for me when he submitted himself to the cross. It's His blood that covers my sin and makes me righteous in the sight of God the Father. Without that, I don't have access to God because He's so holy, and I'm just not. Throughout human history God the Father has required a blood sacrifice as a sin offering. That seems so bizarre to our modern sensibilities, but He's God and His ways are not our ways.
I've learned so much in the last year about Easter that I never did before. For example, did you know that everything Jesus went through from Palm Sunday leading up to Resurrection Sunday corresponds with something from Passover? From one of my favorite Bible teachers, Jack Kelley at GraceThruFaith:
I am just in awe of all the Old Testament and New Testament connections, and how perfectly Jesus fulfilled the prophesies. I feel like I've uncovered layers and layers of meaning to this incredible event, but I know it's not me. It's the work of the Holy Spirit in me opening my spiritual eyes to the truth of the Word.
In the first chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus was introduced as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Throughout His ministry people proclaimed Him as Israel’s Messiah, but only on one day did He encourage it. On the Jewish calendar, it was the 10th day of the first month. We know it as Palm Sunday. Through out Jerusalem Passover lambs were being selected, but on the Mount of Olives The Passover Lamb was being welcomed into the city with shouts of “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 21:9)
From then until the end of the 13th He received the most aggressively intense questioning of His ministry. He was being carefully scrutinized for some defect in His teaching until finally “no one dared ask Him any more questions.” (Matt 23:46)
After sundown brought the Passover, called Preparation Day in His time, he ate an abbreviated Passover meal with His disciples, stopping at the 3rd cup, the Cup of Redemption. It was a Thursday, the 14th of the month, and before the day was over He had been arrested, tried, convicted and executed by crucifixion. The Passover Lamb had been put to death on Passover. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed, Paul would later say (1 Cor. 5:7).
Just before He died, knowing that all had been completed and so the Scriptures would be fulfilled, He asked for a drink. (John 19:28-29) In taking the wine they offered, He drank the 4th Cup of the Passover, the Cup of Acceptance. “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.” From that day forward, anyone Who accepted His death as payment for their sins would in turn be accepted into the family of God and receive eternal life. They are saved by faith through the Blood of the Lamb.
Earlier a group of Jewish officials had asked Jesus for a miraculous sign to prove that He was who He claimed to be. He said, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:39-40). They would get their sign but only after they had put Him to death. And it would be unmistakable. No one had ever come out of the grave in a resurrection body before.
The day following the crucifixion would Friday the 15th, the first Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a special Sabbath where no work could be done (John 19:31). Knowing this, the chief priests asked Pilate to hasten the deaths of the condemned men so they could get them off their crosses before sundown. But Jesus was already dead. He had died at three o’clock and though His body was still on the cross, His spirit was already in Sheol, the abode of the dead. Day one.
At sundown it became Friday the 15th, and with it Night One, followed in the morning by Day Two. Saturday the 16th was the regular weekly Sabbath and again no work could be done. It began with Night Two and in the morning became Day Three. Then at sundown it was Sunday the 17th, Night Three. Three days and three nights, just as He had prophesied.
At sunrise Sunday morning the 17th, the Feast of First Fruits was being observed at the Temple when the women came to the tomb where He’d been laid to rest (Matt. 28:1). It was their first chance to anoint the body for burial since both Friday and Saturday had been Sabbaths. But the tomb was empty. He had risen, the First Fruits of the First Resurrection.
And beyond the connections to Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, the Holy Spirit was then poured out on His followers exactly on Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, which was a wave offering of two loaves of leavened bread. I'm doing a study of Acts with my dear friend Kristina, and we observed in this week's study how during the Passover Week unleavened bread (without yeast) was used. But come Pentecost it's leavened bread (bread made with yeast). We discussed how this represents the fullness of what Christ accomplished, and how we are full with the Spirit.
Anyway, I'm no Bible scholar or apologetic. There's probably a much better way to explain those connections and prophetic fulfillments. I've just learned so much this year that has deepened my understanding of God's Word, and it's been really exciting for me. What's most exciting is that when Jesus comes again he will fulfill the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles which are the Jewish feast days in the fall. In that day, the Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled as the Jews are regathered in preparation for the final day of atonement, they will repent and look to their Messiah (Jesus) on the Day of Atonement, and for the Feast of Tabernacles He will be with them. He will dwell with His people, the church and the Jews, forevermore. What a beautiful picture and promise!
So as cute as the Easter Bunny may be (personally, I think the ones in the malls are pretty creepy looking), and as much fun as it is to watch the kids in their Easter best hunt for eggs, those things just pale in comparison for me as I consider the incredible and miraculous things Jesus has done and will do in the near future to redeem His people.
The first time he came as a sacrificial lamb, but when he returns it will be as the Lion of Judah - King of Kings. What a wonderful Savior!