There are many churches in the world that say they believe in God. However, only the Church of God celebrates the feast of the New Covenant Passover, which contains the promise of salvation.
As the Bible says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6), many people do not understand the Bible correctly and regard the Passover as something trivial and unnecessary. They think that the Kingdom of Heaven will be given to them automatically if they just believe in God. Through the words of the Bible, let us study about the meaning of the Passover to discern truth from falsehood.
When Jesus came 2,000 years ago, the religious leaders of that time not only failed to follow God’s teachings but also led many people astray.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”Mt 23:13
At that time, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the religious leaders. As spiritual leaders, they were supposed to lead people to Heaven, but instead they shut the gates of Heaven in people’s faces while they themselves did not enter. Jesus sternly rebuked them for blocking the way to Heaven.
The end result for those who prevent people from entering Heaven is obvious; Jesus repeatedly warned them about this matter.
“. . . You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”Mt 23:32–33
Jesus also likened the Pharisees and the teachers of the law to whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In other words, the religious leaders appeared righteous outwardly, but inwardly they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Mt 23:27–28).
Those who block people from entering Heaven, using deception, will never escape the judgment of hell. The Bible vividly describes the scene where they are rejected at the gates of Heaven, although they wish to enter.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers [you who practice lawlessness, NASB]!’ ”Mt 7:21–23
Not everyone who calls out to God, “Lord, Lord,” can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of God.
Are those who shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces the ones who do the will of God? Not at all. Although they have prophesied in the name of the Lord, Jesus says that they are the lawless ones.
Let us consider whether celebrating the Passover is God’s will or not. According to Jesus, only those who do the will of God can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, we need to be certain that the Passover is God’s will. Let us confirm the testimonies regarding the Passover in the New Testament.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” . . . They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”Lk 22:7–15
Jesus sent His beloved disciples, Peter and John, to make preparations for the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus sat down and said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover.” It would have been enough for Him to say, “I have desired it,” but He said, “I have eagerly desired it.” Through this, we can see how eagerly and earnestly Jesus must have wanted to keep the Passover.
In this way, the Passover was celebrated according to Jesus’ earnest will and desire. At the Holy Supper of the Passover, Jesus made a covenant with His disciples as follows:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”Lk 22:19–20
While celebrating the Passover, Jesus took bread and gave it to His disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Then He took the cup containing the Passover wine and gave it to them, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
God came to earth and established the Passover as a sacred law, decree, and regulation to save mankind through His precious flesh and blood. We can clearly confirm that the Passover is the will of God through the Gospel of Matthew.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.Mt 26:17–19
Jesus said that He Himself would keep the Passover and directed the disciples to prepare for it. Everything Jesus did was an example for us (Jn 13:15). The four Gospels record Jesus’ ministry; they repeatedly depict the scene of Jesus celebrating the Passover with His disciples. It is to show us the will of God for us to keep the Passover, following His example.
Through the Bible, we can see that celebrating the New Covenant Passover is Jesus’ will that is God’s will. Since only the one who does the will of God can enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who celebrate the Passover can enter Heaven.
Then, how does the Passover open the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven? Let us see what blessing is contained in the Passover.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”Jn 6:53–58
Jesus said that unless we eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, we have no life in us and that whoever eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life. The Passover bread and wine has an important meaning; the bread symbolizes His flesh and the wine His blood. So, those who refuse to celebrate the Passover cannot have eternal life, even though they are physically alive on earth.
Since Heaven is a place without death, only those who have eternal life can enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Rev 21:1–4). Therefore, the Passover, which grants the promise of eternal life, is the key that opens the gates of Heaven.
Ever since the time of Moses—3,500 years ago, God has commanded His people to keep the Feast of the Passover. Then, why has God commanded that the Passover be observed with all its rules and regulations in both the Old and New Testament times? It is because without observing the Passover, no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.1 Co 11:23–26
The Apostle Paul passed on to the saints what he received from the Lord Jesus. In keeping with Jesus’ request, Paul taught them about the ceremony of the Passover and urged them to keep it until the coming of the Lord. Therefore, the Passover is not a teaching that can be neglected; it is a law of life that must be kept until the end of the age.
