Question: "What is Pascha?"
Answer: Pascha comes from both the Greek and Latin words for “Easter,” the holiday that celebrates the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The verbal form of this word, pascho in Greek, means “to suffer.” Originally, the Hebrew word pasach referred to the Passover feast (Exodus 12) that was celebrated during the same week Jesus was crucified. In the Jewish tradition, Passover is 8 days long, beginning Nissan 15, to celebrate the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
Different religious traditions celebrate Easter at different times. The Western Church (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) celebrates Pascha or Easter on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal full moon of that year. This Paschal full moon is based on historical tables rather than lunar events. Easter always falls on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. The Orthodox (Eastern) Church bases their Easter on a Julian calendar that they claim follows the ruling of the Council of Nicea.
Interestingly, in one passage of the New Testament, the apostle Paul refers to Jesus as “Christ our pascha Lamb” or “Passover Lamb.” First Corinthians 5:7 reads, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” During the Jewish Passover, a spotless lamb was killed at sundown and roasted as a meal for the family in the home. At the first Passover, the Lord required that blood from the lamb be marked on the sides and top of the door of each Jewish family’s home.
In the New Testament, Jesus became the sacrificial lamb of Passover, which represented freedom and salvation for God’s people. In fact, some have observed that the blood on the posts and lintel of the door can be connected to form a cross. The cross has become the “door” that provides salvation for believers and causes death to “pass over” them.
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