8 April 2015 by Esperanza Ng CM –
“What would you say is the most important celebration on the Christian calendar?” Rev. Ronnie Chiu posed to the congregation of Straits Baptist Church Melaka this past Easter Sunday.
Between Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas, many people will immediately say “Christmas!” because it is the most recognized of the three. While only the Christians celebrate Good Friday and Easter, the whole world celebrates Christmas with us. However, Rev. Ronnie pointed out, no one celebration is more important than the other. Without Christmas, which remembers the birth of Christ, there would be no Good Friday or Easter. Without Good Friday or Easter, Christmas would be irrelevant. Without Good Friday, there wouldn’t be Easter, and without Easter, Good Friday would not be very good at all.
The significance of Easter is dependent on Good Friday, and in order to understand the importance of Good Friday, we must learn to appreciate the entire Passion Week, beginning from Palm Sunday. The key to understanding the Passion Week, then, is centered on the importance of Passover. This brings us all the way back to Genesis 12, when God made a promise to Abraham.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
God promised that through Abraham, a great nation would rise. Through him, all the people of the earth will be blessed! “All people of the earth” refers to us! And the blessing that God is talking about here is Christ Jesus, our Passover Lamb. Therefore, we are here today celebrating Easter because of the promise God made to Abraham that we will be blessed through his line.
Another occasion in which Abraham intimates the coming of Christ as the Lamb of God is when he brought his son, Isaac, up the mountain as a sacrifice to God. When they reached the top of the mountain and Abraham started building the altar for sacrifice, Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb for sacrifice was, and Abraham’s reply was, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). That was a prophetic message of the Lamb that God would sacrifice for the atonement of all our sins.
Fast-forward several hundred years, we come across Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt after the last and final plague: the death of every Egyptian first born. It was here that the first Passover took place, when death passed over the Israelite’s doorposts that had been marked with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. Every subsequent Passover since that night until today, has been in celebration and remembrance of the Israelites’ deliverance out of slavery.
That first Passover and the Exodus, finds fulfillment in Christ as the Lamb of God that was sacrificed for the salvation of the world. Egypt is a representation of the things of this world: idolatry, an abundance of possessions and wealth, hardship and labor, etc. But God made four promises to the Israelites:
1. I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians
2. I will free you from being slaves to them
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts
4. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God
In the same way, through Christ’s death and resurrection, we can be freed of the bondage of this world and are redeemed from our sins. Through Jesus, the divide between Jews and Gentiles was broken so that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, can now be our God as well.
Finally, we look at the Passover that changed the course of history: the Passover that took place right before Jesus walked that road to Calvary. On the 10th day of Nisan (the 1st month of the Jewish calendar), which is the day that thousands of perfect lambs are selected and brought into Jerusalem in preparation for Passover, Jesus told his disciples to get him a donkey and rode into Jerusalem. We know this day as Palm Sunday.
Over the course of the week, the High Priests were to inspect these lambs that had been brought in, to ensure that they were without blemish. It was during these four days that Jesus was repeatedly questioned, only to be found perfect.
On the 15th day of Nisan, which began at sundown on Thursday, the Passover feast was held, and on that same 15th day on Friday, Jesus, the perfect Lamb, was crucified on the cross. Just before he died, Jesus cried, “It is finished!” thus concluding the Passover. Just as the first Passover was completed with the deliverance of Israel’s first born, that Passover was fulfilled when Jesus gave up His spirit and delivered the world from eternal death.
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). If, and only if we have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, can Easter mean anything to us because Easter is the fulfillment of God’s promise. Because Jesus didn’t stay dead—because of His resurrection, we know with absolute certainty that His words have credibility, and that we can answer His call to “Come!”
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