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When Did Jesus Die?
When Did Jesus Die?
Why do we celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection around this time of the year and why does the date change from year instead of being on a fixed date like Christmas?
Scripture gives the date of Christ's death as 14 Nisan, the fourteenth day of the spring moon. It was calculated that the equivalent date in the Roman calendar was March 25. Early Christians followed a tradition that said that the lives of patriarchs spanned a whole number of years from conception to death. This resulted in their conviction that Christ was conceived on the same date that he died, March 25, which is why we celebrate the Annunciation on March 25. Adding exactly nine months (because Christ is the perfect human being) gives December 25 as the date of his birth.
Eastern Christians usually celebrate Easter at a different time from western Christians. This is because some Churches of the east continue to follow the Julian calendar and have not adopted the Gregorian calendar which was developed in the 16th century and is used in the western Church.
The meaning of the term ‘Eastern Christians’ may not be clear to some readers. Eastern Churches are those that developed in Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and southern India over several centuries of religious antiquity. Western Churches are those Christian traditions which developed in Western Europe. The terms East and West here originated with the division between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire and the cultural split that this caused. The term Orthodox (Greek Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, etc) is often used in the same way as ‘Eastern’ in referring to church communions.
Both eastern and western traditions celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the March equinox, but the equinox occurs on different dates in the Gregorian and Julian calendars and so for more than 400 years the celebration of the resurrection has usually occurred on different dates for Christians of the East and West.
Once in a while, however, the dates coincide and 2010 is one of those years in which all Christians celebrated Easter - and therefore also the feast of Pentecost - on the same day. This year then offers an opportunity for Christians of both East and West to profess together the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit to make us children of the one heavenly Father.
This prayer, composed by a task group from Queensland Churches Together, would be appropriate to use at liturgies celebrated during the Easter Season this year
“Lord of Heaven and Earth,
we long to see your reign of peace in every place.
Thank you for the gift of baptism,
in which there is neither Jew nor Greek,
male or female, slave or free.
When we refuse to acknowledge your grace in others, forgive us.
When we are divided one from another turn our hearts and heal us.
Send us into the world you love to witness to your love and justice.Make us living signs of your kingdom, in the name of Jesus Christ. “