Over time, the word ‘passover’ has been taken to mean various things, some having been genuinely misunderstood and others being misappropriated from the original meaning. One example is the passing of the Israelites through the Red Sea as they escaped from the Egyptians and another refers to when a person dies and they are said to passover. The correct application of the word refers to the passing over by the Lord in mercy on houses marked with the blood of a lamb in the final judgement on Egypt. Such was the impact of this moment when the firstborn of all those living without this protection in Egypt died that there was a loud wailing throughout the country. This sad event was a catalyst to Pharaoh setting the Jewish nation free and has been remembered annually by practicing Jews ever since. Passover (or Pesach) is in the Spring and is one of the three main annual festivals celebrated. It not only marks the liberation of the Jews from slavery in Egypt, but also the giving of the Ten Commandments and the journey to Israel. The ‘Hagaddah’, which is the story of the exodus from Egypt, is read at this celebration and takes the form of a ritual meal with many symbolic components. It was important to Jesus and we should know why.
- ‘Passover and Easter are the only Jewish and Christian holidays that move in sync, like the ice skating pairs we saw during the winter Olympics’ - Marvin Olasky
- ‘Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being’ - Morris Joseph
- ‘Passover is one of my favourite times of the year. This is when the whole community and family gets together to remember who we are and why we are here’ - Jennifer Wanger
- ‘The message of Passover remains as powerful as ever. Freedom is won not on the battlefield but in the classroom and the home. Teach your children the history of freedom if you want them never to lose it’ - Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Although in Greece, sometimes Passover begins with fireworks, it pre-dates such things as the oldest festival and is thought to go back over 3500 years. Mary and Joseph celebrated Passover with Jesus as he grew up and he made a point of having the Passover Meal as the ‘Last Supper’ with his own disciples just a few days before his crucifixion. Even for Christians today, there is much strong symbolism that Jesus made between the Passover Meal and what we variously call either ‘Communion’, ‘The Eucharist’, ‘Breaking Bread’, ‘The Love Feast’, ‘The Lord’s Table’ and ‘The Lord’s Supper’. He imbued it with profound meaning, perhaps beyond what you may have thought of. By tradition in the days of Jesus, temple Passover lambs could only come from one place, Bethlehem, the very place where Jesus was born. This sacrificial offering for sin had to be a one-year old male lamb in the prime of life without blemish - Jesus too was spotless and in his physical prime. No bones of the lamb that died in place of the firstborn were to be broken and its blood was shed before being sprinkled on the doorpost.
- ‘For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect’ - 1 Peter 1:18-19
- ‘God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood - to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished - he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus’ - Romans 3:25-26
- ‘In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ - Hebrews 9:22
- ‘The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ - I Corinthians 11:23-26
Jesus’ death was a fulfilment of the ‘types and shadows’ throughout the Old Testament and especially those seen in the Passover meal. The first Passover lamb was slain during the dark times in Egypt and marked the beginning of The Exodus when the Israelites were delivered from slavery. Trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus the Lamb of God brings us deliverance, inaugurating salvation for all who are otherwise under the power of sin, death and judgement. On those occasions when we take the bread and wine, we are doing at least six things:
- The Lord’s Supper - Remembering Jesus’ death on the cross ‘until he comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:20, 26)
- The Lord’s Table - Submitting to Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 10:21)
- Breaking of the Bread - Celebrating both his body given for us and his resurrection as did those two going to Emmaus (Luke 24:35)
- Communion - Participating with Christ through confession and having fellowship with each other (1 Corinthians 10:16)
- Eucharist - Giving thanks for Jesus’ victory and hoping for his return (Luke 22:19)
- Love Feast - Deeply loving our brothers and sisters in Christ (Jude 12, 1 Corinthians 11:33)
At Passover, one of the ingredients is ‘charoset’ which is a sweet mixture of nuts with fresh or dried fruit and spices. For Easter, many Christians like hot cross buns and for Christmas the ever-popular mince pie! How about a ‘hot cross mince pie’ - a mince pie with a pastry cross to remind you of the precious links between Christmas, Passover and Easter? The fulfilled mission of Jesus is certainly one to celebrate - his Passover is the assurance of our pass over.
TAGS - propitiation, justification, redemption, Moses, Promised Land, Abraham, Jordan, breakthrough