The following are small samples of the content you will find in the Messiah in the Passover book. We hope these excerpts will whet your appetite for the wonderful information you will discover within the pages of this excellent reference book, which is specially designed for believers to learn more about the festival and to be able to celebrate with their families.
Dr. Mitch Glaser
The Jewish holidays not only include teaching, but also special sacrifices that are made such as the waving of sheaves, the baking of bread, the building of booths, and the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet). The seven great festivals of Israel are replete with object lessons that help us better understand the story of redemption. These object lessons, woven into the very fabric of the feasts, enabled the Israelites to “get their hands a little dirty” and to not merely hear or listen, but to do and participate so that the lessons of the festivals became ingrained in their very souls. It’s no secret to modern experts on the process of learning that it is not merely children who learn better by doing—but adults as well. Participating in the activities makes these lessons unforgettable.
This is the foundation for the Passover: it is a festival filled with opportunities for participation in the remembrance of our great deliverance from Egypt. We were told to recount the story year after year so that new generations of Jewish people would never forget what God did in delivering them from Egypt.
It is wonderful to observe the Passover because there are so many invaluable lessons preserved in the festival for the people of God. Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples in light of His sacrifice for our sins. Similarly, Christians throughout the world, in one way or another, remember Jesus and give thanks for His sacrificial death through the Lord’s Supper, often called Communion.
When Christians celebrate the Passover, they grow in their understanding of the Old Testament, affirm the Jewishness of the Gospel, deepen their understanding of the Lord’s Supper, build community with fellow Christians, and develop a common experience that will enable them to better communicate the Gospel to their Jewish friends. Most of all, the glorious message of redemption is being passed along to future generations and linking our children and grandchildren to the Exodus. This will help our children develop a sense of continuity between the Old and New Testaments and between prophecy given and prophecy fulfilled. This will build the faith of our kids, giving them greater assurance that what the Bible said about the future has and will come to pass.
Passover and the Gospel of Luke
Dr. Darrell Bock
The events of the Last Supper are critical as it is the basis for what is commonly known as the Lord’s Supper or Communion. The Apostle Paul considers this meal to be important as he makes direct reference to the words spoken by Jesus at the table in 1 Corinthians 11:23–25, which most Christians today hear regularly.
The issues related to this meal are numerous and complex, leading to a host of debates and discussions, each of which could fill this chapter. However, our concerns are narrow.
We will attempt to answer the question, “What does the first-century Jewish background of the Passover holiday contribute to our understanding of what Jesus did with His disciples at this evidently special meal?” Specifically, we will need to establish if a Passover or Passover-like meal took place, what can be known about the way in which it was celebrated, and how Jesus transformed this celebration by His words and actions.
Luke explicitly associates the Last Supper with the Passover meal and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1, 7, 15). He does this because the two feasts come back to back and were often combined or discussed together with either name used for the whole (Ezekiel 45:21; Matthew 26:17–18; Mark 14:1-2). Flavius Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, writes “the feast of unleavened bread, which we call the Passover” (Ant. 14.21). The Passover connection is also seen in Mark’s use of the terms in Mark 14:1, 12, where he similarly refers to both celebrations. This is an important observation to make as we prepare to discuss the topic.
The celebration of the Passover goes back centuries as other chapters in this book show. But the more controversial question is whether a specific Passover Seder was present or merely a liturgically structured meal with multiple cups. And where can we find more conclusive information regarding the meal, elements, symbolism, and traditions observed that evening? We will examine whether or not Jesus observed a more defined Seder, the nature of its internal elements and symbols, such as the cups mentioned in the account, and if what Luke describes is generally consistent with the elements of the Passover meal.
Passover and Your Home
Should the Lord lead you to present a Passover Seder at your church or in your small group, it is wise to consider including an introduction about the significance of the Passover. You might even suggest that your fellowship invite a Chosen People Ministries staff person to instruct the group. Our Church Ministries staff would be happy to speak with you or your pastor. Request a representative at www.chosenpeople.com/site/invite-a-speaker.
Allow me then to share some of what I tell those who are interested in, but unfamiliar with, Passover to interest them in learning more and even celebrating a Seder. You will help your believing friends by introducing them to this great opportunity to better appreciate redemption!
The Lamb: Center Stage
At the first Passover in Egypt, lambs enter the lives of the family members and are scrutinized from the tenth until the fourteenth of the month of Nisan (Exodus 12:1–7). An attachment to the lamb, now a part of the Jewish household, naturally develops. To help His people understand the cost and value of redemption, it may be that God’s intention was for the lambs to be cherished and then later mourned.
Can you imagine what the children of Israel really thought about God’s instructions? “We’re to do—what? Why?” The children of Israel may not have remembered what God had so graphically conveyed about a lamb years ago when He called Abram to offer his only son as a burnt offering. The father and son climbed one of the mountains in the land of Moriah, and Isaac asked about the whereabouts of the burnt offering. His father plainly stated, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). The Lord provided a ram (a male lamb) caught in the thicket by his horns as a substitute for Isaac (v. 13). This may well have been the first substitutionary sacrifice in the Bible. If not, it nevertheless dramatically displayed the biblical theme of substitutionary sacrifice.
We see this pattern emerge again in the Exodus when the time came for the first Passover, as God requires another lamb to be slain and its blood smeared upon the lintel and doorposts of each Israelite home as a substitute for the death of the firstborn sons of Israel. If the Israelites obey, their firstborn sons will not need to die. For the Lord will go through the land of Egypt to smite all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, but when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come into the Israelites’ houses to smite them (Exodus 12:7, 12–13, 21–23).
The lamb of the Egyptian Passover presents a foreshadowing of the Lamb mentioned in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, where Isaiah speaks of a lamb to come as a substitute for His people, Israel:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5–6)
The theme of the sacrificial lamb continues through Scripture, but can only be fully appreciated by first understanding the original Passover. By retelling the Passover story during the Seder, we deepen our connection to both the people and the God of Israel as we understand that the ultimate sacrificial Lamb is Jesus Himself.