Despite all the evidence, isn’t it quite surprising that no church celebrates the Passover today, except for the Church of God? In opposition to God, Satan has been devising all kinds of crafty schemes to abolish this truth of life (Da 7:25). From the second century (nearly 100 years after Jesus’ ascension) until now, Satan has hindered the truth of the Passover which is the key that opens the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.
After the Apostolic Age, the early Church was divided in two: the Eastern Church centered in Jerusalem and Asia Minor, and the Western Church centered in Rome. A controversy arose between the church in Rome, which had been celebrating Communion on Easter, and the Eastern Church that had been holding the Holy Supper on the Passover. The first controversy occurred around A.D. 155, between Polycarp, the bishop of the church in Smyrna, representing the East, and Anicetus, the bishop of the church in Rome, representing the West. The Western Church insisted on abolishing the Passover, which was celebrated on the 14th of Nisan (the first month in the sacred calendar), and replacing the Passover with the celebration of Communion on Easter. Polycarp, who was personally taught by the Apostle John (one of the Twelve), strongly opposed the idea of abolishing the Passover and instituting Easter.
After failing to reach an agreement over the Passover (Pascha) in the first controversy, the Eastern and Western Churches clashed once again in A.D. 197. Victor, the bishop of the church in Rome, forced all the churches to follow the Dominical Rule—celebrating Communion on Easter, the Sunday following the Passover. Polycrates, the bishop of the church in Ephesus, and all the other Eastern Churches strongly rejected it, saying they should celebrate the Passover just as the apostles did.
Due to Satan’s crafty schemes, the power of lawlessness gradually became stronger. At the Council of Nicaea, convened by the Roman Emperor Constantine in A.D. 325, it was decided that the Holy Communion should be celebrated on Easter. Even though the Passover and Easter are completely different, Satan cunningly abolished the Passover by connecting the two feasts to confuse people into thinking they were one and the same.
After the Passover was abolished, the promise of eternal life was hidden for over 1,600 years and no one could enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Churches today do not observe the Passover but follow the doctrines that have been changed. According to the prophecies of the Bible, Jesus came to earth a second time and restored the New Covenant Passover; the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven, which were closed, have now been opened once again.
The truth of the New Covenant can only be established by God. Jesus established the New Covenant on the night of the Passover, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” In the Old Testament book of Jeremiah written about 600 years before Chlrist, it was already prophesied that God would establish a new covenant.
“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. . . . This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD Almighty is his name: Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.”Jer 31:31–36
For those who have God’s law written on their hearts, God declared that He would be their God and they would be His people. This means that only those who keep the law of the New Covenant Passover can be God’s people. God also promised to forgive all their wickedness and sins. Just as God has definitely appointed the sun to shine by day and the moon and stars to shine by night, the promise of the New Covenant can never be changed.
When the gates of Heaven are opened through the New Covenant Passover, God will check to see whether or not we have His holy flesh and blood. Just as the members of a family can be verified through a DNA test, so those who keep the Passover will be verified as God’s children and will pass through the gates of Heaven. However, those who reject the Passover will never be acknowledged as God’s children, because they do not have God’s flesh and blood in them.
Today, there are numerous churches in the word, but many Christians do not understand God’s will, nor do they know how God grants eternal life. Two thousand years ago, many claimed to believe in God while rejecting Jesus and His teachings; it is the same now. It is truly unfortunate that so many people who claim to believe in Jesus do not celebrate the Passover, which contains God’s profound will.
To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we need to find and attend the church with the truth of the New Covenant which God Himself established. Brothers and sisters in Zion! By understanding the grace of God contained in the Passover, let us boldly preach the New Covenant Passover—the truth of life—to all who have yet to realize it.