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.
Read: Matt 26:17-75 The rejection of Christ has now begun. Judas has set the place to privately conspire against Christ joining the leaders to arrest and execute Jesus in a setting without resistance by the crowds. Christ takes the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane where they will pray. Jesus spends three hours in prayer preparing for the hour of betrayal. He alone knows what is unfolding. The other disciples are completely unaware. They fail the Lord as they sleep through each requested hour to “watch and pray”. Now 800 soldiers arrive with torches and clubs and weapons. Off they lead Jesus from the quiet evening to an awaiting tribunal. The plan of selfish men who want power is now in full bloom.
In the middle of this surprising hour Peter decides to swing one sword against all odds. Christ stops him and says, “Don’t you know I could call for twelve legions of angels right now and they would come!” 72,000 angels! From the visible perspective it looked like the soldiers were in complete control. But what is Jesus revealing? The unseen world has 72,000 angels surrounding that very place waiting for one small word of permission and down with heaven’s thunder they would descend.
As we follow Christ we may face hours of surprising rejection too. What Peter learned that night was a truth of immense strength. It may be a surprise to me but not to Christ! I may feel helpless and I may look weak. But there is surrounding every saint and child of God an innumerable host of angels. Whatever happens to us only arrives at our doorstep by God’s permission and only stays there by God’s permission. We are never in any situation as truly helpless.
God is asking us to put up our swords and stop whacking at the soldiers or enemies invading our quiet garden. Maybe you have already drawn your sword and swung at a head or two. Maybe you even have drawn blood and at your feet there is a bloody ear. Stop! Listen to the reassuring words of our Great master…all this is to fulfill the Word, the great plan of God! This painful moment is but part of the whole plan. Forgive. Rest. Be willing to be led away into a black and uncertain night. God will not forsake you.
Lord, help me to trust you when the darkness and unknown are all about me. I do believe but help me not to take matters into my own hands but to wait for your timing and plan to unfold.
We have watched the poor conduct and sorrowful rejection of Christ by the leaders of that day. On this day Judas went to these leaders and arranged for the betrayal of Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver, if it was in today’s market it would only be worth about $700. But if we see one silver equal to a day’s wage then it was about 5 weeks of labor or about $5,000. How cheaply Christ was sold. It is a scene we leave with pain.
But today we read of a woman who worships and honors the Christ who had come into the world. She was recognizing the truth of who Jesus really is. What are some of the qualities she shows that are true of all worshippers?
She came to where Jesus was. Here is the willingness to adjust my schedule and life to meet with the Lord. Here is the purpose of worship driving the worshipper…I must see Jesus. Let this be the driving force for every worship service, every time of prayer, and every day we live…I must see Jesus.
She expressed her love in a lavish manner. She has now come to the place where Jesus was sitting. She unashamedly expresses her deep affection and gratitude to the One who had just done great things for her. See John 11. Her heart is so full of love and gratitude she must lavishly express it! She gave a gift that was worth 300 days wages which about a year’s salary to worship Christ. What a contrast from Judas!
She poured out her wealth on Christ. This gift was a year’s salary about $50,000. She was glad to give it all so Christ would be honored. She uses her wealth to express her love. As Rick Warren said, “You can give without loving, but you can not love without giving.” This gift was a major sacrifice, but not for the eager worshipper. It was a gift of gladness, she cheerfully and willingly poured out.
She was criticized by onlookers. Those who were standing on the scene scolded her for wasting this money on Christ. There are always those who miss the entire point of worship. In the name of social concern or the name of practical matters shall we stifle the lavish display of gratitude and love? Those not driven by the need to see Jesus will focus on lesser items.
She was praised by Jesus. Every word is full of blessing that flows from Jesus’ lips. I point out a few. “She has done a good deed to Me!” Oh to hear these words of praise from the Master! Wow! Then He lifts her even higher by saying wherever the gospel is preached she was to be remembered. In all ages, in all places, in all languages, in all other worshippers’ hearts she will hold a special place of honor. She is now the example for us to follow
Lord, make me a worshipper like Mary. Generous, cheerful and lavish in my expressions of love and gratitude. I serve you with gladness as I live today.
