It was the first full moon of spring when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites, sparing them from the tenth plague of Egypt. While the Pharos’ people suffered, his slaves fled to freedom in such haste that they didn’t have time for the yeast to rise to make their bread. Ever since, the Jewish people celebrate their deliverance from bondage by a traditional Seder meal with unleavened bread coinciding with the first full moon of spring. In Jerusalem there’s a festival that Jewish men are obligated to make a pilgrimage to attend. Those not able to make the journey finish their Seder meal proclaiming “Next year in Jerusalem!”
Riding into Jerusalem’s Passover festival on a donkey in the Hebrew year 3793, the Prince of Peace was met with the reception of a king as people laid down palms in front of his path. The high priests declared blasphemy and admonished the Roman consul to execute the perpetrator. His wife famously told Pontius Pilate to have “nothing to do with that righteous man.” He tried to convince the mob to free Jesus of Nazareth but they demanded to free Barabbas, the true criminal instead.
Celebrating the Seder with His apostles, Jesus demonstrated His humility by washing their feet. Peter objected and was told he is not clean. Jesus knew His dear friend was going to betray him three times and he knew another friend, Judas, would give Him the kiss of death. Before the Centurions arrived to take Him away, Jesus commanded His followers to “love one another as I have loved you.”
His prayer to be spared the brutal execution went unanswered, and He gave us all the starkest example of life’s suffering. Carrying the cross to His execution, the mob jeered and only a few helped. His death was marked by darkness falling upon the land when followers quickly placed His destroyed body in a cave to be properly embalmed after the Sabbath.
That’s when His friends returned to the astonishment of the Resurrection. The tomb was open and Jesus was gone. He appeared over coming weeks and even encouraged Thomas to inspect His wounds, proving He had truly defeated death.
Billions of people in the centuries since have set out to follow His example of loving one another as we struggle to carry our own crosses. With faith in something better to follow our time on earth, most religions teach us to live virtuously to earn the ultimate reward of eternal bliss. For these and so many reasons, spring is a time of renewal and rebirth for people of all faiths. Wishing you all the hope of the season, happy Passover, happy Holy Week and happy spring!