Passover And Easter: What Do They Have In Common? (john 1.29-31 )

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Passover-doorpostJesus is portrayed in the Gospel of John as the Passover Lamb. You may recall in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Ex.12), in order for the angel of death to pass over the homes of believing Israelites families, the families needed to put a special sign on their doorposts – the blood of a lamb. The gospel of John pictures Jesus as the ultimate Lamb of God who not only symbolically covered the sins of Israelite households, but he actually took away the sin of the entire world (vs. 29).

A short side trip into church history will make it more interesting for us. In many predominantly Christian, countries, the festival of Easter was called by a different name. It was called the “Christian Passover.” Why? It’s simple. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the judgment of God passed over the sinner’s heads, just as it passed over the heads of the Israelites in their exodus from ancient Egypt. You see, all early Christians celebrated a festival that later came to be known as Easter. However, it used to be called Pascha (Easter in Syriac/Aramaic) or Peisach (Passover in Hebrew).  Christian and Jewish leaders eventually worked to create and establish a clear separation between what became Christianity and Judaism. This process in spite of the popular opinion, took centuries and did not take place in the early second century as commonly thought.Ressurection Jewish Jesus

Some Christians believed that Pascha (Christian Passover) had to be commemorated on the same date as the Jewish Passover while other Christians believed that Pascha should be celebrated on a different day than the Jewish Passover. The latter view won and the first view was eventually declared heretical.

Usually, Christians who held to the first view looked at Pascha as the day of Jesus’ sacrificial death. Others though believed that this holiday was meant instead to signify his resurrection. All of this is to say that while anti-Judaism in the early church did contribute to the date separation between Jewish and Christian Passovers, it was not the main factor. There were several other important considerations. Anti-Judaism, though present, was not the driving force behind the creation of a separate Christian identity and culture in the early centuries.

Important note: In the future posts we will discuss in detail the use of the technical term the “Passover of the Jews ” in this Gospel. It will be shown that the reason John’ keeps saying Passover of the Jews, is not to explain to Gentiles that it was a Jewish holiday, but to highlight which one of the various Israelite Passovers Jesus actually observed (most notably, Passover of the Jews vs. Passover of Samaritans).

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© By Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, Ph.D.

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  1. Kristine Holland

    Informative and insightful. Appreciation from Australia. I will attend the Good Friday service in peaceful resolve where the holiness of the people sings unto heaven…. with timbrels, choir and brass instruments in harmonious worship

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      May you have a peaceful and meaningful Passover/Easter! Make sure you are on my weekly teaching list! It will be well worth your while. Blessings, Dr. Eli

  2. Lilja Aðalsteinsdóttir

    Hi Eli its pleasantly surprising to me that páskar meaning passover in Iceladic are so similar to Pascha I have always though the word didn´t sound very Icelandic and to day I have learned the word originates from Syriac & Aramaic fascinating
    thank you

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Dear Lilja, writting from Iceland??!!!! WOW!!! Thanks for your comment, make sure that you are on my weekly teaching email list. We look forward to having you in our study group. Blessings and peace, Dr. Eli

  3. […] Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were […]

  4. Kathleen Oden

    I am so surprised to see people referring to holy days as “holidays.” Easter is a man-made pagen holiday. God only created holy days. I think that is why most of the world follows Easter and Christmas. There is nothing holy about how people act on these days.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Here is a rough etymology of the word holiday. Hope this will help.

      The word holiday derived from the notion of “Holy Day”, and gradually evolved to its current form.The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school.

      1. Eric Rodríguez

        BS”D

        Shalom!
        Kathleen’s words are right; We don’t be afraid of changing the Status quo; it’s necessary to announce that there is a world set before our eyes for not seing the truth!

  5. Eric Rodríguez

    BS”D

    Is very important to take in account that Yehoshua’ didn’t established a new day, date or celebration! He, in that moment, followed the Essenian calendar/date for celebrating the Seder and mantaining the subjection to the Hebrew Community at all (although the difference they all were ovel all, jews!!), because on (or during) commemorations, he would/Should be die, this is obvious! Who understood that a new date/celebratio began, didn’t understand anything. Untill where I know, Easter is a Pagan term in/from ancient germanic people (after Eostre/Ostara) so, is not correct to use it in relation to Pesach; there is only One Pesach, such as exists One God!! If Pascha פסחא means The commemoration of the resurrection or death of Messiah, is not a correct/Perfect term. Pascha only must be the aramaic word for Pesach (Passover) !!!

    1. Eric Rodríguez

      BS”D
      addenda: This is a part of which I said about Easter: (Jacob Grimm wrote):
      We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ôstarmânoth is found as early as Eginhart (temp. Car. Mag.). The great christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the oldest of OHG remains the name ôstarâ … it is mostly found in the plural, because two days … were kept at Easter. This Ostarâ, like the [Anglo-Saxon] Eástre, must in heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the christian teachers tolerated the name, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries.(Teutonic Mythology: Translated from the Fourth Edition with Notes and Appendix Vol. I. London: George Bell and Sons.)