Read: Matt 21:12-25:46
Jesus enters the Temple and throws out all that is contrary to the directives that God gave Moses. The leaders of that day had strayed from the original words of the Law and had added their own stuff based on their own agendas. When the King enters His domain, He rightly sets the temple according to what had been instructed in the beginning. His word is Law! “My House” He calls it… “is to be a house of prayer for the nations”. This was God’s intent and design from the start. “Prayer” is the word describing our seeking after God, our passion for God, our pleasure and strength are that found in God. When men came from all over the world they were to find God for whom they were seeking! That purpose had been crowded out by the passion for money, power, and instant success. No longer were the purposes of God accomplished. What must the King do when such is the case? He re-establishes His purpose and overthrows man’s purposes.
When this happened what was the immediate response? “By what authority do you do this? Who are you to dare move our stuff aside?” The question is a clear challenge to Jesus authority and not a question from a searching and sincere heart.
When Christ comes to us He also will begin removing the stuff from our agenda. I encourage you to respond with, “Yes, Lord! Is there anything else we need to remove?” We find ourselves willing and then remorseful that we have so much stuff that hinders Him from ruling our lives. We have truck loads of junk that clutter up His courts where He wants to fill us with joy, and celebration. I say, “Let the trucks come and take away the junk, not to a storage unit but to the dump!” I do not want it temporarily stored but permanently removed.
As we seek Him today, allow Him to remove anything that hinders His rule and leadership. Wherever he starts let Him have the final say. Be so willing that all He needs to do is point and we remove it gladly. The men of Jesus’ day were so unwilling He had to throw the stuff out of the temple. Too bad. Will we need Him to throw our stuff out too? Or can he just point to it and we quickly and gladly get rid of it?
Lord, I am here asking you to search me and show me anything that is unpleasing to you. Whatever you point to I will remove with speed and willingness now and forever.
Daniel recorded a prophecy called “70 weeks”. In that prophecy is the record of rebuilding the temple and the coming of Messiah. The 69 week would be marked by the death of the Messiah. The date of the 1st week starts at 445BC…it then stops at the 69th week in 32AD! The Day of Jesus entering the City was not coincidental but the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Already there were over a hundred of other similar prophecies fulfilled and just as observable as was this day. How much more clearly did it need to be for the nation to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah and this was the moment in history declared by the Prophets?
This entrance was also prophesied that the Messiah would come into Jerusalem on a new foal of a donkey in Zechariah 9:9. This was an obvious fulfillment for all to see. Again the fulfillment was of a public nature for thousands to see and not a hidden isolated event. God declared on this Day before the entire nation that this was His Son whom He was identifying as the King. See Psalm 2!
Christ said He came to fulfill Scripture (Matthew 5:17-18) and He did! The entire mission of Jesus was to finish and fulfill what had been said about Him. He will not disappoint those who trust in His promise. Every promise He has made you will be realized by those who trust Him (2 Corinthians 1:20). Even the smallest stroke of a letter will happen just as He said (Luke 16:17).
Are you reading the over 7000 promises He has given you? Philippians 4:13, Luke 1:37, and 1 Thessalonians 5:24 say you can live the impossible life, i.e. you will achieve what in human terms would be impossible. The strength, the span, the scope of what you can do is much greater than you can imagine. This is not positive thinking, or as one man called “possibility thinking” it is more than that, “impossibility thinking!” But why is that so outlandish to believe? One 5’6” Jew under Romans oppression without titles or wealth, without education or privileges took twelve men all without title or rank and turned the world upside down! What would you dare if you thought it was possible?
Lord, I ask you to broaden my mind and desires to reach higher than I am reaching now. Help me to believe in the strength you promise, the reality that you will do more than I can ask or think!
