THE SHADOW KNOWS
I believe (and so does my Catholic Defender brother Donald) that we know with an extreme level of certitude that we know the actual dates of that first Easter. We believe the case is beyond overwhelming that Jesus died on the Cross on Friday, April 3rd, 33 AD, that He fulfilled the Sabbath by resting in the tomb on Saturday, April 4th and that He rose from the dead, searing the fabric of the sacred shroud on Sunday, April 5th. There was an ancient tradition that suggests March 25th but the evidence makes that date untenable.
Yet, a curiosity arises. If historical tradition establishes so well, the date of His birth so well that we celebrate it on a fixed day, why do we not commemorate the date of His passion and death on April 3rd every year or, for argument's sake, March 25th? Unlike Christmas, affixed to the same date in our Gregorian calendar, Good Friday and Easter chase the movements of the Jewish Passover must like a running child chasing his shadow. Why?
The shadow knows.
Just as the light of the sun behind us casts a shadow before us, the light of the Risen Son is seen by the shadow cast by Passover. In order to see Easter and Passover conjoined, they must be yoked together. Easter is the much bigger fulfillment of what the Passover shadow projects.
That is not that Passover was a small thing by any means. Hundreds of thousands of people freed by the blood of the lamb on the cross shape of the door post and lentil. Thousands passed over by death and led through the waters of the Red Sea. This was no small thing.
Yet, the blood spilled on the door was nothing compared to the Sacred blood shed on the Cross. The destroyer that sought the first born in the seventh plague was nothing in comparison to the death Jesus freed us from. The parting of the Red Sea is but a drop to the Graces of the Blood and Water that gushed forth from the heart of Jesus. Less still in comparison to Baptism that has redeemed countless millions.
Yet, we need the shadow to understand the fulfillment. Without the blood of the lamb, we cannot escape the destroyer's plague. Without faith, we cannot escape our chains and bondage. Without the Graces stirring the waters, we cannot pass through.
I have often contemplated what it was like to be trapped between a raging sea and approaching chariots. I have experienced these types of fears in my life. I'm sure you have to. Who is your hope?
The shadow of the Passover tells us both who is the avenging Judge and the merciful Savior. By blood, He makes makes the waters of the wicked bitter and undrinkable and by blood He makes the life-giving water of Baptism Sacred. In the same way, Plagues and pandemics can be both punishments for the wicked and purification for those who can still be saved. On this Easter day, we are seeing this.
We do not have these two seasons attached to remember what Passover was but to remember what Easter Is. Passing over from death to life.
A number of years ago, a song came out called "Don't pay the ferryman" The song was based on a mythical ferryman who guided the ferry over the stormy seas of the river Styx. The river that surrounded hell. That's a river you really want to get across. The ferryman you pay is who you trust to deliver you from that hell. Payment is made when you get to the other side. He gets you there by that blood and by that parting sea. He gets you there by Good Friday and Easter.
Don't pay the ferryman until He gets you to the other side means do not allow life's storms- no matter how fierce- to cause you to squander the price of passage. The Bible says we will reign with Him if we suffer with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). That's your price of passage. If you are paying a lesser price to a different ferryman, you have been duped and you aren't going to make it to the other side.
The song is eerily similar to the message of Passover and the long journey across the desert and through the sea to the promised land. Even more similar is it to the escape from the bondage of sin, across the desert of suffering, through the waters of baptism, to that ultimate promised land- Heaven.
Passover Foreshadowed it, Easter secured it, we cooperate with it until we pass from the shadow to the Son.