This is a lengthy post but it is well worth the time it takes to read it, due to the foreshadows that are given and the significance of each of them.
Passover – the Feast fulfilled
Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.
~ 1 Corinthians 5:7
Jesus Christ died at the Jewish feast of Passover. Jesus was a Jew. Jesus observed the Passover meal with His disciples before He was crucified. Jesus’ death was a fulfillment of the types and shadows in the Passover meal. God had been pointing to the sacrifice for sin that would be made by the Messiah. Jesus was that Messiah.
When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden they, and their descendants, became separated from God.
God’s plan of redemption came through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the children of Israel. The Bible tells how God rescued Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Although they saw miracles they complained, and showed their unbelief, as they journeyed through the wilderness to the Promised Land. So God imposed the Law, through Moses. Israel accepted the new conditions of blessings for obedience and curses for failure.
God knew that Israel would not be able to keep the Law …
The story is instructive because it shows that they, and all people, are unable to measure up in their own strength.
The Law, which was added [Galatians 3:19] to God’s unconditional promises because of their transgressions, and which was a curse on Israel [Galatians 3:10], included moral and ceremonial requirements.
- To show His standard of righteousness[Psalms 19:7]
- To show that nobody measures upHe gave the Law to make sin obvious [Romans 3:20]
- To show that we are unable to achieve righteousness by our own effortsWe need a Savior [Hebrews 8:7-8]
- To point to that Savior
The Law pointed to Jesus, the Messiah [Romans 10:4]
The Bible says that the Law was ‘only a shadow of the good things that were to come’ (Hebrews 10:1). The Old Testament has many types and shadows that pointed to the Messiah. The Feast of Passover was one of the ceremonial requirements of the Law.
Passover events foreshadowing the Messiah and fulfilled in Christ
Israel had to take a lamb
“Tell the whole community of Israel that each man is to take a lamb …”
Jesus is the Lamb
John saw Jesus coming toward him and said: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
The lamb must be without defect
“The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect.”
Jesus was sinless and perfect
He committed no sin and no deceit was found in His mouth.
[1 Peter 2:22 and Isaiah 53:9]
Israel had to put blood on the door frames
“They are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs.” [Exodus 12:7]
Jesus shed His blood to cover our sins
God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.
Israel would be spared from death while under the blood
“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you …”
Jesus’ blood covers our sins so that we shall not be condemned
We have been justified by His blood. [Romans 5:9]
In Him we have redemption through His blood. [Ephesians 1:7]
Israel had to stay in their houses until the morning
“Not one of you shall go out of his house until morning.”
Faith in Jesus must endure to the end
He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel …
Israel was delivered out of slavery in Egypt
On that very day the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt. [Exodus 12:51]
Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. [Exodus 13:3]
Jesus gives spiritual deliverance from slavery to sin and the fear of death
… He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. [Hebrews 2:14-15]
We were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. [Galatians 4:3]
Passover was linked to the Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.
Leaven is yeast. It causes bread to rise; to get puffed up. It is a picture of sin through pride and selfishness. Israel had to eat bread without yeast.
Christians are called to humility …
Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
[1 Corinthians 5:6-8]
We can also see pointers to Jesus, and the community of believers that He would give birth to, in the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
“I am the Bread of Life.”
The Bible says that believers are one with Jesus – one body [Colossians 1:18].
Passover has been fulfilled. Jesus has accomplished redemption for all who believe in Him.
To Jews each day starts at sunset. The Sabbath is the last day of the week – a Saturday. It starts on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Sunday follows the Sabbath. It is the first day of the week. It was the day that Jesus rose from the grave.
When Jesus rose from the dead, the church was born. The disciples became the firstfruits of the harvest – the first grain unto God. They saw the resurrected Lord on Sunday – the first day of the week by Jewish reckoning.
Israel had to bring a grain offering on the day after the Sabbath
The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins …
“When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.
Passover has been fulfilled. Jesus has accomplished redemption for all who believe in Him.
Passover – the meal
Jews were required, under the Law of Moses, to celebrate the Passover every year, to remember the Exodus from Egypt. The Last Supper, when Jesus ate with His disciples, was a Passover meal. Many elements in the ritual of the Passover meal pointed to the sacrifice that would be made by the expected Messiah who would rescue Israel not from slavery in Egypt but from slavery to sin. Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, and Jesus is the Savior of all who believe in Him.
