For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:3-4).
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)
When studying the Bible it is essential that we understand not only the symbolic context, but also its literal fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Simply read aloud the following prayer as we share together in communion with our Lord:
And everybody's invited over to Marie's house for Passover dessert. I think she's serving coconut macaroons in chocolate shells. Bring your own jelly beans! (Her little lamb just loves 'em.)
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Editor's Note: Even before the Council of Nicaea, as early as 150 AD, the church debated when to celebrate the Resurrection, or Christian Passover. Polycarp, a disciple of John the Apostle, went to Rome to discuss the matter with Bishop Anicetus. They had differing opinions, but did not break fellowship over the matter. The church had a problem with the Jewish calendar which shifted the date of the Resurrection one or two months from the approximate date that was generally agreed upon which meant that the Christian Passover would not always fall on a Sunday -- the day of our Lord's resurrection -- and on occasion it might even fall before Passover which was not acceptable.
That the early church, in fact, observed the Resurrection within the week of Passover is not disputed. Polycarp understood from John's teaching that the Christian communion would commence on Nisan 14 concurrent with the start of Passover. This view was held by the early church fathers Eusebius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus (a disciple of Polycarp) and Tertullian.
When we consider the pagan traditions of Easter it is important to understand that the early church -- well before the Council of Nicaea -- had good faith discussions to maintain unity and fellowship. They had their differences as to when and how to observe the Resurrection but, as Irenaeus wrote:
And yet nevertheless all these lived in peace one with another, and we also keep peace together. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always [so] observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other.
Finally, it is true that Easter has been corrupted by pagan influences, but no more so I should think than Christmas. The church will surely answer for her sins, but whether a brother is right to observe the Resurrection on Passover, Firstfruits, Good Friday or Easter I will have to defer to John's disciple and keep fellowship with all (Romans 14:5).
Suggested Readings: Our Passover Lamb, Resurrection Day