PASSOVER AND ITS CHRISTIAN SIGNIFICANCE
by David Kiern
Passover kicks off the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread, the celebration of redemption where no bread containing leaven is eaten. In preparation of Passover, a major cleaning operation takes place in every Jewish home, sometimes weeks in advance. All chametz (leaven) is thrown out of the house. The evening before Passover, parents guide their children through the home in a ceremonious search for any hidden leaven. These activities are used as a teaching tool, because during the Festival, leaven is symbolic of sin.
In the days leading up to Passover, Jews pay special attention to searching their hearts removing any sin in their lives.
After sundown on the night Passover begins, the first seder (order) is held. The Passover seder is a ceremonial meal that serves as a remembrance of captivity and deliverance from Egypt. During the Seder, Jews drink four cups of wine for many symbolic reasons, though all lend to the representation of their redemption from slavery. Matzah (unleavened bread) is eaten during the seder and throughout the week of Passover in remembrance of when the Israelites fled Egypt in such a hurry, their dough hadn't time to rise, and was left unleavened. Bitter herbs are eaten with the matzo to symbolize the pain and bitterness of slavery. The seder is all conducted through the Haggadah (Jewish text), which retells, in detail, the Exodus story.
On the first day of the Festival, a corporate worship service is held commemorating the Jews leaving Egypt. A second service is held on the seventh day, commemorating the splitting of the Red Sea.
Followers of Jesus who celebrate Passover are struck by the Messianic significance embedded in the observance. During the traditional Jewish seder, the stripped and bruised matzah is broken, wrapped in a white linen, and temporarily hidden in the home, only to be searched for and discovered later by the children. This ancient tradition is reminiscent of our Savior, who was whipped, crucified, laid to rest in the tomb, and rose again.
The wine, which is customarily dripped onto a white plate, reminds of us the blood Messiah poured out for us so that we might be saved. He is our sacrificial lamb, the one that gives us the unmeasurable opportunity to appear before the Father as a new man, clean of sin. The parallels continue with every aspect of the traditional ceremony, and serves as confirmation that the Passover is still relevant today.
Christians, too, are to rid ourselves of leaven, as stated in 1 Corinthians 5, “Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
The night before his torture and execution, we see Yeshua partaking of the Passover meal with the disciples. It was here that He lifted the matzah and wine, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body... Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
When Christians celebrate Passover, we are participating in the remembrance of the greatest story ever given to mankind. We are teaching our children about the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior, the King of Israel. Passover reminds us that without the sacrifice of Messiah, we would be no different than the uncovered Egyptian houses in Exodus. But because we have chosen to mark our hearts with the shed blood of the Lamb, Believers are free to leave Egypt behind, and journey into the Land with songs of joy and great deliverance.
From our family to yours, I wish you a blessed and meaningful Passover!
Read more about the Biblical Feasts of Israel in our new hardcover coffee table book, I AM ISRAEL: The Believer's Guide to the Rebirth of the Promised Land.
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