Passover had begun when Yeshua died, and on the third day, early that Sunday morning, the priests were in the Temple offering up the firstfruits of the harvest. At this very time, our Messiah and High Priest was raised from the dead, offering up Himself as our atonement. In so doing, He became the firstfruits of the rest of the harvest of believers in Him. Therefore Paul writes:
But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the Firstfruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Messiah the firstfruits, after that those who are Messiah’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
On the first day of the week, Yeshua was raised bodily from the dead, to fulfill the symbolism of this yearly festival which falls within the days of unleavened bread. As Passover pictures Messiah as the Lamb who was slain, Firstfruits pictures Messiah who was ‘raised up’ as firstfruits, in whom alone those who are asleep will be “made alive.” Firstfruits could not be celebrated apart from Passover; and, Messiah’s Resurrection can never be celebrated apart from His Passover sacrifice for us. This would be to separate the fruit from the root.
Firstfruits was celebrated only after entering the Promised Land (Leviticus 23:10). After all, how could it be celebrated in the wilderness where there is no harvest? So also, Messiah’s resurrection speaks of life after and beyond this wilderness journey of struggle. This resurrection life will not be fully understood while in the bondage of sin. In fact, it was not until after Firstfruits was observed that the new growth of grain could be eaten. Likewise, it was not until after Messiah’s resurrection that believers could fully partake of the new growth, even the new life in Him. It was only after He had been raised and ascended to the Father that we received “the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 8:23).
Firstfruits gave assurance that the rest of the harvest would be accepted: “He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted” (Leviticus 23:11). God does not just barely accept us, but in Messiah, He is delighted and well pleased with us. He accepts us completely.