Who is Jesus? Easter is all about the person and work of Jesus. Below is the calendar of what happened in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry. Below are calendar events of Jesus’ life during passion week:
|Sunday||Jesus Enters Jerusalem honor.|
|Monday||Jesus returns and cleanses the Temple Jesus curses the fig tree.|
|Tuesday||Jesus debates with Religious leaders Jesus prophesies about the destruction of Jerusalem and His 2nd Coming.|
|Wednesday||Jesus is betrayed by Judas. Jesus stays with friends at Bethany.|
|Thursday||Jesus returns to Jerusalem and celebrates the Passover with His disciples. Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus is arrested and led away to be tried by the Leaders. All the Disciples run for their lives.|
|Friday||Trials 1-3 from Midnight to 6:30am. Peter denies Christ. (Religious) Trials 4-6 from 6:30-9am. (Legal) Christ is crucified at 9am-3pm. Christ is buried by 5pm.|
|Saturday||The leaders return to the tomb and seal it with Rome’s power and guard.|
|Sunday||Christ is raised from the dead. Christ meets Mary first. Christ encounters the disciples. Christ walks on the road of Emmaus.|
These are the dates of the religious holidays for the traditional church calendar:
- Ash Wednesday is Feb 17th and starts the period of Lent
- Palm Sunday is March 28th
- Good Friday is April 2nd
- Resurrection Sunday (Easter) in the Western Church is on April 4th
- Ascension Day is April 11th
- Pentecost Sunday is May 23rd
What do these days represent? Here is a brief explanation so that you can understand why these dates are held with certain honor.
Ash Wednesday and Lent- What is it? Why is it?
The highlight of the year for Christians is Easter, the day when our Lord rose from the dead. Lent was set by the early church in the sixth century, during the time of Pope Gregory the Great as a time of 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Resurrection day. Why 40 days? Because, Jesus fasted and was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days. Lent, then, is our time of fasting, prayer, overcoming temptation and repentance. Today in the Western church, Lent starts six and a half weeks before Resurrection day. This provides a full 40 days without including Sundays. In the Eastern Church Lent begins 8 weeks before Resurrection day. This is because the Eastern Church excludes Saturday and Sunday from the fasting of 40-day period of Lent.
Lent is not required anywhere in the scriptures, but it has been a custom. In many languages, the word “Lent” actually means “fast.” This is where the custom of giving up something for Lent originated. Lent always begins on a Wednesday, called Ash Wednesday. The name Ash Wednesday is due to ashes being a symbol for repentance. Early Christians would put ashes from palm leaves on their foreheads in the shape of a cross on this day to approach the altar in prayer.
The Focus of Lent Was Always Threefold:
1. It was a time to prepare new converts for baptism through
intensive class instruction.
2. It was a time for long-standing Christians to review their lives
and renew their commitment to Jesus Christ.
3. It was a time for backsliders to be restored to the faith.
(French for “Fat Tuesday”) is a celebration, sometimes called “Carnival,” practiced around the world, on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. It was designed as a way to “get it all out” before the sacrifices of Lent began. New Orleans is the focal point of Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S.
The earliest observance of Palm Sunday was in the fourth century. In the Christian church, the entire week before Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection is considered holy and is observed in the church on a daily basis. On the Sunday before His resurrection, Jesus rode victoriously into Jerusalem. He rode on the back of a donkey, as a king would come into a foreign land in peace. He was honored as the king of the Jews by the cheers of the crowd of over 200,000 worshippers. They laid down palm branches in reverence of His kingship (Mathew 21:8-9 records this). A Palm Sunday procession complete with palm branches is first mentioned in the writings of Etheria the Spanish nun. The church did not have a regular Palm Sunday procession until late in the eleventh century.
As the church custom of Palm Sunday and the processions grew in number, countries that did not have palm trees, replaced the tree branches with trees available to them. Palm Sunday became known as Blossom Sunday, Willow Bough Sunday, Olive Sunday, and any branch will do as the English recognized the day. The palm leaves were burnt and the ashes were saved. On the following year’s Ash Wednesday the ashes were placed on the foreheads of the Christian recipients.
