It’s not just the Last Supper was a Passover Seder. Both holidays are about the dead rising to new life.
Easter stalks Passover. They arrive together every spring, like the daffodils and magnolia blossoms. It hard not to see Christianity’s Most important day recapitulates Passover. Both holidays face head on the daunting power of death-and both announce God’s greater power of life.
People who follow Passover get ready to have a festive meal with a traditional liturgy that retells the familiar story of Exodus. Emails and texts along with phone calls begin to sort out who would bring what.
The night before Passover they sing and recite ago old prayers and set out a cup for Elijah, the harbinger of the messianic era. Always ended with the declaration: Next year in Jerusalem.
Just a few days later, the holiest days of the year for Christians are under way. I’m headed to church on Saturday night to celebrate Passover once again.
In Romance languages, the connection between the Jewish and Christian holidays is explicit. The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach. In French Easter is Paques. In Italian it’s Pasquale. In many other languages, the word for Easter is simply a transliteration of the Greek word for Easter, Pascha. English among the exceptions. Our word Easter is German in origin, meaning new life, with is to say
The Word Easter is from the story of Esther in the Bible.
In the New Testament, Passover and Easter are tied together. Jesus enters Jerusalem and gathers his disciples to celebrate the Passover meal, memorized by Christians as the Last Supper. Soon, Jesus is arrested, tried and executed on the cross, dying just before the Jewish Sabbath. Then on Sunday morning, His followers are astounded to find Jesus appearing to them as one alive, not dead.
Some early Christians repeated the sequence exactly, marking Easter on the same day as Passover, regardless of the day of the week. Others adopted a different kind of rigor, insisting that Easter dawn on a Sunday, as it had for Jesus’s disciples. They celebrated Easter on the First Sunday after Passover, as we do as well. The Lunar cycle that sets the date for Passover also determines Easter.
The relation between Passover and Easter run deeper still. Because it keeps repeating the biblical pattern for 1000’s of years. Easter doesn’t just share the same week with Passover. They are about the same thing: In bother, the dead rise to new life.
So many individuals see Easter/Passover just as a week or weekend to go party and have fun, with little reference to why this holiday is here in the first place. Jesus was arrested, tried and executed on the cross, and died for us, to be forgiven and have life abundantly, yet few recognize He is the Passover Lamb.