It’s all about Jesus. Yes, Passover the Jewish Festival from the Old Testament, a story rich in symbolism, is all fulfilled in Jesus or as I call him, Yeshua, the name his Heavenly Father named him. Yeshua grew up attending Passover Seders and being that this is one of the three festivals of the LORD that all men from Israel must appear at the Temple, we can say for sure that Passover was an important part of Yeshua’s years as a young man. Yeshua also knew the significance of this festival and how it all pointed to Him. So, I can’t help but wonder what He thought each year as all of the Israelites would gather for Seder meals to commemorate Passover. All that time He knew exactly what was to occur one Passover in the not so distant future. For over 3000 years Jews have been celebrating Passover, the story I told of Exodus from Egypt in Part 1. That was the traditional Jewish version. Today I will detail how and why Passover is all about Yeshua.
Let me start with a scripture that should enjoin both Jew and Gentile; Ephesians 2:13-14: But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah’s blood. For he himself is our shalom – he has made us both one and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility.
I start with this because I think it is important to understand that Yeshua shed his blood for us, not to become two people groups, but one in Messiah. He has broken down the wall of partition but man has rebuilt it. This article is about bringing both Jew and Gentile together again, as God intended.
Let us examine the many details of both the Exodus story and that of our LORD Yeshua. The first detail is the decree of Pharaoh to kill the firstborn of every Jew. Moses survives and redeems God’s people. After Yeshua was born, King Herod was very concerned about the birth of a new king, so he decrees that all Jewish boys under the age of 2 or younger born in Bethlehem or the vicinity be killed. Like Moses escapes death, this time I find it fascinating that Yeshua is taken to Egypt to hide until this sentence passes.
Next we look at the instructions set forth by Moses by using the blood of a lamb to protect their homes from the final plague, death of the firstborn. The blood was to be smeared on the doorposts and lentils of the homes, when one does this there is a shape that can be seen. It is the shape of a cross that we see, the prefigurement of the cross. This is powerful symbolism of greater things to come. But also just as the Israelites were slaves, so too were we slaves to the bondage of sin. The shedding of blood from the Lamb of God freed us from bondage as well. Connections, it is all about making the connections.
Each item on a Seder plate has symbolism. The hard boiled egg, the parsley, the lamb shank bone, horseradish, and charoseth ( a dish made from honey, apples, cinnamon and walnuts). There is also grape juice, enough for 4 cups, and two bowls of water, one clear, one salty and of course matzah. Let’s start with the grape juice or red wine depending on the type of Seder. When we examine the juice we notice that it is red, which reminds us of Yeshua. Yeshua shed His blood for us and yes the color was red. We are made holy by the blood of Yeshua and the Israelites were told that they were to be holy because God was holy. The first cup of juice is drunk at the beginning of the Seder. The juice of course comes from grapes, they are obviously fruit. This reminds us of 1 Corinthians that reminds us that Yeshua is our first fruits, just like this first cup. John 15:5 tells us that Yeshua is the vine and we are the branches, if we abide in Him and He in us we will bare much fruit, apart from Him we can do nothing.
Now we move to the bowl of clear water. It was customary to wash ones hands prior to partaking in a meal. This washing or purification takes us back to ancient Israel, one would go through immersion of Mikveh, a Jewish ritual. Maybe you know this as baptism. Its’ roots are Jewish. But there is even more significance to this ritual. When we read of the book of John, Chapter 13, Yeshua gives this an entirely new meaning, a much deeper meaning. We read about an act of humility that is unparalleled anywhere else in scripture. Yeshua, God, takes off the towel from around His waist and begins to wash the feet of his talmudin, disciples, even the feet of Judas who Yeshua knew, was about to betray Him. Here is the Creator of the Universe, washing the feet of the men He loved. This act of love is how we should feel during Passover. And yes this was at a Passover Seder. Some of you may call this the Last Supper, however scripture refers to this, and Yeshua himself tells us, that this is a Passover Seder.
The Parsley is used in traditional Seders to remind us of the tears from the pain of slavery. During a Seder each person would take a piece of parsley, dip it in the salt water, and take a bite. This salty water taste is the reminder of the tears shed in Egypt. What is the connection to Yeshua? The parsley also reminds us of the hysop plant. This was the plant used to spread the blood around the doorposts so that death would pass-over the houses with the blood on them. When do we read about hyssop again? In John 19:29 when Yeshua was on the cross, they dipped the hyssop in wine vinegar and offered it to Yeshua to drink.
At a Seder each table has 3 slices of matzah, usually wrapped in a white towel. Jewish traditional thought is that these 3 pieces of matzah represent the three Patriarchs of Judaism: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we as believers see a different set of three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is all about Him. Every item and every tradition points to Yeshua.
One of the traditions of Passover involves the matzah. The middle piece of the 3, say the Son piece, is taken out and we break it, then wrap it in a white cloth and hide it away. Jewish Seders do this to involve the children because at this point they are ready to eat and we have not gotten to the meal yet, they are like, “more horderves? I can’t take this another minute but wait, now we can play a game”. The piece that is hidden away or perhaps “buried” away will later be bought back, or shall I say” resurrected” or “redeemed”. I love this connection between the Jewish tradition and the real meaning. The death, burial and resurrection that all occurred during Passover. So what is the term for this little game? This is known as the Afikomen, a greek word which is a combination of two words: one meaning to take away for a while, the other to bring back. Wow. Praise God.
