Passover is an annual holy day in the biblical calendar. Commanded by God in the scriptures (Ex. 12; Lev. 23) it is the celebration of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Every year people set aside this time to remember the hardships of life and the faithfulness of God to his people. This is done by clearing your home of anything that contains yeast (which represents sin) and having a special meal in your home in which you retell the Exodus story while eating symbolic foods. It has great significance historically for its role in mankind’s redemption, and it is full of symbolism that makes it easy to share your faith.
God had revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then he used Joseph to preserve Jacob’s descendants while famine struck Canaan. The Hebrews over time went from being honored guests to slaves of the state. God raised up Moses, and Egypt’s king was commanded to free the Israelites. God sent multiple plagues upon Egypt, but it was the final one that is most significant. God was to send the Angel of Death, and whoever’s home did not have lamb’s blood over its doorposts would lose their oldest son. This lamb was to be a substitution for the Hebrew firstborn. The Hebrew phrase in Exodus 12:22 paints a very descriptive picture. Foreshadowing the future Lamb of God, this lamb’s blood was to be applied in a cross-like pattern to their door (from “basin” to “lintel” then the two sides).
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The prophet John identified the lamb well when referring to Jesus. He said, “Behold! The Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:29). Understanding this role, Messiah said plainly, “I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10:15). Furthermore, he took the after-dinner bread (which, in Jewish tradition, represents the lamb) and identified himself with it: “take and eat; this is my body” (Matt. 26:26). In his “last supper” with the disciples before his death, Jesus celebrated the remembrance of Israel’s deliverance while he himself prepared to become “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isa 53:7).
The Passover meal is actually a time of story-telling. A special plate contains ceremonial foods such as bitter herbs, parsley, unleavened bread and the shankbone of a lamb. Each item is then used as an illustration in the telling of the Exodus tale. This becomes a great family tradition which is not only meaningful, but is also an easy way to pass on your faith to your children, neighbors, or whomever you choose to invite.
Modern Passover’s customs date back nearly to the time of the apostles, and it was celebrated by Christians as well as Jews for three centuries before its suppression by the Council of Nicea (AD 325). In spite of its oversight for so long, many Christians are finding great meaning in this biblical memorial meal. This year, why not celebrate this element of ancient faith and, as Messiah said, “do this in remembrance of me”