Every year in the spring people of the Jewish faith celebrate the Feast of Passover. Their celebration brings to remembrance the deliverance of the Jewish people from bondage in Egypt. It also brings a tradition of family closeness as they participate in this feast day. In similar manner, some Christians celebrate Passover for many of the same reasons. However, Passover has a different meaning for Christians. Therefore, we will learn what does Passover mean to Christians?
Where did Passover originate?
The story of Passover can be found in Exodus chapter 12. In the beginning of the chapter God laid out a calendar of events starting with Passover. He commanded that on the 10th day of the first month they would take a one-year-old male lamb that was free from any disease or blemish and separate it out from the other animals and observe it until the 14th day of the month. On the 14th day they were commanded to kill the lamb in the evening and take its blood and apply it to the top and sides of the doorpost of their houses. Then they were to take the lamb and roast it and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They were further commanded to eat it clothed in such a way that they were going to take a journey.
God then explained that when they did this that He would pass through the land of Egypt that night and strike all the firstborn with death, both man and beast, and smite their Egyptian gods in judgment. The blood that the Israelites applied on their doors would protect all that lived in that house. He continued by telling them that they would also eat unleavened bread for the next week.
Later, as God said He would do, at midnight the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. The result was a great cry from all over the land, including the house of Pharaoh. When this happened, Pharaoh called for Moses and his brother Aaron and told them to get their people out along with their flocks and herds. The Egyptians were in such a hurry to have them leave that they gave the Israelites their jewels of silver and gold along with clothing. Likewise, the Israelites were in such a hurry to leave that they took the dough that they had prepared, but before they were able to put leavening in it, and packed it to go.
We see from this account the events that became to be known as Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover, representing death passing over the houses of the Israelites. The feast of unleavened bread, representing the departure from the sinful land of Egypt. These two feasts would become the first of seven major feasts that God instituted with the Israelites. However, these feasts also pointed toward things to come in the future.
How does Passover apply to Christians?
The Bible teaches that since the death of Christ we are no longer under the law because Christ fulfilled the law with His death on the cross (Colossians 2:8-17) Therefore, we no longer are obligated to observe the Old Testament feasts. However, the Old Testament feasts also point to New Testament events. In the case of Passover, John the Baptist made reference to this as applying to Jesus Christ as our Passover lamb in John 1:19–34. In verse 29 John saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold the lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (See also 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; 1 Peter 1:18-21).
The Passover lamb of the Old Testament pointed toward Jesus Christ, who was crucified to death on the cross and His shed blood covered our sins and protected us from death. The Bible says, the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23). But, God loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to be born as a baby, grow to be a man, and live a perfect life without ever sinning. Because He never sinned, He did not have to pay the wages of sin, which is death. However, He allowed Himself to be wrongfully crucified to pay for our wages of sin and rose from the dead three days later, proving what He said was true (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The Bible says whosoever believes in Him, meaning what He did on the cross to pay for our sins, shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
What else can we learn from Passover?
As mentioned previously, God instituted seven major feasts in the Old Testament. The first four feasts were in the spring and the last three feasts were in the fall. Passover was the first of the four spring feasts. Jesus literally fulfilled the feast of Passover on the exact day of Passover. Likewise, the next three spring feasts were literally fulfilled on the exact days they occurred in the year that Jesus was crucified on Passover.
The last three fall feasts, although they were fulfilled at the cross with the death of Jesus, have yet to be fulfilled in God’s prophetic time calendar. We learn from Passover that God took events that occurred in the Old Testament and used them as shadows of prophetic events to come in the New Testament. Therefore, since God demonstrated His faithfulness in fulfilling the first four prophetic events symbolized by the feasts, we can be confident that God will fulfill the last three feasts starting at any moment.
Passover is a feast that commemorates the Lord passing over the Israelites when He struck all the firstborn of Egypt with death. Passover pointed toward Jesus as the Lamb of God, whose death and shed blood would protect those who trust Him as their Savior from death. The death of Jesus on the day of Passover, not only literally fulfilled the Feast of Passover, but also demonstrated to us that God is faithful in carrying out His prophetic plans. These things are what Passover means to Christians.
Related reading: The Easter Bible Story
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version.