What every Christian needs to know about Passover
The Jewish holiday of Passover for 2010 begins at sundown on Monday and lasts the next seven days. It is the celebration of the Israelites coming out of slavery in Egypt.
The biblical event takes place in Exodus 10 through 13 in the Old Testament.
God instructed the Jewish people to mark their doorposts with lamb’s blood so He would “pass over” them when slaying the first born of Egypt (the last of the “10 Plagues” causing Pharoah to release them from bondage).
Many Christian churches have begun incorporating a Passover “Seder” (say-der, meaning service) into their activities around Easter.
Passover is what Jesus and the apostles were celebrating at the Last Supper, because they were Jewish men with Jewish observances:
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance.” (Exodus 12:14)
“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying ‘go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’” (Luke 22:7-8)
Passover is also celebrated by “Jewish believers” – Jews who believe that Jesus is the Messiah of both the Jews and Christians. Psalm 22; Isaiah 11:1, 7:14; Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 1:1-16, 21:7; Mark 15; John 3:16 are a few parallel passages in the Old and New Testament supporting this belief.
Jesus’ Hebrew name is “Yeshua” – the Lord saves. Jewish believers attend Messianic Synagogues or Christian churches.
How is Passover celebrated?
The opening night Passover Service (“seder”) is usually held in family homes or in unison as entire congregations. A large meal is served, with some items representing the hardships faced in Egypt and in the desert.
Prior to the meal, attendees read from the Haggadah, which is the re-telling of the Exodus story. The Haggadah has existed for about 300 years and includes songs about the sacrificial lamb and the escape via the Red Sea.
How does the perspective differ for Christians and Messianic Jewish believers?
The story of the Exodus remains the same. But countless parallels exist for Christians and Jewish believers between the lambs sacrificed in the Old Testament, and Jesus as the “Ultimate Sacrifice.”
There are also striking prophetic similarities between the first Passover dinner in the book of Exodus, present-day Jewish Passover activities, and what Jesus did at the Last Supper:
- The Jews were told to take only unleavened bread on their journey.-Jesus broke unleavened bread with the disciples.
- The ceremony contains glasses of wine as an honor to the lamb’s blood and sweat of the Jews.-Jesus offered the disciples wine as a symbol of his blood, yet to be shed.
- The “matzo” crackers (today’s symbol of the Israelites’ unleavened bread) are dipped in bitter herbs and eaten to represent sorrow and hard labor.-The disciples dipped and ate unleavened bread to represent Jesus’ body.
- Lamb’s blood was shed at the first Passover to save the Jews from the plagues and free them from a seemingly never-ending bondage.-Jesus was “sacrificed” (crucified) soon after he celebrated Passover at the Last Supper. His blood was shed to save us from our sins and free us from eternal death.
- The ceremonial matzo (“Afikomen”) is hidden under a cushion, not to be seen until the end, when the children uncover it and bring it out.-Jesus was entombed and wasn’t seen again for three days. At the end of three days he is seen alive outside by the women, having shed his wrappings.
- There are 3 matzohs separated in different folds of a napkin, used in the ceremony at various intervals.-Jesus was born, died, and rose again. (3 stages).
About the author: Sheryl Young is a Jewish believer in Jesus and author of “What Every Christian Should Know about the Jewish People: Improving the Church’s Relationship with God’s Original Chosen Nation.” The book contains more information on Jewish Holidays.)
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.