By Shawn Dean
Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar is one, if not the, most important date in all Biblical history. On this day, the sprinkled blood of many unblemished lamb on the doorposts and the lintels of Jewish homes must have made the Egyptians wonder what could possibly be next. The answer came in the form of terror for those who weren’t passed over, and joy for those who were. The dramatic departure of God’s people was foreshadowing of the greater event—the death of our own unblemished lamb purchasing our pass over on yet another Nisan 14. The original Passover and the death of Christ were exclusively selected for this one day, Nisan 14.
Time waters down the drama that must have been this day, a day with extremes. Death, mourning, blood, hope, and joy all expressed simultaneously depending on which God one served. Every firstborn of Egypt died that day while they watched the Israelites exit with their possessions. They buried their dead while God’s people made their way—weighed down with treasure—to the Red Sea. If there was ever any question about who God favored, the line was clearly drawn.
No time in history could be more infused with prophecy and the manifestation of spiritual things into the natural realm than the crucifixion of the King of Kings. The eyes of all heaven and hell fixated on that cross while His blood saturated the earth, which shook under its weight when the last drop descended and the last breath was breathed. The death of the firstborn of Egypt was preceded by grief; the death of the firstborn of the Father was preceded by an eternal, raucous applause. Both dates marked with blood the victory in God’s own sacrifice.
That’s Nisan 14, Passover, the day we call Easter. It’s a name given to us by a generation long ago that somehow managed to mix a Roman festival to the Babylonian idol Ishtar (Eastre), with a day we Christians and Jews memorialize as one of the greatest days in the history of life. Mathematicians and theologians hotly argued the exact time that this celebration was to occur, so it’s been a moving target almost from its inception. And, still to this day some are proposing a reformation of the time table. Many cultures hold different opinions on it, but here in the West, we chose to fall in agreement with the 325CE Council of Nicaea. It held that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox, with an addendum that a one-week delay would be instituted if the full moon fell on Sunday, and therefore decreasing the likelihood of it falling on the same day as the Jewish Passover. Good grief.
Back in the day when the hair ran long and testosterone levels ran high, all I wanted to know was when Mardi Gras started and how I could get to New Orleans by Fat Tuesday. Easter egg hunts, new church shoes, and button downs got traded in for beads and draft beer. It was a whole lot more interesting than sitting around talking about a bloody lamb with pressed pants and a fake smile. The day I saw my youth Pastor two fisting Bud Lights at the Cherokee sealed the deal for me, until time ran its course.
I have three daughters and in the midst of the dress buying, and the ribbon tying, and the Easter egg hunt with the matching baskets, Easter gets lost with me on our prescribed Sunday morning. The service and the songs are different but not altogether. I know the relevance, but I can’t seem to live in the magnitude of the moment. But, when the pretty stuff is put away and the dyed eggs find the trash, it’s back to the nitty-gritty again. That’s when I need the blood, nothing but the blood, the blood that was shed on Nisan 14—the real Easter. Thank you, Jesus.