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Foundations – The Meaning of Passover Part 5

by | Wed, Apr 5 2023

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We’ve been looking at the Feast of Passover over the course of several previous articles. We’ve looked at Church history’s attitude to the Jewish Passover, we’ve looked at the account of God delivering His children from slavery in Egypt which is what Passover celebrates. We’ve also been looking at the step by step process of a Passover Seder (meal) and what all the elements actually represent. We’ve been discovering that every element of the Passover is pointing to and fulfilled by Jesus Himself, who Paul said is our Passover Lamb. (1 Cor 5:7) In this article we’re going to look at the remaining steps of the Passover Seder. Last time we finished up learning about the matza bread, in particular the Afikomen which is three pieces of matza, the second piece being broken, half of it wrapped and hidden away to be found later on. We’ll continue the process of the Passover meal to look at the remaining elements.

Leviticus 23:4-5, ‘These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocation which you shall proclaim at the times appointed them. In the first month on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.’

  1. The story of Passover

This is the part of the seder where the story is relayed and four questions are asked:

  1. Why is this night different than all other nights?
  2. Why on all other nights do we eat bread with leaven, but on this night we only eat unleavened bread?
  3. Why on all other nights do we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night we eat only bitter herbs?
  4. Why on all other nights do we eat in the normal way, but on this night we eat with special ceremony?

As all four questions are answered, the story of Passover is recalled:

  1. They were slaves to harsh Egyptian slave masters who made their lives miserable with unbearable burdens.
  2. They eat unleavened bread to remove sin from their lives and have repentant hearts before God and to seek His mercy.
  3. They eat only bitter herbs so they remember the bitterness of their slavery so they never forget.
  4. They eat this meal with great ceremony because God provided for them incredible miracles of deliverance from their oppressive enemy.

In all this we see the parallel is striking: we were slaves to sin carrying unbearable burdens that we couldn’t free ourselves from; we are to come before God with repentant hearts with true remorse for our sin seeking His forgiveness and cleansing; we remember through our communion ceremony the price Jesus paid for our redemption, we remember because He is worthy to be honoured and adored for His sacrificial love toward us.

In Genesis 15:13-16, God told Abraham that one day, his descendants would be enslaved in a nation that wasn’t theirs for about 400 years and that afterward they’d return to the land He was promising to give them. God ordained that His chosen people would be enslaved and that He was going to deliver them. Why? Man never really understands his sinful condition, usually, man thinks he’s pretty good, however God knows the mess we’re really in and just how desperately we need a Messiah (Saviour). Because the Jewish people were chosen to be a light to the nations, their history would be played out before the world and they would see through them the power and might of God to deliver, redeem and save. What God did for the Hebrews enslaved by Egypt showed His power and might, His commitment to keep His promises and how much they needed Him to do so.

In the same way, Jesus Christ also demonstrated through His own life and teaching the sinful condition of man, the power and might He has to save and the extreme measures He took to save and redeem. We as believers are His representatives before the world. In this way, both the Jew and Gentile believers have the same calling…to be a light to the nations to demonstrate the power, might, love and commitment of God to save the lost and set them free from slavery.

  1. The second cup: The Cup of Deliverance

This cup is drunk in celebration of deliverance as the people were led out of Egypt, finally free of their slavery. We too, celebrate for the same reason, deliverance was given because God granted us mercy through the sacrifice of His Son.

  1. The meal

This is where the full meal is eaten, but all the elements on the Seder plate are systematically gone through. The full meal is served and everyone enjoys their food and each other’s company. This is a meal of joy and great celebration.

  • The Zeroah or the lamb shank represents the sacrifice, the lamb that was slain, and whose blood was shed to save them from death and judgement.
  • The Maror; parsley that represents the bitter herbs they were required to eat, remembering the bitterness of their slavery and the tears of sorrow they shed. The Maror is dipped into the salt water and eaten.
  • Charoset is a sweet brown mixture of apples, nuts, cinnamon and sweet red wine that’s eaten with Matza and it represents the mortar they used between the bricks during their slavery.
  • Karpas is another green vegetable, maybe lettuce to represent something other than bitter herbs. This is to represent hope and renewal.
  • Beitzah is a roasted hard-boiled egg and represents the korban chagigah, a festival sacrifice that was made in the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s part of the symbolism because it’s a reminder that the Temple was destroyed and without it, the Jewish people are in a way incomplete.

Listen to Mandy’s full message on Foundations below: