Speaking on the subject of Passover for the last few weeks has given me cause to reflect on the meaning of Passover and Easter. When I was growing up, Passover was an annual event that reinforced my identity as a Jew. I looked forward to the time my family would spend together during a seder. I anticipated the matzoh ball soup, and looked forward to vying with my older brother to find the afikomen. I cannot, however, really remember a time when I was growing up when anyone -- mom, dad, or our rabbi -- encouraged me to think about the deeper meaning of Passover: God's redemptive power.
Today, as a Jew who believes in Jesus, I am able to see that deeper meaning more clearly. As I read in the story of the Exodus how my ancestors sacrificed a spotless lamb and applied its blood to the doorposts of their home (and therefore avoided death), I am able to see how this event foreshadowed a greater sacrifice, in the death of Jesus. Just as the blood of the lambs saved my ancestors from death, the blood of the Lamb, the Messiah Jesus, saves us all from death. His sacrifice on the cross was a greater atonement than any animal sacrifice, a gift that gives eternal life to those who place their faith in Him.
"For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16
It's in the context of Easter that I am able to think about that gift. While the death of Jesus on the cross is the action that atoned for the sins of all, Easter is about the Resurrection. The Resurrection of Jesus is the miracle on which the claims of Christianity stand or fall. Take away the Resurrection, and the death of Jesus is without meaning. It was the fact of the Resurrection which transformed the disciples of Jesus from a defeated and dispirited group of men, who had seemingly seen all of their hopes and dreams die on a cross with their leader, into a dynamic group of men whose lives transformed the world as we know it. Quite a gift indeed!
May you have a joyous Passover and a Happy Easter!