  6. Jerry Christensen

    It’s also interesting to place the Easter/Passover discussion along side of discussion of the akidah (Abraham’s aborted sacrifice of Isaac). If I’m not mistaken, tradition holds that the Holy of Holies rested on the very rock that Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Isaac on. It says that Abraham bound Isaac. Given Abraham’s age, Isaac would have to be a submissive participant. When touring the old city of Jerusalem, I was amazed by the proximity of all the holy sites (traditional, but not necessarily real). So, the angel stays Abraham’s hand preventing Isaac’s sacrifice. Off in the distance, Abraham hears the bleating of a sheep. Curiosity begs – was the location of that sheep (that God would provide – Jehovah Jireh) on the site that would later become Golgotha? Jesus was a submissive participant. A sacrifice that God would provide.

    I am blessed each year to be a guest at my Jewish friend’s passover seder. I understand that the formalization of the passover seder was just beginning to be developed at the time of Jesus. I’ve wondered what similarities there were with today’s seder and the “last supper” Jesus led.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      The Scripture is full of connections like the one you are suggesting. However, in seeking to determine, we must be very careful not to take something that “will preach” for something that is inherent in the text or in the story.

  7. Natalia Aída Lucila Zambrano Barnes

    Very interesting theese articles about the New Testament and its relationship with the Tanak.I learned to love jewish people by knowing Jeshua in my evangelical church.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Natalia, we are glad to have you as a part of our study group.

  8. Benjamin Cook

    I checked the aramaic word for passover, it is pascha not easter.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Of course. Its the same holiday that eventually was transformed beyond recognition and became what is known today as Easter.

  9. Mary Yeh

    I enjoy your presentation with accuracy. It seems Christianity has been hellbent to separate roots from the Jewish Feasts setup by God Himself. The Dark Powers in the heavenlies to kill everything of Truth and Light, the warfare that is bloody would destroy God’s choice of people, Land, and Feasts!

    Hardly any Christians talk about the Feasts that I know. Only ones who really really want to know what Jesus is all about and not superficially what religion teaches. Those ones are few and far between.

    Passover is a clear picture of Jesus as the Lamb for us to stay clear of the judgment upon the world (Egypt with the firstborn which is nothing but Adam) by the Angel of Death. Adam was the firstborn for the world that progressively runs further and further away from God as revealed in Genesis. Jesus is now the New Adam! Personally, I am separating under the Blood of this designated Lamb to eat and cover my doorposts daily!

    I remember when I was 10 years old reading the World Book Encyclopedia, an article on Easter. It exposed how purely pagan things are mixed up with the Passover and the Resurrection of Christ Jesus celebrating Easter! It shook my faith to realize the manmade lies mixed in the dough of making the unleavened bread, Jesus. A little leaven spoils the whole lump! Though raised Roman Catholic, I am now only marked as a Christ-man, no denomination, but only as “the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch Christians.” Acts 11:26 (From Young’s Literal Translation).

    Your explanations clear the air of the mixture and how it was brought in by Christianity not staying true with God’s silver thread of salvation for the Jews and lastly, the Gentiles. Keep digging out the truth from centuries of misleadings by those who have not been faithful to God’s Word. I love your language definitions, revealing what the words really mean in all those different languages (Hebrew,Syriac/Aramaic). I am adding to my memory bank of words as my own. I am looking more to this Passover that Jesus actually observed, especially this new subject of versus the Passover of Samaritans. I believe this is waking up the reality of the meaning of John to us from it’s Jewish meanings.

  10. Steven Kahne

    Dr. Eli,
    Is it also true that the day of Jesus’ resurrection (the Christian Pascha) as celebrated on the first day of the week after the Sabbath after Pesach (Lev 23:9,15), is known as the Feast of First Fruits? Therefore, Jesus’ was the first fruits of more to come later as Paul testified in I Cor 15:20,23. I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

    1. frederick ellis

      I really appreciate your exposition on the topic of easter as a christian i wonder here we got the word easter from i knew the significances of passover to my christian faith and belief, but i always struggled as how the word “Pascha”(Easter came about. Syriac/Aramic translation thank you very much.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        Frederick, shalom! You are most welcome. Thank you for your comment.

      2. Robert Mesnard

        I appreciate your article and its timeliness as well as our edification. As to the origin of the word “Easter”, I believe it comes from the birthday celebration of the goddess Ishtar. Christians turned that into a Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It would be more appropriate to refer to it as Resurrection Day than Easter, but the tradition would be hard to break.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Robert, shalom. Thanks for your comment. As I mentioned in many many countries Easter is refered to as Christian Passover. Your suggestion of Ressurection Day is a very good ulternative. Make sure that you are on my weekly teaching list. It will be well worth your time. Blessings, Dr. Eli