What’s the Big Deal?
So Sunday is Easter, right? That means my kids get out of school for a few days, we might go out of town or something, we might give them some candy in a basket with some of that weird looking grass shaped paper, we might even hide a bunch of eggs around the yard. Doesn’t it have something to do with a rabbit? Wait a minute, rabbits are mammals aren’t they? I’m pretty sure they birth bunnies and they don’t have eggs! I might need to Google that. Isn’t the word Easter from some random springtime goddess named Eostre? Or wasn’t “Eostre” the word for spring festivals? I’m so confused, what are we even talking about with this Easter thing? What is all the hoopla about?
Let’s get to the bottom of this Easter thing.
Matthew 20:17-19 (ESV) And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
What does this have to do with Easter? Well, let’s ask a few questions of the text. Why were Jesus and His disciples heading into Jerusalem? They were coming to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. Passover is a celebration of God freeing the Israelites from bondage in Egypt through the plagues, specifically the last plague of the firstborn. In this plague God spared His people by passing over their houses if they put the lamb’s blood over the door. This was another picture God painted of the importance of the lamb’s blood in salvation. God paints this picture many times, for instance the story of Abraham and Isaac where they were going to make sacrifice and Abraham said that God would supply the lamb. God did supply that lamb, but much later.
Ok, so what does that have to do with Easter? Well, linguistically the word Passover has everything to do with Easter. Hebrew for Passover is Pesach. Well, in French Easter is the word Pâques, in Italian its Pasqua, Spanish its Pascua, Dutch Pasen, Danish Påske or Russian Paskha, and this is just a few. All of these words are clearly referring to the word Pesach meaning Passover. So Easter is really a reference to the Passover, specifically this Passover feast of Jesus.
So this Passover was different from any before or any since. As Jesus took the Passover meal with His disciples, He completely changed their understanding of the meal. Jesus said from now on when you break bread and drink from the cup remember my body broken and my blood spilt on your behalf.
Luke 22:15-20 (ESV) And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Essentially, Jesus is saying, “Remember that Passover lamb that saved the Israelites from death and freed them from bondage, I am that lamb. My blood will cover all mankind from death and free them all from the bondage of sin.” How did He accomplish this, well, He tells us in Matthew 20. He was condemned, mocked, flogged, and crucified to overcome sin and grant us freedom from its bondage and then He rose from the grave to show His power of death and free us also from death.
So what is the big deal around Easter? Well, Easter means Passover and Passover now means remembering the cross and the resurrection. It’s a celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. So have great hope, my friends, and have great joy this weekend because Christ has overcome it all and granted us His victory as well. Time to take that victory march in Christ’s name, time to break out the feast because love has won!