From the time of Moses, Jews have celebrated the Passover in the same way. The celebration is called a ‘Seder’. It means ‘order’ in Hebrew. There is a set order of service that has varied little for more than 3,500 years.
The sequence can be summarized as follows:
From the time of Moses, Jews have celebrated the Passover in the same way.
- A blessing is said over the first of four cups of wine.
- The host washes his hands.
- The middle one of three matzah – that is, unleavened bread – is broken in two. One of the broken halves is hidden until after the meal.
- The Passover story is told.
- A second cup of wine.
- Everyone washes their hands.
- Bitter herbs are eaten. In Exodus 12:8 the Jews were told to eat the lamb with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs. In Hebrew the bitter herbs are called ‘maror’. They are usually grated horseradish.
- The main meal. The main course is roasted lamb.
- A blessing is said after the meal.
- The broken half of matzah, which had been hidden, is brought back to the table. It has to be found by a child. The matzah is broken into pieces and distributed. Everyone eats of the bread.
- A third cup of wine.
- A child opens the door to see if Elijah is there. The Bible says that Elijah would come and precede the Messiah.
- Psalms 113 to 118 – the ‘hallel’, the praise psalms – are sung.
- A fourth cup of wine.
Note that four cups of wine are drunk.
In Exodus, God said through Moses:
“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
I will free you from being slaves to them, and
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”
The four cups of wine represent four promises made to Israel:
- The first cup of wine is called the cup of sanctification
It is to commemorate the promise: “I will bring you out.”
- The second cup is called the cup of plagues
It reflects the plagues that came upon Egypt – and it relates to the second promise: “I will free you from being slaves.”
- The third cup is called the cup of redemption
God says: “I will redeem you.”
- The fourth cup is called the cup of completion
God says: “I will take you as my own people.”
There are four cups of wine in the Passover meal to remind Israel of those four promises. The New Testament account of the Last Supper draws attention to two of those cups, and omits the last. This is significant. In addition, we see the following in the actions of Jesus.
The Seder starts with the first cup of wine – the cup of sanctification: “I will bring you out”. God brings us out of Egypt – out of the world and out of spiritual slavery to sin and the fear of death. Jesus drank this cup of wine with the disciples [Luke 22:17.
The three matzot – the unleavened bread – remind us of the Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Significantly, in the Seder, the middle matzah is taken out and broken in two. Jesus’ body was ‘broken’ for us.
Half is eaten then and half is hidden until later. Understanding God’s promise of salvation for the remnant of Israel, we see a picture of the harvest of Jews who first came to faith and those who will find salvation in a time to come. The broken half is hidden during the Seder and has to be found, later, by a child.
Jesus had said:
I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Childlike faith and trust is the way to God.
Note the appearance of the Matzah. It is easy to see what looks like bruises and stripes, and that it is pierced. Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah:
He was pierced for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
Unleavened bread is bread without yeast. Yeast makes dough puff up. The matzah is also pierced – again, to stop it puffing up. Jesus was meek and mild – the opposite of proud and arrogant.
The second cup of wine is not mentioned in the gospels. It is the cup of plagues, drunk after the Passover story is told but before the meal.
At the point where bitter herbs are eaten, Jesus revealed that He would be betrayed by Judas: “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Me will betray Me” [Matthew 26:20-25].
When the half matzah is found it is broken into pieces, distributed and eaten by everyone. Jesus said, at this point: “Take and eat; this is My body” [Matthew 26:26].
The third cup of wine is the cup of redemption. This is where Jesus announced the New Covenant for the forgiveness of sins [Luke 22:20, Matthew 26:27-28]. He did not drink the fourth cup of wine – the cup of completion. He said that He will drink that cup with us in heaven [Matthew 26:29] at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
They sang the Halley (or praise) psalms ending with Psalm 118 [Matthew 26:30].
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”
“I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.”
“Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.
I will give You thanks, for You answered me; You have become my salvation.”
“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”
When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, at the start of the passion week, the crowds cried out:
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” [Matthew 21:9]
This, together with their cry of “Hosanna to the Son of David!” was acknowledgement of the Messiah. The terms in the Tanach were accepted as Messianic.
Jesus had said to the teachers of the Law and Pharisees: “You will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’” [Matthew 23:37-39].
Jews who have rejected Jesus are waiting for the Messiah to come. He has come. And He is coming again. They will say:
“Baruch ha’ba b’shem Adonai”
“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!