Have you ever wondered why Filipinos translate “Christmas” as “Pasko” or in Hiligaynon/Ilonggo as “Paskwa”? The word “Paskwa” comes from the Spanish word “Pascua” and from the Latin word “Pascha”. In Hebrew it is “Pesakh” which is translated in English as “Passover”. This means that when we celebrate Christmas we are celebrating the birth of the Paschal (Passover) Lamb.
What does it mean that Jesus is our “Paskwa”?
First, Jesus as our “Paskwa” means that we must celebrate our passing over from death to life.
In the Old Testament, Moses started the ritual of slaughtering a Passover Lamb every year to commemorate the passing over of the Angel of Death in their houses in Egypt. The angel passed over them because the door posts of their houses were painted with the blood of the lamb. The houses which did not have the blood of the lamb in their door posts experienced the death of their first born sons. The Israelites from then on celebrate the Passover Feast every year to remember the salvation that they received from God.
John the Baptist declared that Jesus is the Passover Lamb. John 1:29 says, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
Paul also wrote to the Corinthians that since Christ, the Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed we must live our lives as redeemed people.
Peter in 1 Peter 1:18-19 reminds us that we were saved by the “precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Hebrews 10 affirms that the death of Jesus as the Sacrificial Lamb is once and for all.
Second, Jesus as our “Paskwa” means that He reigns now in the Throne of God as the Lamb of God.
Revelation 5 tells us that the Lamb of God sits in the Throne — “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
In movies and in books, who is the king of the jungle? It’s the Lion. We base our leadership and understanding of authority on the Lion. Although Revelation 5:5 also tells us that one of the names of Jesus is the Lion of Judah, we need understand it in its context — it is a reference that Jesus is from the Tribe of Judah, and a fulfillment of a prophecy in Genesis 49 that the Messiah will come from that Tribe.
But in terms of the reign of Jesus, it’s not the Lion that sits in the Throne but the Lamb. This means that Jesus, as King of kings and Lord of lords, reigns as the Lamb of God. We are being reigned by a loving and merciful God — He loves us so much that He gave himself for all of us.
May we remember the meaning of “Paskwa” every time we celebrate Christmas. Merry Christmas everyone!
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on
December 25, 2017