The week of Christ’s death and resurrection included several notable events that converged over 2000 years ago in first-century Palestine.
In the days leading up to His crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the annual Passover meal with His disciples. The yearly Passover, still celebrated today, commemorates the first Passover in Egypt when God instructed Moses to have each family sacrifice a lamb and place its blood over the doorposts, protecting the Hebrew firstborn sons from the plague of death. Since we believe God is intentional and perfect in His timing, we can see how the symbolism of Passover displayed Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb, with His blood poured out to save us from death.
The first-century culture exalted money, leadership, and title. Foot washing was among the lowliest of a servant’s assignments, yet Jesus washed His disciples’ feet to show His call to a different type of leadership, one of humility and service. He called them to think, live, and lead differently, “. . . even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28 ESV)
Hours later, the grueling circumstances of the trial and physical beatings Jesus endured fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies and ultimately led Him to the cross. These universe-shifting events led into the weekly observance of the Sabbath. Afterward, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and others discovered Jesus had risen from the dead! Scholars suggest that after Jesus’ ascension, the church began corporately worshiping on Sundays since Jesus’ victory over the grave occurred on the first day of the week. Resurrection Sunday shifted the church’s focus and celebration, gathering them together on a day that acknowledged and celebrated Jesus’ conquering death and the grave!
Easter may seem relatively secular in our culture, but Christ-followers rejoice in this most significant of all celebrations! Resurrection Sunday celebrates the gift of salvation, the promise of victory over death, and the cherished hope that we will one day rise to spend eternity with Jesus.
May the meaningful symbols and celebrations bring you ever deeper into the knowledge and joy of Jesus’ resurrection. We have eternity to rejoice in His unfathomable gift of new life, new beginnings, and the hope through Him of our triumph over the grave.