We are approaching the Passover/Easter season, and I pray this will be a spiritually enriching time for you and your family. Hundreds of Jewish people—both believers in Jesus and seekers—will be attending Chosen People Ministries’ Passover events around the globe.
Your Mission to the Jewish People has produced two new books which are now available. Both books cover similar material, but the longer book, Messiah in the Passover, goes into greater depth regarding Passover in the Bible, Jewish history, and even Church history. The Gospel in the Passover focuses on the way in which Jesus fulfills the festival.
PASSOVER AND THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
My chapter in Messiah in the Passover focuses on the Gospel of John. The following are a few key points from the chapter:
- Many scholars argue that the Gospel of John was primarily written to Gentiles, perhaps because of its A.D. 90 date of authorship as well as for a variety of textual reasons. However, the Gospel of John really should be viewed through a Jewish lens. John himself was Jewish and one of the earliest disciples of Jesus. He was present with Jesus at every Jewish festival the Savior celebrated.
- Perhaps this is why we learn some unique aspects of the last Passover supper of Jesus through John—especially from the teaching of the Savior during that meal, generally referred to as the Upper Room Discourse.
- In his very first mention of Jesus, John refers to Him as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). We may assume that his hearers would have understood this comment in light of the Passover.
THE FOOT WASHING
We understand that the Seder observed by Jesus and His disciples would have been more primitive and not as well developed as our modern Passover Seder.
However, some of the traditions recorded by John run parallel to our modern day Passover Seder and cause us to think that, in fact, Jesus observed a similar Passover to what we know today and what I was raised celebrating each year!
- The modern Haggadah calls upon participants to wash their hands twice for the sake of establishing ritual purity.
- These washing traditions harken back to those linked to ritual purity found in the Torah and in particular to various commandments associated with the priesthood and Temple offerings, especially the preparation of the priests for their duties.
- It appears that the washing of the disciples’ feet should be associated with the liturgy of the Last Supper (or Last Seder) rather than the common washing of feet when entering a house as a guest.
The strongest indication is that the disciples are already sitting at the table and engaged with dinner when the foot washing begins.
THE SOP AND THE BETRAYAL
Another key to understanding this meal as the Last Seder of Jesus comes when Jesus indicates to His disciples that Judas is going to betray Him. In response to Peter’s asking who the perpetrator will be, Jesus responds, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot (John 13:26).
The dipping of the “morsel” likely refers to one of the various “dippings” that are part of the Seder. It could refer to the dipping of the greens (parsley or lettuce), the bitter herbs, or the charoset (the sweet mixture of apples, nuts, and honey used to symbolize the sweetness of redemption in the midst of the bitterness of slavery represented by the other dippings).
Thanks for your prayers and generous support of our ministry. Happy Passover, and may the power of His resurrection give you strength to serve Him faithfully!
President, Chosen People Ministries