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Easter Jubilee

Celebrating the resurrection is much, much more than a day.

After completing 40 days in preparation for Jesus’ resurrection, the church fathers set aside 50 days to celebrate that resurrection. Why 50 days? For a number of reasons, including these listed below.

  • It was 50 days later when the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers on Pentecost.
  • “The period corresponded with the Jewish spring harvest and ended with the Festival of Weeks, or Shavuot (the wheat harvest.)” [1]
  • The number seven signifies fullness, such as the seven days of creation, and the seven weeks of seven days amplifies that significance.
  • The number 50 suggested liberation, freedom, redemption deliverance, and joy, as in the year of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus 25.

In my opinion, the 50 days also fulfills a significant part of Jesus’ mission, which he quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2. We find Jesus sharing his mission statement, or specific purpose statement in Luke 4.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19 NRSVUE)

While “the year of the Lord’s favor” can mean more than a reference to the year of Jubilee, Isaiah was clearly making an allusion to Leviticus 25, which brings us back to a list of sevens.

You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee for you. (Leviticus 25:8-11a NRSVUE)

Let’s remind ourselves of some of the blessings contained in this the year of Jubilee and note the parallels to what the Easter season points to.

  • No planting or sowing, the fields will provide all your needs.
  • Debts are forgiven.
  • Family lands are restored.
  • Slaves are set free.

A word seen throughout the entire passage describing this year of Jubilee is the word redemption.

The season of Easter is a season of redemption and liberation. Jesus Christ came to liberate his people from sin, guilt, and debt, just as in the Jubilee year the Israelites and aliens among them were liberated from their guilt, debt and crimes. The big difference is Jesus’ liberation and redemption is not limited to the Israelite nation. He came for all; he forgives all; he redeems all; he offers Jubilee to all. In him, all believers are brought into the New Covenant and are given an inheritance into the kingdom of God – into a land that is being reserved for us free from corruption (1 Peter 1:3-4).

In practical terms, the season of Jubilee enables us to do the following:

  • Stop focusing on our behavior – good or bad – and focus on following Jesus. Following Jesus will affect our behavior.
  • See that the fruits of our labor in participation with Jesus produces results we see and do not see. We trust that fruit to him.
  • Know we have an eternal home in Christ. What we have here or what happens here does not affect what he has done or our future life in him.
  • See that all have value and dignity – regardless of economy, environment, genetics, race, belief, or social status. All are equal in him, and we treat all others as those whom God loves.

The Easter season is a 50-day celebration of Jesus ushering in the kingdom, where we experience to a point, and will one day fully experience, the ongoing year of Jubilee before the Lord. Until Jesus returns, we are living in the year of the Lord’s favor because our Lord died for our sins and rose for our relationship with Father, Son, and Spirit.

This is a season of celebration for all. None are excluded from the transformational work Jesus offers every person who has ever lived, is living, and will live in the future.

Spend the 50 days of Easter going through Psalms of praise, spend more time in worship. Celebrate your relationship with Christ with fellow believers. Share the joy you have in Christ with others. Celebrate because not only did he rise from the dead, but he ushered in the year of the Lord’s favor.

Rick Shallenberger

[1] Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year, p 190.

8 thoughts on “Easter Jubilee”

  1. We have no certain evidence as to whether the 50 year Jubilee cycle was ever observed in Israel. And if so, when and/or how often. Jesus, though, IS our sure Jubilee. In him we find true forgiveness and freedom.

  2. Some economists speculate that the U.S. economy would have avoided its regular cycles of recessions were the Jubilee concept in vogue today.

  3. Thanks for these encouraging words once again Rick. Let us walk and glory in the hope that Jesus has given to all.

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