Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - Sixth in a series
How wonderful to think of Jesus riding on the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem on his way to celebrate Passover, knowing that HE would be the Paschal (Easter) (Acts 12:4 KJV) Lamb. Hosannah in the highest to the King of Kings!
This had been prophesied by Zechariah, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zec 9:9)
The Lord told Moses to command the men to travel to Jerusalem three times annually, first to celebrate Passover (Pesach) that marked the nation's exodus from Egypt and slavery; second, to commemorate the Weeks (Shavuíoth) that are counted from the second day of Passover to the date when God gave the Torah to the nation of Israel at Mt. Sinai, also known as Pentecost in the New Testament when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the believers; and third, for the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth) on the 15th day of the seventh month, to mark the end of harvest time. Perhaps the Christian's counterpart to this Feast is the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven (Rev 19:7), where in contrast we shall have a permanent home rather than temporary shelters.
As a Jew, Jesus obediently went to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, which God commanded in Exodus (Ex 12:1-27). He and his disciples ate the meal in the upper room that was specially prepared by a man whose identity is not made known in Scripture. (Mark 14:13)
For the Jew, the day began in the evening, to wit, And the evening and the morning were the first day… And the evening and the morning were the second day… (Gen 1:5, 8 et al). But we start the day in the morning, so Christians who desire to commemorate the Last Supper must do so on the day before Good Friday. However, from an historic standpoint, the sacrament of communion that was initiated then was enjoyed on the same day as Christ was crucified. He was commanding a new rite that would take the place of Passover, Do this in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:19)
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. (Mark 14:22-25)
The first day of Passover is the start of eating unleavened bread, and preparing the lamb, and on the second day, the meal is eaten. Then there are six days more of the Passover celebration. Thus, Christ was crucified on the second day of Passover, for it is not a matter of us killing the Lamb of God (as was done on the first day of the feast) but of eating him in the manner which we are taught in this passage: (Please leave a comment and reference if you differ with this view. There are other views and I am a layperson.)
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him… (John 6:51-56)
This is metaphorical for it is hard to envision and hard to accept— this horrifying yet enlivening knowledge that by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa 53:6)
The substitutionary atonement was offered on Day One, Day Two was the Sabbath (Luke 23:55-56), and Christ rose from the dead on Day Three (Luke 18:33).
Thus on the fourth day of Passover which we count as Sunday– the Christian Sabbath for most Christians– the empty tomb was observed well into the day even though very early in the morning, for the women who went to the tomb would have slept at night (and the Jewish day began in the evening.)
The Resurrection injured the Passover festival forever. The eight-day feast was torn in half as surely as the veil in the Temple was. (Mat 27:51)
It is possible for Christians to observe the day of Christ’s crucifixion very nearly to its original time by celebrating Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox which was approximated to be March 21 by the Council of Nicea (see previous post). The Jewish year begins in the Spring and Jewish months are begun at the appearance of the new moon. Passover week can overlay Easter week.
But after all these facts and viewpoints, the thing is, let’s observe Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday as very special occasions for Thanksgiving. If you must work, remind yourself that you work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col 3:24-25)