Good Friday is the day that the church recalls the death of Jesus on the cross. It is as bitter sweet as the churches observance of communion. It is a day of remembrance of the humble suffering and love of our Lord for us on the cross. It is also a time of remembrance of our Heavenly Fathers love in desiring to establish a covenant relationship with us by the death of His Son. Many churches have a candlelight service on Good Friday evening. The origin of the word “good” has been lost. Some claim that it is a corruption of “God” and that the early Christians called this day “God’s Friday”. Others claim that “good” refers to the blessings of humanity that Christians believe arose as a result of Jesus’ execution.
The Christian Easter holy day commemorates the resurrection of Christ and as such is considered the most holy and sacred of all Christian holy days. Up until the second century it was only a Saxon festival to the pagan god of spring and offspring known as Eastre. This transformation from a robust Saxon festival of Eastre into a solemn Christian service is an example of the authority of the early Christian church.
During the second century, missionaries of Christ (while being spread across the Teutonic tribes north of Rome) came across numerous customs and heathen religious observances. When possible, the missionaries quietly and cunningly attempted to transform pagan customs of tradition into ceremonies harmonious with Christian doctrine. This often put a stop to Christian persecution because of having a Christian celebration when no one else was celebrating caused the Christians to stand out like sore thumbs and they would become targets for martyrdom.
Baptism in the second century and early church was no informal sacrament of recent converts. Periods of up to three years of instruction and probation were often required to qualify a pagan gentile for admission to full fellowship in the church. As a symbolic custom, it became significant for baptisms to be administered only on the night before Easter so that the birth of the Christian into his new life might correspond to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The resurrection was never celebrated in the New Testament. In the King James version the word Easter is used incorrectly in Acts 12: 4, but is correctly translated as the Passover in the American Standard version of the Bible.
After Easter began to be celebrated, there arose confusion within the church on what day the church should celebrate it. The Gentile Christians wanted to celebrate Easter on Sunday (the Lord’s day). The Jewish Christian tied Easter in with the Passover and wanted to celebrate it on the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox and may fall on any day of the week. Which is the start of the Jewish 8 days of the Passover holiday. The Christian celebration of Easter is linked to the Jewish celebration of the Passover. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed by the ancient Israelites early in each new year. (The Jewish people followed the Persian/Babylonian calendar and started each year with the Spring Equinox circa, MAR-21) “Equinox” means “equal night;” on that date of the year, the night and day are approximately equal. The name “Passover” was derived from the actions of the Angel of Death as described in the book of Exodus. The angel “passed over” the homes of the Jews which were marked with the blood obtained from a ritual animal sacrifice. The same angel exterminated the first born son of every family whose doorway was not so marked. The day before Passover is celebrated by a Fast of the First Born and in the evening is the first Seder meal. On the first day of Passover the second Seder meal is celebrated.
In order to give definition to the church and stop divisions, the Roman emperor, Constantine initiated a council of the church Bishops in 325 AD at the town of Nicaea near Constantinople. At this council, the Easter rule became official. The Easter rule stated that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday, after the first full moon, on or after the Vernal Equinox. At this same council, the symbol of the cross became the official symbol of the Christian church.
Feast of Ascension
Ascension Day is a celebration of Jesus’ ascension up to heaven. The book of Acts records Jesus ascending to heaven 40 days after the resurrection. The church has accepted the account in Acts. The feast is celebrated on a Thursday, 39 days after Easter Sunday. Although tradition states that it was first celebrated in 68 AD, it was not formally recognized by the church until the late 3rd century.
Quotes about the Cross
The cross is where we see man at his worst and God at His best.
Today may be Friday (full of sorrow) but Sunday is a comin’.
