By The Right Reverend Father Michael D. Jordan

The Eastern Orthodox Christian Church refers to "Easter" as Pascha, which means Passover. You will usually never hear Pascha referred to as "Easter" by any seasoned Eastern Orthodox Christian, because first of all "Easter" is more-or-less pagan terminology. To the Jewish people the Passover is a very holy time, it symbolized their freedom from slavery under Pharaoh. The Passover was a plague that was sent upon Egypt because Pharaoh refused to let the Jewish people go. The following Scripture from the Old Testament Book of Exodus details the events of the first Passover:

Exodus Chapter 12:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: 4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remains of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."

  Exodus Chapter 12:21 "Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the Passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you."

 Exodus 12:27 "That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also."

  Numbers Chapter 9:9 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto the LORD. 11 The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it."

 Deuteronomy Chapter 16:5 "Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: 6 But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

  I wanted you to hear these readings from the Old Testament Scripture in order to point out to you just how many things concerning the Passover predict the Ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, which at the time these Scriptures were written, was far into the future.

The first detail would be the bondage of the Lordís people. The Jewish people were slaves to Pharaoh, we were slaves to sin and death. Before Jesus Christ came into the world, death had power over people, it often meant a second death, or condemnation in a place called Gehenna in the Jewish language. God sent a plague upon the evil Pharaoh, and in order for the Jewish people to be spared from the plague, they needed to sacrifice a lamb. Not only were they to sacrifice it, but not a bone of the lamb could be broken. The blood of the lamb was to be painted in three places on their doorways with hyssop. They were to consume the lamb, leaving none of it by morning. When the angel of death passed through the city, if he saw the lambís blood on the door of a home, he would not enter, and pass over the home, sparing it from death.

Christ came into the world, as the, Only-Begotten, Son of God. He was without blemish, as the Passover lamb was supposed to be. At the Baptism of Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity was made manifest. God the Father in Heaven bore witness to the Son, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus Christ like a dove. The Jewish people were instructed to paint three places with the blood of the Passover lamb on their door to identify themselves as belonging to God. One across the beam over the top of the door, and one on either side of the door. The place above the door symbolized God the Father in Heaven, the two on either side of the doorway represented both the two natures of Jesus Christ, God and Man, and also represented the Only-Begotten Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, Who would both dwell among Godís people in future days to come.

We are reminded of the slaughter of all the young children in Bethlehem at the request of King Herod, another evil ruler in history, by the deaths of all of the first born among the Egyptians. The majority of the similarities have to do with the Good Friday events, when Jesus Christ actually become the slain Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of His people. On the day Jesus Christ was crucified, He was given vinegar mixed with bitter gall to drink, on hyssop. Hyssop was used to brush the blood of the lamb over the Jewish peopleís doorways. The lamb they roasted was roasted with bitter herbs. This is confirmed in the Gospel according to St. John Chapter 1:28 "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."

The Jewish priests and elders went to Pilate and asked that the bones of the prisoners be broken so that they would die quickly because their Sabbath was beginning. When they approached Jesus Christ, they discovered that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. This was fulfilling Scripture which said not a bone of Him shall be broken. Also, Godís requirements for the Passover lamb was that not a bone of the lamb shall be broken. Which is confirmed in the Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 1:31 "The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knows that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Golgotha, where Jesus Christ was crucified was not within the gates of the city, but outside the gates of the city. God commanded that the Passover lamb be not sacrificed within the walls of the city, but outside the gates of the city. As the angel of death descended even into the dungeon, the Son of God, Jesus Christ descended into Hell to redeem those who were there, and to curse it forever for Satan and his followers.

Every Sunday in the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God is offered to the faithful as the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Communion; making every Sunday a feast of the Passover. By receiving the Blood of Jesus Christ we paint the doorways of our hearts with the blood of the Lamb of God, slain and sacrificed for our sins and transgressions. By partaking of this Holy Passover Supper, we receive the Grace of God, then the chains of our slavery to sin and death are broken, we are set free on our journey toward the Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heaven. This is why we call "Easter" Pascha, and it is truly our Christian Passover. These similarities are also the reason that Jesus Christ is called the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. This is said during the Doxology every Sunday morning. This is confirmed in the Gospel according to St. John, Chapter 1:29 "The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." Now you know why, and what all this means.