Should Christians today celebrate the Passover? It seems that all of the Old Testament celebrations are fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection, esp. the Passover. Luke 24:25-27, and 44-47! Paul also stated that we are not obliged to practice the Old Testament rituals since they are a shadow or a picture of what Christ completed (Col. 2:16-17).
However, recently, there has been a renewed interest in the Passover and its celebration in history. What happened after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus in 32 AD? What did the early apostles and church do with the Passover celebration?
Surprisingly, Apostles John, Philip, and their disciples continued to celebrate the Passover on the exact dates for the duration of their lives. This continued until the time of Emperor Constantine in 300 AD. Constantine outlawed the practice by the churches under the Roman government. The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD agreed to discontinue this celebration on Nissan the 14th to the 21st as the ancient Jews did. It seems then, that the cancellation was not one from a Biblical perspective but from a political bent to disavow the Jews because they crucified the Christ. This gave rise to a movement to hate and repudiate Jews of the following generations. The church began calling Jews “Christ-killers.” The church took a dark turn in many respects and now we have to wonder about the celebration of Passover today.
I am content that Jesus fulfilled the meaning of Passover and that we may not be under compulsion to celebrate it today. But it does not mean that you should not or cannot celebrate it! If anyone wished to celebrate the Passover as their way to remember Christ and see the great truths locked up in this event, why not?! I think the early apostles did just that. After seeing their traditions of over 1400 years realized in what Jesus did on the cross it made it all the more meaningful to them. Remember Luke 24:44-45 and how Jesus opened their minds to be able to see these truths hidden in the Old Testament. It was then that they saw the Passover meal and realized it was symbolic of all that the cross brought to the world. His death is our life, His loss is our gain and His poverty is our wealth. His judgment results in our forgiveness and His rejection… our acceptance! We are spared the wrath of God and are freed from the power of Satan, sin, and the self-centered nature we have inherited from Adam.
This day should certainly receive greater prominence for us because it is a day like no other for every Christ-follower. You will not find a command that says that we are to celebrate the Passover, but it could be something we do in the future as a gesture of love and respect for the great accomplishment of our Passover Lamb. “Behold, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.”
Father, thank You for sending Your Son to die in our place. Words cannot express all we owe to You. As the hymn says, “I scarce can take it in, that on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away our sins. How great Thou art!” In Jesus Name, Amen.