The second cup of wine is the cup of judgement. It is used to remind us of the plagues. We do not drink this cup. Jewish tradition is that one would take their finger dip it into the wine or grape juice and each time a plague is called out by the leader, they would drip one drop into the bowl of clear water. Ten plagues, ten drops. Upon examination of the bowl, what was once clear water is now a combination of water and red juice. What could this be symbolic of? Turn to John 19:34 when the Roman soldier spears Yeshua in his side and out pours blood and water. We are reminded of the love and sacrifice that Yeshua has for us as his blood and water flowed from His body and form a pool below Him. Meditate on this please. It will give you chills.
Four questions are read by a young child at the Seder. The first one being about why we eat unleavened bread on this night. Well, the Jewish answer is simple. After 400 years of slavery when the Pharaoh said “go”, they did not waltz out, they ran out and did not allow the bread to rise or they simply did not use yeast or even bring yeast, a rising agent, with them. In 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 ,Paul reminds of that a little yeast can ruin the entire loaf. But Paul is not talking about bread. He is talking about being puffed up with pride, yeast is like pride, it puffs one up. Paul warns us not to be prideful, which the LORD despises. Yeshua went to the cross as a lamb, humble in every aspect. He could have been full of pride and had the angels take Him away, but He knew that this was the Fathers will for Him. Humility is a good thing.
When we examine the matzah we see a couple of interesting things. As we hold it up to the light, we see dark brown spots, and yes, we also see lines or stripes. Isaiah 53:10 tells us that by His stripes we will be healed and Zecahariah 12:10 prophesizied that we would look to Him whom they pierced. We also get another picture of Messiah from the matzah. When held up to the light, the light shines through, reminding us that Yeshua is the light of the world.(John 13:36). Oh, and one more tid bit. Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, which means house of bread. Could the connections between the Passover story and Yeshua get any more connected? Yes, in an amazing way.
But we need to cover a couple of other Seder plate items. First the horseradish. This is used at a traditional Seder to remind us of the bitterness, horror and brutality of slavery. We come forward now to Yeshua at the Passover table. Yeshua tells one of the disciples that the one who dips his bread into the bitter herbs will betray him, and we can all guess who that was. Yes, Judas. We have tasted the bitterness but I earlier wrote about a sweet dish call Charoseth. This sweet dish made from mashed apples and grape juice and honey reminds us of the mortar that was used to build bricks when the Jews were in bondage. The sweetness of the death of Yeshua comes at His resurrection. He Lives, He overcomes death, what wonderful sweetness is that. A sweetness that lasts an eternity. The egg was not originally on the Seder plate but later added by the Rabbis to remind us of the Temple. Three times a year all male Jews were required to come to the temple and bring sacrifices for Passover, Pentecost, and Sukkot (or the Feast of Booths). The egg being 3 parts in one, would remind us of these three requirements regarding temple attendance. We however again may look at the three parts of an egg and create an entirely different analogy. Three parts just like the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, perfectly describe the 3 parts of God, one entity but 3 parts each with a special purpose.
The last item on the plate is the shank bone. This bone reminds us of the lamb that was slain in Egypt and its’ blood that was used to save the Israelites from the final plague. This plague like all the others did not effect the Israelites. They were protected, sealed by God. They lived in Goshen not far from Egypt but not one plague disturbed the Hebrew people. This in itself is a miracle. The slain lamb had to be without defect, spotless or blameless we might say. Moses ordered the Hebrew people to bring a lamb into their homes and inspect it for 4 days to make sure it was without defect. Yeshua too was inspected for 4 days by the Pharisees as they questioned him repeatedly about things such as Ceaser’s coin, marriage between brothers and many other things, still they could find no fault. He was spotless, blameless and without defect.
On the day of Preparation for Passover the lambs would be brought to the High Priest at 9 AM and the High Priest would lead the lambs on a procession to the place of sacrifice. The sacrifices had to be completed by 3 PM. At the completion of the sacrifices the High Priest would simply say, “It is finished”. Yeshua is our Passover lamb. He is brought out at the same time and made to carry His own cross. He is then nailed to the cross and at 3 PM just as Yeshua gives up His spirit he says, ” It is finished”. I submit to you that everything those lambs went through, Yeshua our Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world has gone through examination, inspection, marching through the streets and being sacrificed. He has become the Hight Priest for all eternity. He is the Cohen HaGadol!
The fourth and final cup of wine, is the cup of Praise. Praise for the Israelites freedom and Praise for Yeshua our Messiah. At the end of every Seder we have a saying; L’Shannah Hab’ah Berushylim- Next year in Jerusalem.
I hope you enjoyed the connections and will never be able to see Passover through the same set of lens as before. Passover is a Yeshua story. There is no such thing as a coincidence, the above statements are a God-incidence. He redeemed us from bondage of sin and all throughout scripture, He is the Lamb of God. Next time we see Him, He will be the Lion of Judah.
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