Why don’t Christians celebrate the feast of Passover?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of why Christians don’t universally celebrate the feast of Passover, as observed in Judaism, involves historical, theological, and practical considerations within Christian traditions. Passover holds significant biblical importance, marking the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt, as detailed in the book of Exodus. Understanding why Christians may or may not celebrate this feast requires exploring these aspects, alongside relevant biblical references from the Bible.

Historical and Biblical Context of Passover

Origins and Significance

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is a central festival in Judaism, commemorating the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt after centuries of slavery. According to Exodus 12, God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and mark their doorposts with its blood to protect them from the final plague — the death of the firstborn. This event led to Pharaoh releasing the Israelites, marking their freedom and God’s deliverance.

Institution of the Passover

The institution of Passover is detailed in Exodus 12:1-14 (NKJV), where God commands Moses and Aaron:

“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: “On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.”‘”

God outlines the specific rituals and instructions for observing Passover, including the sacrifice of a lamb, the eating of unleavened bread, and the significance of the blood on the doorposts.

Continuation in Jewish Tradition

Passover remains a vital observance in Jewish tradition, marked by the Seder meal where the Exodus story is retold through rituals, prayers, and symbolic foods. It signifies gratitude for God’s redemption and affirms Jewish identity and covenantal relationship with God.

Christian Perspectives on Passover

Theological Significance

For Christians, Passover holds profound theological significance rooted in the events of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Several New Testament passages connect Jesus’ life and ministry with the themes and symbols of Passover, highlighting the continuity and fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan.

Jesus as the Passover Lamb

One of the central Christian interpretations of Passover is Jesus’ identification as the sacrificial Lamb of God. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV), Paul writes:

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

Paul links the Christian understanding of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice with the symbolism of Passover, emphasizing Jesus’ role as the ultimate Passover Lamb whose blood brings spiritual liberation from sin and death.

The Last Supper

The Last Supper, where Jesus shared a meal with His disciples before His crucifixion, is often viewed as a Passover meal. In Luke 22:15-20 (NKJV), Jesus connects the elements of the Passover Seder — the bread and wine — with His impending sacrifice:

“Then He said to them, ‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.'”

Jesus’ words and actions at the Last Supper establish the Christian practice of the Communion, where unleavened bread and wine symbolize His body and blood, given as a new covenant for the forgiveness of sins.

Today, every Christian should keep the Passover but with a new meaning. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) teaches, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” The church of God must be a pure church. It must be entirely free from all corruption and imperfection, such as are here typified by “leaven” (Matthew 5:48; Ephesians 1:4; 5:27; Galatians 5:9). The church must be covered by the blood of Jesus, who is here set forth as the antitypical Passover Lamb.

Whenever we have the Lord’s Supper, we are keeping the feast of Passover and the angel of judgment passes over our lives because of our faith in the blood of Jesus, the same way he did for the children of Israel. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7 also Hebrews 9:12-14; Revelation 7:14).

The Resurrection of Christ

The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are understood as fulfilling the ultimate meaning of Passover, providing eternal deliverance from sin and death. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 (NKJV) links Christ’s resurrection with the hope of eternal life:

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

The Resurrection emphasizes the victory of Christ over sin and death, marking the culmination of God’s plan of redemption.

Reasons Why Christians Might Not Celebrate Passover

Theological Distinctions

Christian theology often distinguishes between the Old Testament ceremonial laws and the fulfillment of these laws in Christ. Colossians 2:16-17 (NKJV) suggests:

“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”

Christians interpret these verses to mean that Christ has fulfilled the symbolic and ceremonial aspects of Passover, rendering its observance as part of the Mosaic law no longer necessary for salvation.

Emphasis on Christ-Centered Worship

Christian worship centers on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The emphasis is on celebrating His salvific work and its implications for believers rather than observing Old Testament feasts and rituals. Hebrews 9:11-15 (NKJV) explains:

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Christ’s sacrifice is seen as the fulfillment of the sacrificial system, including Passover, offering eternal redemption and forgiveness of sins.

Conclusion

The question of why Christians don’t universally celebrate the feast of Passover reflects theological distinctions and historical developments. Christians emphasize the fulfillment of Passover in Jesus Christ, celebrating His sacrificial death and resurrection. This perspective highlights Christ as the ultimate Passover Lamb whose sacrifice brings eternal redemption and forgiveness of sins.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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