Save the Date

Save the Date

Someone asked me a few days ago, “why is it that Easter does not always fall on the Passover?” After
all, we know Jesus was crucified on the week of Passover—it would make sense if the annual observance of his resurrection, which occurred three days later, was celebrated at the same time.

Without going too far down the historical rabbit hole, the short answer is that after a couple of centuries
of increasing distance between early Christianity and Judaism, there was a sense that the date need not
be tied to the Jewish calendar. The Jewish calendar is lunisolar, heavily dependent on the phases of the
moon, while the predominantly Gentile church operated on a solar year, just as we continue to do today. So it was logical to fix the date to the calendar in common use—though where, exactly, to establish it was a matter of some controversy. Finally, at the Council of Nicaea in 325 it was set as the first

Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. More often than not, that falls on Passover;
sometimes, as this year, it is quite a bit off. (And to make it even more confusing, in the Eastern Church
the date is calculated the same, but based on the Julian Calendar rather than the Gregorian, which is
why you might see “Eastern Orthodox Easter” or the like written on your calendar occasionally—it is
not until May 5th this year!)

But this got me to thinking about what Passover and Easter have in common, among other things: remembering. The ability to remember is a wonderful gift that God has given to us. Over the years, I
have talked often about this at funeral services—memorial services—that I have officiated. But God is
also aware of the fact that, sometimes, we forget. When that happens, he has given us reminders to help
jog our memory.

He promised Noah he would never destroy all life in a flood again. Then God stated, “I have set my
rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Gen 9:13).
Every time we see a rainbow, it serves as a reminder of God’s promise.

Or consider a story from Joshua 4 as the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land. They came to
the Jordan at flood stage, uncertain of how to cross it. God instructed Joshua to have the priests carry
the Ark of the Covenant into the middle of the river; when they did that, the water stopped flowing, and
the people crossed on the dry ground. But in the process, God commanded one man of each tribe to
gather a rock from the riverbed in order to make a monument. When your children ask in time to come,
‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off
before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan
were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever (Josh 4:6-7).

There are special days and times in Scripture designed to help us remember specific events. Let’s consider 3 that are especially meaningful. We know the stories behind each one of these, but see how God
jogs our memories and calls us to remember important things.

The Feast of Passover
The Israelites had been sojourners and then slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. Then God called Moses
to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let the people go. Moses complied, but Pharaoh refused to listen. So to
reinforce his demand, God sent plague after plague upon Egypt, finally culminating in the death of the

But before he did that, God gave instructions to the Israelites: each family was to choose a year-old lamb
without spot or blemish, kill it, drain its blood into a basin, and roast it. They were to take the blood and
spread it around the doorframe of the house, so that the Lord would pass over them when he struck the
households of the Egyptians. God did everything that he said he would do, and as a result, the Egyptians
set them free. And that is why the Passover was to be celebrated. This day shall be for you a memorial
day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you
shall keep it as a feast (Exodus 12:14).

The Lord’s Supper
The night before his crucifixion, Jesus met with his disciples to celebrate the Passover—to remember, as
God had commanded them long ago. But as they ate, Jesus gave them something new and greater to remember. [T]he Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given
thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the
same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this,
as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:23-25).

The Passover meal was no longer to be a reminder of release from Egyptian bondage; now the bread and
cup were to be eternal reminders of the new thing God had done in Christ, who is our Passover lamb
without spot or blemish, taking away our sins (1 Cor 5:7; 1 Pet 1:19; Jn 1:29).

The Day of Assembly
We meet to eat this meal together on the first day of the week. The Jews had a day set aside for remembrance every week: the Sabbath, a day for rest commemorating God’s consecration of it at Creation. In a
similar way, the first day celebrates God’s action in the resurrection of Jesus. That’s when the earliest
Christians met to encourage one another and worship God.

In the book of Revelation, John speaks of this as the Lord’s Day (Rev 1:10). And so it is that we assemble on the Lord’s Day to eat the Lord’s Supper and corporately worship.

We have so much to remember, in all aspects of life. But it is especially true in our spiritual lives. Let’s
not forget the faithfulness God always exhibits toward his people. Let’s not forget to come together to
worship him. And when we do, let us especially remember what God has down for us in Christ: the sacrifice that calls us together and the resurrection that guarantees our own.

The Tax Man


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