The term “Judeo-Christian” is often heard and often quoted, usually in reference to the laws and culture of the United States.
Still, how many people actually taken the time to consider exactly what that means?
There is probably no better time of year to actually ponder that question than the time of Passover and Easter. They have more in common than you might think.
Both fall at nearly the same time of year. The difference is the calendar dates.
In America and in the West, Easter is dated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. This falls somewhere between March 22 and April 25.
Passover, on the other hand, is based on the Jewish calendar, a lunar calendar that has twelve 28-day months. But the difference is much greater than the dates.
The Jewish faith is celebrating the Book of Exodus. This where the Pharaoh refused Moses’ demands, as God told Moses he would, to set the Hebrew people free from bondage.
What followed were the plagues, such as hail, frogs, the Nile turning to blood, and culminating in the Angel of Death coming for the first born in Egypt.
In order that the Angel would pass the Hebrew people by, God told the Hebrew people to select a lamb for each family. The lamb had to be unblemished, in perfect condition.
After 3 days of caring for the lamb, the family then had to slaughter it and roast it, but were also instructed by God not to break a single bone of the lamb.
But first, the blood of the lamb had to be smeared around the door posts. The Angel seeing this, would not visit death upon them. That is what happened.
At this time, the pharaoh let the people go, but then he changed his mind, and ordered his army to track them down.
When the people were stopped by the Red Sea, God instructed Moses to put his staff into the water, and then God parted the Red Sea, permitting the Hebrews to cross.
But when the Egyptians attempted to cross, the waters closed and destroyed the Egyptian forces.
Hebrew people still cleanse their houses of any leavening agent, such as yeast or baking soda, because God told the people not to use yeast, and to make their bread flat in order to save time.
Yeast became a symbol of sin. Hence, at this time of year, no leavening is to be found in Jewish homes until the end of the season. This is how Matzah bread came to be. The Bible tells us in Leviticus 23, to keep the Passover season holy.
So how did Easter happen to fall at the same time?
Because Jesus was crucified during the Passover season.
The Easter festival came about by the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in the year 325 A.D. The main issue of the time was the desire of the Catholic Church to rid any elements of “Jewishness” in its faith.
There was also the theory that is still debated today, whether the Church wanted to reach the Anglo-Saxon pagans of the north, by incorporating the names of pagan gods and goddesses, and their traditions, but this cannot be proven conclusively.
In any event, people today are not celebrating the pagans, but Easter is to remember the death and resurrection of Jesus.
So why are more and more Christian churches today holding Passover Seders?
The Passover Seder is often called “The Last Supper” today. This is in reference to the Passover meal Jesus held with his disciples. Being all Jewish, they gathered to celebrate the Passover, and it was here Jesus told them this would be their last supper together.
Judas would betray Jesus later that evening.
Here is what many Christians, and Messianic Jews (Jewish believers in Jesus) see. They believe Passover is a prophecy of the coming Messiah over 1,500 years later.
The lamb that God told the people in Exodus must be unblemished and “not a single bone broken.” This is exactly the state of Jesus. He was perfect, unblemished, and despite the horrible torture and crucifixion, not a single bone in his body was broken.
In Exodus, the blood of the lamb was shed to save the Jewish people from death.
Jesus, who is called “The Lamb” 29 times in the Book of Revelations, represents the Passover lamb.
Christians believe Jesus fulfilled this same sacrifice for the entire world.
It is through his blood they believe they are saved.
They also note Jesus, being Jewish, celebrated the Passover. Why shouldn’t Christians?
The separation between the Jewish faith and the Christian faith is not as vast as many believe it is. In fact, you cannot have Christianity without Judaism.
Jesus himself never said he was coming to create a new religion. He said, “I come to fulfill and not destroy the prophets and the writings.”
Whichever season, or both seasons, you wish to celebrate, you can. For believers of both Judaism and Christianity, this is the most holy and beautiful time of the year.
Happy Easter or Chag Sameach (Happy Holidays)!