Three of these festivals fell on the week that Jesus was crucified and are very significant. The first festival, and one we have looked at before, was the Passover. This is the feast that Jesus was celebrating just before he was betrayed and arrested. At the same time was the feast of unleavened bread and the day after the Sabbath was celebrated the feast of firstfruits (actually Easter Sunday).
The feast of firstfruits was a special feast, ordained by God, in which the Israelites would acknowledge the fertility of the land that God had graciously provided for them. It was not like the pagan rituals where the people would try to appease their gods in the hope that there might be a good crop. No, this was a faith filled celebration that God would supply and provide a good harvest just as he had promised.
It is a great principal for us today. We don’t owe God anything, we can never repay Him for what He has done, but what we can do is offer our best, our first fruits of all He has provided. The most obvious is the first fruits of our money, not whatever we have left over. But it also includes every other part of our lives; our time, energy and talents. God should always get the first and the best of us.
So how does this shadow Jesus?
It is very significant that the feast of firstfruits was celebrated on what we now call Easter Sunday. The apostle Paul saw the resurrection of Jesus as a ‘firstfruits’ of a greater resurrection day in 1 Corinthians 15:20–23.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
Jesus described Himself as the grain of wheat that was to fall into the ground and die, which would then spring to life and bring forth much fruit. He said to his disciples;
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (1 John 12:24)
Jesus was the ‘first fruits’ of the resurrection which in time we will all enjoy. The tomb is empty! Jesus rose from the dead! He is alive. He is the first to rise from the dead in expectation of a greater harvest.
What a fantastic hope! And on top of that there is another great ‘firstfruits’ promise, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was first poured out is often described as the ‘firstfruits’ of the Spirit. It was just a taste of what Jesus will increase in the earth until His return.
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)
We have received the first part, the deposit of the Holy Spirit. Just imagine what it will be like when we stand before the face of God in our resurrection bodies and experience His overwhelming love for all eternity. So far we have only had a taste. Then we will enjoy the full sumptuous meal!