After the Exodus, God instructed the people of Israel to observe three festivals each year. The first was the Passover. This observance marked the beginning of an annual cycle. The nation had a new “first month.” Everything they did from that point on was intended to emanate from the narrative of deliverance.
The second festival took place when fields produced their first fruits. Though it was not time for the big harvest yet, this was cause for celebration because the emergence of firstfruits served as a sign pointing to something greater. Of course, there was no guarantee that disaster would not strike between the festival of firstfruits and the third festival of ingathering. So, observing this second festival was purely an act of faith—or, better yet, let’s call it anticipation, hope, expectation.
It is no coincidence that the pivotal events of the Christian faith coincide with those of Judaism. Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on or close to Passover week. Jesus’ last supper was a Jewish Seder. The death and resurrection of Jesus correspond to the Exodus deliverance. Like our Jewish brothers and sisters, the Christian experiences the beginning of their story as an act of liberation.
Once deliverance is claimed, the Christian may well ask, “What next?” This, too, corresponds to the experience of Israel in the Old Testament.
It should not surprise us, then, to consider the answer to that question lies in the promise of firstfruits, like it did for the nation of Israel.
The New Testament calls those who believe in Jesus “the firstfruits” (cf. 2 Thess. 2:13 & James 1:18). Jesus himself is described as the firstborn of these firstfruits. (cf. Col. 1:18 and 1 Cor. 15:20).
This serves as a reminder to us. Since we live on the other side of Easter, we are to live in this “now and not-yet” tension. On the one hand, we have been granted an experience of the harvest to come. On the other hand, we are still waiting. As we wait, we should have faith—faith that, as surely as God is good and faithful, so the full ingathering will come. We should believe to the point of expectancy. We should anticipate the fullness of joy as a Bride and Groom anticipate the consummation of their marriage on their wedding night.
This is a message for Easter Monday. Yes, deliverance came on Sunday, but Monday is just as important because it is on Monday that we believe to the point of sharing out of the abundance of promise that is surely ours. Let us celebrate as the firstfruits of one who is firstborn from among the dead. As firstfruits, let us be a sign of something greater that is surely coming. Let us be a people of hope.