There is not a ray of hope for man outside of the substitution of Christ on the cross. D.L. Moody
The two doctrines of Christ’s incarnation and atonement show the marvelous, inconceivable, infinite love of God to poor sinful humanity. Dr. Adolph Saphir
It is said that C.H. Spurgeon chose a text and headed straight for the cross. The Cross is the heart of Christianity. Alban Douglas
What to read to follow that last week of Jesus’ earthly life:
Monday Read: Matt 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44
Tuesday Read: Matt 21:12-25:46
Wednesday Read: Matt 26:1-16 Mark 14:1-11 John 12:1-8
Thursday Read: Matt 26:17-75
Friday Read: Matt 27, John 19
DAY FIVE- Prayer and Fast Week Blog
Today we will sing the songs of overcoming depressions and deep sorrows. How do we handle life when we feel defeated and overcome? How do we carry on when we feel darkness all around us? What do we do when it’s gone so far that it even feels like God has forgotten us? It is a temptation we have all felt, to believe that when this darkness comes, and we no longer feel the Presence of the Lord, almost as if He hides His face from us, we are tempted to think this darkness or sadness may last forever. But like the Psalmist we throw ourselves upon the mercy and grace of our Divine Redeemer, at the feet of Jesus, at the Throne of Grace and we cling to His powerful promises of Redemption and Salvation. He is our Deliverer! As long as we renew our faith in what He’s promised and trust in the Lord, we have joy, fullness of joy and peace. But as soon as trouble takes away our trust and we begin to focus on the problem, we stare at the enemy advancing, we lose sight of that powerful promise God gave us in His Word full of hope! Then we waver and we feel lost. Darkness feels likes it’s all around us. And hope lost makes a soul sick, we worry, we complain, we don’t understand His plan. But we have a God who cares for us. He looks after us, He reaches out to us and saves us, He provides for us. He hasn’t forgotten about us! He loves us. We belong to Him, and He will never leave us or forsake us. The enemy of darkness doesn’t stand a chance against the power of Almighty God! Our enemy is overpowered, overwhelmed and overtaken by our Savior, King Jesus! This gives us great faith! And that faith is what drives us to offer prayers to a God who cares. We find His comfort and realize that our fear was unnecessary, because like the Psalmist we are reminded that the Lord is the one who looks after us. Today let’s remember that we have a light that overwhelms the darkness. Ask the Lord to fill you with songs and prayers full of overcoming faith. Let God’s peace rule in your heart today as you put your confidence, not in what you do, but in the blood of the Lamb of God.
How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
2 How long am I to feel anxious in my soul,
With grief in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in Your faithfulness;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
Because He has looked after me.
Today we sing the song of strong marriages and healthy home life. Read Psalm 15. This Psalm shows us the way to live in the Presence of God and it points to a way of heavenly living. The Psalm starts off with a great question? Who can dwell in Your Presence Lord? We go on to hear that God requires holiness and honesty from us, purity in how we speak and how we think about others, purity in how we live. Holiness begins in our heart and mind, what do you think about? What do you fill your heart and your mind with? The best thing we can fill our mind with, is the Word of God! The people who are closest to us (for most this is our spouse and children, but can also be those who are closest to you in life) these people see us in our truest form. They hear our words, they watch us live, they know our choices. They see if we are filled with God’s Presence and are in pursuit of knowing His Word and holy living and thinking and speaking. Psalm 15 describes to us the wonderful way of living in the Presence of God, that if we would be happy in Christ, we must be holy and honest. The character that God requires of us as His children is a constant pondering of His word, walking in His ways (Jesus said “I am the way”) the lifestyle that God desires for His children is full of healthy thinking and speaking. This heavenly way of living goes even further as we see at the end of the Psalm, we begin to care about the needs of those around us. Is this what fills your home? I think it’s so wonderful that God wants us to speak honestly and highly of others. We hold them up, we don’t slander our spouse or children (even in our deepest secret thoughts we value our loved ones), we keep our home holy and protect each other from the filth of this world in what we watch on TV, or listen to or read, we show kindness to those in need and support the poor and broken around us. This type of lifestyle is a place where God can dwell. This is heavenly living. This is a place where a holy God can be with us and we can grow in Him. Today let’s pray for holiness and honesty to fill our home! May it be our hearts passion and pursuit.
1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
2 The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken.