Passover and Easter, Miracles and Transformations (or, So what are we Celebrating, vol 2, pt 4)

Easter traditions around the world are many and varied.  Some celebrate with the bunny and the decorated eggs.  Some children roll the colored eggs or hunt them after their parents or older siblings have hidden them.  In Australia, in the southern hemisphere where seasons are opposite to those in northern hemisphere and autumn begins at Eastertime, Australians celebrate Easter with a produce show since it’s harvest time.  In Germany, the folks make bonfires of the Christmas trees from the prior Christmas.  In the U.S. some families watch films including Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments’ featuring Charleton Heston or ‘The Robe’ featuring Richard Burton and Jean Simmons or TV specials like, ‘It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!’

Passover traditions are a bit less varied but include eating unleavend bread for eight days and the ceremonial Passover Seder to relive the miracles by which the God of Abraham brought His people out of slavery in Egypt.  Normally, during the Seder, the children will go outdoors to look for the Prophet Elijah.  And later, the youngest children will search for the afe komen, a portion of matzah one of the adults wrapped in a napkin and hid somewhere in the dining room or banquet hall. 

Last year at Pentecost and Shavuot, I wrote of similarities in the Divine miracles recorded in Exodus for Shavuot and the Book of Acts for Pentecost.  In Exodus, during the miracles, the Spirit of God fell on a several dozen elders.  In Acts, the Spirit of God fell on thousands followers of Christ.  wrote about how God does similar miracles on different scales.  I want to consider the miracles of Passover and Easter together for a moment. 

At Passover, Jews remember the ten plagues with which God smote Pharaoh and the Egyptians to turn the heart of the King and release God’s people from slavery to forced labor.  The plagues were these:  blood, frogs, lice, wild animals, pestilence, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the death of the firstborn.  Parting the Red Sea for His people to pass through on dry land and then drowning Pharaoh’s army in it was an additional miracle.   

At Eastertime, Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, (Yeshua haMoshiach) on Good Friday and then celebrate the miracle His resurrection on Easter Sunday.

At Passover, the plagues and the miracles were obvious and witnessed by all the Egyptians and all of God’s people.  At Easter, the Resurrection miracle wasn’t actually witnessed by anyone, except perhaps the Angels who greeted the women who went to wrap Yeshua’s body properly for burial with cloth and spices.  The two women at dawn saw the empty tomb and a few hours later, Apostles Peter and John, saw the same:  empty tomb, the great stone rolled away and Yeshua’s shroud folded off to one side.  Yeshua later appeared to his male and female disciples over a period of forty days leading up to Pentecost.  But that was after the resurrection.  

 At Easter we celebrate hidden miracles, while at Passover we remember obvious miracles that turned the heart of a king.  But whose hearts are changed at Easter?  It should be the hearts of all followers of Yeshua. And the changes of heart shouldn’t be limited to Easter.  Day after week, after month, after year, followers of Yeshua should see each other and themselves becoming more like Yeshua.  Some Christians call themselves sinners saved by grace, with a subliminal emphasis on sinner. I submit that the emphasis should be on saved. We should be more kind, more patient and more charitable.  But we should also inspire more kindness, patience and charity in the rest of the world.   Sometimes kindness and charity mean calling out hypocrites.  Sometimes it means feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless.  Sometimes it means allowing people to have the opportunity to pursue their God-given talents as far as their dreams will take them. Lastly, let me emphasize that none of this is expected of a believer in his or her own strenght alone. This transformation of heart and mind comes by Divine Providence at work in us.  

Thanks again for reading! Do you have a favorite story about a past Easter or Passover celebration?  Tell us about it in the comments below. 

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 The facts are the facts. The opinions are my own, unless otherwise cited, and not necessarily those of my employers, nor is anything I wrote here necessarily endorsed by any religious denomination.

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