As the Christian world celebrates the resurrection of Christ this Easter Sunday, let us not forget our Jewish brothers and sisters who this same day celebrate Yom Bikkerim (The Feast of Firstfruits). What is the connection of this Jewish Feast and the Christian celebration of Easter? Is there something we can learn from this ancient holiday?
We find the command God gave His people to celebrate seven specific feasts or festivals in Leviticus 23. The third holiday given was the Feast of Firstfruits which was to be held the Sunday after the Sabbath following Passover, which just happens to be today. So what is the significance of this holiday?
The Feast of Firstfruits was a celebration where the people would bring God the very first heads of the grain harvest. It was their way of saying “This is all we have, we give it to you and trust you for the rest”. It is a kind of faith promise. This holiday was closely associated with Passover and Unleavened Bread, which happen just a few days prior.
In the days prior to Jesus’ crucifixion Jesus was preparing for the Passover celebration in which he would be offered as fulfillment of the Passover lamb. He was buried on unleavened bread, as the nation was praying for bread, or life out of the earth. On that year we believe Passover was on Friday, Unleavend Bread on Saturday and Firstfruits on Sunday. Which means that Jesus was raised on the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits. Jesus was the fulfillment of this holiday. He was raised from the dead as God’s faith promise to us that one day we too would be resurrected.
Paul says it this way in First Corinthians 15:20-23:
But Christ has indeed 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 comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
So as we celebrate the resurrected Christ today, let us remember that His resurrection is the fulfillment of the ancient feast God gave his people and a promise of the harvest to come.
He Is Risen!