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.’
For the last few programs we’ve been looking at the Feast of Passover. We learned about the conflict between the dates that the Christian church celebrates Easter and the actual dates of the Jewish Passover. We covered the account of the Hebrew’s deliverance from 400 years of Egyptian slavery, and how this Jewish feast is celebrated today and how it’s adapted from the original requirements that were laid out for them by Moses.
In our previous episode we got up to the part of the Passover Seder (meal) where the four cups of wine are explained. They come from Exodus 6:6-7 where God made 4 “I will” statements.
1 – I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians.
2 – I will deliver you from their bondage.
3 – I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
4 – I will take you for My people and I will be your God.
The first cup is called the cup of Sanctification in which God makes His people holy to Himself. In Jesus we recognise that His sacrifice is what makes us holy, it’s His sacrifice that washes us clean from the filth and depravity of our sins.
This is not about hygiene, it’s a symbolic hand washing that because of what God has done we are made clean. Again, we see Jesus doing this with His own disciples but He showed incredible humility by washing their feet, something only the lowest of slaves would do. Being washed by Him makes us clean.
Hebrews 10:19-22, ‘Therefore brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let’s draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.’
Again, this washing with water is not about physical hygiene, it’s a symbolic ritual for spiritual renewal and cleansing in much the same way that water baptism isn’t about physical hygiene, but rather spiritual death and rebirth.
The parsley is dipped into salt water. The parsley represents the bitter herbs the Hebrews were required to eat during that very first Passover Seder (meal) and the salt represents tears; bitter tears for all the bitter slavery they endured for hundreds of years and salt representing those tears that were shed while waiting for their redemption.
This portion of the Seder is also taken from the Song of Solomon which is typically a song between the man and a woman but in various places in the Old Covenant, God referred to Israel as His wife and He as her Husband. God wanted to see His relationship restored to His people and He wanted their love for Him to be rekindled. Jesus is called the Bridegroom and those who believe in Him are referred to as His bride. The typology is stunning.
Three pieces of Matza bread are placed into a special bag, ahead of time and placed in the centre of the table, this is called the Afikomen. It’s a Greek word and it means ‘That which comes after’ or ‘That which is coming’. The middle piece of Matza is removed and broken in half; one half is returned to the bag and the other half is wrapped and hidden in the house somewhere. Many Jews think that the second Matza symbolises their affliction in Egypt but cannot explain why the second piece is selected. Some believe the three pieces of Matza represent Abraham, Isaac and Jacob but again, they can’t explain why the second piece – Isaac – has to be broken and partially hidden away, because even though Abraham was willing to sacrifice him according to God’s word, Isaac wasn’t in fact harmed in any way. For believer’s in Jesus, we see these Matza as being the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit with the second person of the Trinity – the Son – being broken on our behalf, with His body being wrapped and buried (hidden away) and afterward, rising from the dead (found). The fact that Afikomen actually means ‘That which is coming’ could also refer to His second coming.
Some believe that the tradition of the Afikomen came about as a result of Messianic believing Jews in the first century, after the resurrection of Jesus, wanting a blatant symbolic image of the Trinity and the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. This isn’t something I’ve been able to verify however.
The Matza bread itself is very much like a flat cracker or crisp bread that is punctured with lots of holes. This is deliberate. The bread is made with a special implement that pokes holes all over the bread to make absolutely sure that no pockets of air can bubble up and cause any kind of rising to take place. The griddle used to bake the bread also causes some striped markings along the puncture marks which makes the bread look both striped and pierced. Is this a coincidence? Quite possibly. But since the bread is represented by Jesus, who is the bread of life, and that He was striped and pierced during His flogging and crucifixion, the markings are very appropriate whether they’re meant to be or not. Isaiah 53 describes the stripes Messiah would receive. Psalm 22 describes Messiah’s hands and feet being pierced and the Gospels all describe the fulfillment of those torturous events.
In the next program, we’ll continue to look at the remaining elements of the Passover Seder and what they represent.