This week the Jewish Pesach (Passover) is celebrated. Most of us in the USA celebrate it as Easter. Around the world it is recognized as a holiday with religious undertones. Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Unitarians, Lutherans, Mormons and so on…begin the rituals of Passover. We know the story of the Exodus from Egypt, of Moses leading the Israelite’s and Joshua led them across the Jordon River into the Promise Land we now call Israel. We know the story of the Easter Bunny who leaves an egg (fertility) as a gift to the happy hunter. We buy our favorite foods for the Easter dinner. We buy our specialty foods for the Seder meal. All the excitement is centered around the day pending on the calendar, built up with high expectations.
But the greatest story is the one of a man, who came from a small village in the town of Nazareth, Israel. He was born in a lowly stable, amongst the livestock. To parents, who had to flee for their lives in order to protect their son. He was destined for greatness but not in the same sense that we applaud royalty, athletes, actors, musicians and scholars. To those who spend their life focused on self accomplishments and accolades…the cheers and applause from the crowds. His was a simple and poor life. His friends were few and those of ill repute and unfavorable company. Fishermen were his best friends – companions.
But when he spoke, the world was at his command. When he touched the water, the nets became overflowing with fish while out fishing with his companions. He did not deny the healing of anyone who asked of him or sought him out for prayer. Never educated formally, he understood the mysteries of the universe and could teach at ease in the highest of scholarly platforms. His destiny was to be accomplished on a cross and not in a palace among royals. He, at the end of his life, rode on a donkey into the city of his heritage, Jerusalem. Some in the crowd loved him dearly. But most hated him. Delivered by an angry, hateful and jealous mob, who did not want him or find a need for him, he was judged and tried for being a heretic in Jerusalem. Although, no one could accuse him of any wrong doing- it was left to a choice between real criminals and an innocent man. Hate’s choice won the draw and an innocent man was hung on a cross. Beaten, mocked, spat on, flesh torn by the nails dragged by a whip across his back…he carried his cross to his destiny, Golgotha. Between two criminals he hung to his death, nailed through his feet and hands. Forsaken by his father, he died of a broken heart. His name on the plaque atop the cross was King of the Jews. Placed in a tomb, after the third day on the Sabbath at dawn, the woman Mary went to visit the burial site. To her amazement, standing in the garden was Jesus in his new Resurrected body. His destiny fulfilled. He had come to bring salvation to mankind and forgiveness of sins. He was the true Lamb of God – the Passover covenant for His Father. The one who walked a lowly life became the Messiah for all eternity. His kingdom was not to be of this earth. His kingdom is in the heavenly realm with God. But before Jesus ascended to heaven, he left the Holy Spirit as a Comforter for all that will believe on Him as the true Son of God.
Josephus, who was a historian during this time in Jewish history, writes (Antiquities of the Jews) of an event that took place in Jerusalem during the crucifixion of Jesus. So, we know that this event did take place, historically documented.
During this week that we gather to celebrate the Passover and Easter holiday, may we also remember the event on the calendar that God also awaited with high expectations. The day that His son would fulfill His Word- prophesied centuries before in the OT (Isaiah 43) and sung in the Psalms (46,47).
May God our Father, Christ Jesus our Savior, comfort your hearts with the Holy Spirit during this week of Passover and may your hearts be filled with His unfailing love towards you, his people.