He is Risen: The Resurrection and the Harvest
As most Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Resurrection Day in less than 2 weeks, in the midst of a global health crisis, Believers everywhere are left wrestling with difficult questions. What do my family traditions look like if I can't be with my family? How do we honor important holidays for the Church without going to Church? How is my household making Jesus, Yeshua, the center of our choices on the day celebrating His Resurrection?
There are a few key pieces the Bible gives us that will not only help to decide which elements are most important and how we teach our children about Christ, but may also give our families new insight and understanding as to what we celebrate and why.
An important note: As I get into this, don't skip out if you find something you haven't heard before or if it sounds like something you HAVE heard before that you didn't like. There may be a new take or some new information here that was worth reading to the end, because we are all just trying to get to better know our Savior. (Plus my favorite part is at the end!)
Let's start with an obvious one: Why do we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on this Sunday (the first day of the week) in the Spring? With the pandemic affecting so much of the world, why can't we just pick a day in the Summer to keep this holiday? Everyone knows the story from their earliest Sunday school days of when Jesus came out of the tomb late the night before and then His Resurrection was revealed to His followers at sunrise, but why was it this specific day? There are 2 reasons, one you are probably familiar with and one that you may not be.
The first reason it was this specific Spring day, which most people have heard taught or have read in their Bible, is that His Resurrection was 3 days and 3 nights (the sign of Jonah) after Passover. Because Yeshua our Messiah, the Lamb of God and the One Who takes away the sin of the world, IS our Passover and it was on that day He was crucified. Anyone is welcome to comment or contact me if they would like a more comprehensive list of verses from the Gospel accounts placing the crucifixion at Passover, but what I want to point out is that Paul believed this and instructed us thus:
I Corinthians 5:6-8 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old leaven, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened—for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. Therefore let us continue to celebrate the Feast, not with old leaven, the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
It's not just that Jesus fulfilled Passover, He WAS the Passover. That is very significant. Let me ask you a question: Before Christ, how did people come into Covenant with the God of Israel? Was it only the people born in Israel? No, we have the mixed multitude in Egypt. We have Ruth, and the Ethiopian eunuch. So, was it enough to just come and live with the people? That is also a no, because we have LOTS of scripture talking about the people with and around the Israelites who were not in Covenant with their God. So what did they have to do?
Answer: They had to partake of the Passover.
In Exodus 12:47-48, Israel is instructed that anyone who would sanctify themselves and eat of the Passover Lamb would become just like someone who was native-born, a citizen of Israel and part of the Covenant with Yahweh (יְהוָה֙, "The LORD" in many Bibles). With Messiah, nothing changed about that! Didn't Yeshua say that we must "eat of His flesh" to possess everlasting life, much to the consternation of the Pharisees?
John 6:54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
This is because "Messiah our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us." When we sanctify ourselves through the circumcision of our heart and receive Messiah, we enter into Covenant through Him, a Covenant with the promise of eternal life.
There are a thousand amazing ways that Yeshua perfectly fulfilled all the intricate details of Passover, the discussion of which is for another day and another post (or this one would be too long to read!) Suffice it to say, EVERYTHING He did had precise prophetic significance, from when He rode the donkey into Jerusalem to when He was brought to the tomb. So, the Resurrection and the day we celebrate it is tied directly to Passover—and this year, if you check your calendars or happen to search it on Google, Passover falls neatly into the week before just as it would have the year of Christ's actual death and Resurrection.
This brings us to one of my very FAVORITE parts of the Resurrection story, the Biblical reason for the importance of the Sunday after Passover.
This is the part that you may not have heard before! What is it about this day of all days that caused God to choose it for His only begotten Son to ascend before Him? Check this out, a command given to immediately follow Passover:
Leviticus 23:9-11 Adonai spoke to Moses saying: “Speak to the Children of Israel and tell them: When you have come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you are to bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the Priest. He is to wave the sheaf before Adonai, to be accepted on your behalf. On the morrow after the Sabbath, the Priest is to wave it."
On the morning after the Sabbath (Saturday), the Priest is to bring the First Fruits offering before Yahweh to be accepted ON BEHALF of the people. And Who was accepted before the Father on OUR behalf? This day is called the day of First Fruits, which in Hebrew is Yom Ha Reshiyth, or the Reshiyth (רֵאשִׁ֥ית) offering. Does that word "First Fruits" ring a bell?
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also has come through a Man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah will all be made alive. But each in its own order: Messiah the firstfruits; then, at His coming, those who belong to Messiah.
This is not just a simple turn of phrase from Paul, but rather exactly like the previous verses describing Christ as our Passover in chapter 5. Here in chapter 15, he is explaining the significance of Jesus' Resurrection on the day of First Fruits, as the literal "first fruit" of the Resurrection offered to all who would belong to Him.
The importance of this word and this day goes even further. Pardon me for saying so, but much farther than a leap any "bunny" could hope to make. This word goes all the way back to Creation, and to the very identity of our Messiah.
John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being.
There is an amazing study tool, by which it is possible to take the Greek words available to us in the New Testament, and compare them to their Hebrew equivalents in a translation called the Septuagint. This passage in John, on which we can base the Divine Nature of Christ, uses the Greek word "arche" for "the beginning". The Septuagint uses this same word "arche" for the underlined words in this passage you may have heard once or twice:
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Wondering what the original Hebrew word is there? It's RESHIYTH. When John says that Yeshua, as the Word, was "in the beginning," He quite literally WAS "the beginning." Let me break that down for you.
Jesus = The "firstfruits" of the Resurrection, and was resurrected on the Day of First Fruits. He ascended before the Father on our behalf in Heaven at the exact time the "firstfruits" offering was presented before the Father on our behalf on earth.
"firstfruits" = Reshiyth
"the beginning" = Arche = Reshiyth
Jesus = Reshiyth
Messiah was not just "in the beginning as the Word." He was the literal FIRST WORD of your Bible. The First Fruit of all Creation. When it says "all things where made through Him," it is because the very first thing we are told about the universe in scripture is "In Reshiyth God created the heavens and the earth."
The coolest part about all of this is that there is a Sunday called Resurrection Day you have been celebrating thinking it became important AFTER Christ was Risen, that God set apart from the very beginning! It didn't become special because Jesus was revealed alive and ascended to Heaven... Jesus was revealed alive and ascended to Heaven because the day was already special and appointed for Him! God gave this day for His people, not just to celebrate the goodness and blessing of their personal harvest, but as a celebration throughout all of history for the Great Harvest He would accomplish for His people, for all people, through the First Fruit of the Resurrection in Yeshua our Messiah.
So as we all stand in faith and prayer regarding the modern day "plague" our world is facing, our individual households and families will be trying our best to have truly Bible-centered holidays and Christ-focused traditions, most of us without the gatherings and events we are used to. If you have never looked into the Biblical days Paul taught about in connection to the Resurrection, maybe this is the year to do it. Maybe find some new ways to celebrate the things Jesus and His Disciples were doing and teaching. Even though we aren't in Egypt or Jerusalem, God has certainly gotten our family's attention enough that we will have "The Blood of the Lamb" written above our door this year. Passover and First Fruits aren't just "Jewish" things, they are Bible things, New Testament things, and they are all about Christ and what He accomplished for you.
All Scripture quotes from the TLV translation.