‘Easter is rightly called the Queen of Feasts. Like a queen she reigns over every other event in world history. Like a queen she reigns supreme over every other feast in the Christian year. Yet, to understand her greatness, we must see how all that went before is fulfilled in her, and how she is a new beginning for all future time. Easter is the completion of a great mystery: she is the beginning of a mystery as great.
It would be easier for us to remember the true meaning of the feast if its name were derived directly from the Hebrew Pasch, as is the English Passover and the French Pâques. For Easter is the Christian Pasch, or Passover.
… The Passover feast of the Jews commemorated the events which accompanied the “passing over” of their forefathers from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of Palestine. The “passing over” had started with a meal for which a lamb without blemish had been slain without a bone of its body being broken; its blood had been sprinkled on the door-posts of their houses so that the angel of death might pass over them; and the lamb had been eaten. Then had followed many signs of God's special care for them: the safe crossing of the waters of the Red Sea which had drowned Pharaoh and the Egyptians; the light guiding them by night; the manna feeding them in the desert; until they eventually reached the land of promise.
So God brought forth his Chosen People from slavery to freedom. But the events which accompanied the Exodus from Egypt not only sealed the Israelites as the Chosen People of God; they were also a kind of rehearsal for the way in which God would eventually redeem mankind as a whole, and each individual as an individual. It was as if God allowed the shadow to appear centuries before, so that when the reality came it might be recognised. Christ was the reality of which these events were the shadow. He was the true Lamb, slain without a bone of his body being broken. His blood was shed and sprinkled so that the angel of death might pass over his people dying in sin. As the Israelites had passed through the Red Sea from death to life, so Christ passed through the sepulchre from death to life. As the enemies of the Israelites had been drowned in the waters of the Red Sea, so by his death Christ destroyed the enemies of mankind, sin and death. Christ is the true light, lighting man through the darkness of this world. He is the true manna, giving his body and blood to be the food of man in the wilderness of this life.
So we have a second Passover: the passing over of Jesus Christ from death to life, fulfilling the pattern of the ancient passing over of the Jews from Egypt to Palestine. So was the first Easter Day the completion of a great mystery.
But it was the beginning of a mystery as great. For Christ passed over from death to life so that each human soul might pass over from death in sin to eternal life. The events of the Exodus were not only a rehearsal for Christ's passing over; they were also a rehearsal for each individual soul's passing over. Born in captivity to sin, man passes through the waters, not of the Red Sea, but of Baptism, his soul cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God. Christ is the light and the food of his soul, leading him through the wilderness of this life to the promised land of heaven’.
from Holy Week and Easter: The Services Explained, 1956, by E J Rowland
Fr Lee Kenyon