“Blessed art thou, Lord our God, master of the universe, who has kept us alive and sustained us and has brought us to this special time.”
Today is Passover. It actually began last night at sundown. In fact, this entire week is often called Passover week, also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Maybe you say, “So what? I’m not Jewish. What is that to me? I’m a Christian.”
My answer is going to be controversial, indeed, for many earnest traditional believers. I don’t tell you this to be controversial. I tell you because, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, you are my brethren, and, as such, I want you to be sure you know God’s will for your life.
Passover is not really a “Jewish holiday.” It’s one of the Feasts of the Lord – our Lord. It’s a very important observance, a very biblical one, an appointed time for which we, all God’s children, were commanded to mark as a “holy convocation” forever, “throughout your generations.”
The reason we think of Passover as a “Jewish holiday” is because Jews have been, since the early part of the fourth century, pretty much the only people who have kept this commandment. That’s when Constantine, the emperor of Rome, concerned more for the unity of his empire than for the Word of God, forsook Passover and coerced other followers of Jesus to observe Easter because it was more “convenient” and so that the church would have nothing in common with the Jews,” who were blamed for the death of Jesus.
I know that’s a lot to swallow, if this is the first time you are hearing it, so I will quote from the decision of the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325: “When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; … it was declared particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom of the Jews, who have soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded. … We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews … in unanimously adopting this mode, we desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews, for it is truly shameful for us to hear them boast that without their direction we could not keep this feast. … They do not possess the truth in this Easter question; a Divine Providence wills that this custom should be rectified and regulated in a uniform way; and everyone, I hope, will agree upon this point. As, on the one hand, it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord; and as, on the other, the custom now followed by the Churches of the West, of the South and of the North, and by some of those of the East, is the most acceptable. … You should consider not only that the number of churches in these provinces make a majority, but also that it is right we should have nothing in common with the Jews.”
Following this fateful decision, the Roman Empire began to persecute those who, like Jesus and His apostles, observed Passover throughout their lives.
You probably realize Jesus observed Passover and was crucified as the sacrificial Passover lamb of God during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, rising from the grave three days later. But how do we know the apostles continued to observe Passover? Because the New Testament tells us so.
In Acts 20:6, Luke relates a story about Paul’s travels: “And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days.” Passover, interchangeably known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is a seven-day observance.
In 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Paul is recorded observing Passover: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
There’s much more to this history that is well-recorded. You are not likely to hear it in your churches on Easter Sunday, because, sadly, most Christians follow the tradition of men rather than the Word of God.
You might recall, however, that this was one of the primary concerns of Jesus throughout His earthly ministry – that the Pharisees were following the traditions of men at the expense of the commandments of God: Matthew 15 and Mark 7.
I tell you this today not to judge you and your heart. I don’t contest that we are to live by faith and in spirit. But we are not to be deceived either. We are not to follow the traditions of men at the expense of what we can learn from the Scriptures.
There’s much more to this story than I can teach in a single commentary. Study about what I write with readiness of mind; search the Scriptures daily like Bereans to determine for yourself whether these things be so.
In the meantime, have a blessed Passover.
For more study resources on Passover, I recommend the following:
- “All About Passover” by Jim Staley – a five-DVD collection of teachings by the pastor of Passion for Truth Ministries;
- “The Feasts of the Lord” by Mark Biltz – a two-DVD collection of teachings by the pastor of El Shaddai Ministries, best known for the “Blood Moons” discovery;
- Your Bible under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
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