For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Cor 5:7
Last night we celebrated a Messianic Passover (Seder) dinner in observance of the holiest days on both the Jewish and Christian calendars. I know, Passover was actually Thursday but with work schedules and the meal being 3 hours long, we decided that Saturday night was the best time. It also fit nicely within the 3 day time frame between Passover and Easter. By the way, the alignment of Jewish lunar and Western solar calendars this year gives us an excellent opportunity to observe the 3 day 3 night controversy first hand.
Jesus said, “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt. 12:40) But there’s no way to fit 3 days and 3 nights between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In years like this one when Passover falls on a Thursday it’s easy to figure out how everything really happened and when. (read for all the details)
May I Take Your Order?
The Seder is a combination meal and history lesson celebrated by Jews for thousands of years to commemorate their release from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. It’s the oldest continuously observed religious ceremony in the history of man. The word Seder means “order” and recounts the order of events surrounding their release. A Messianic Seder also shows the incredible way in which Jesus, our Passover Lamb, has released us from the bondage of sin. Its another remarkable example that what’s external and physical in the Old Testament often becomes internal and spiritual in the New. (read ). If you want to learn more about the Seder, you can get a good outline of the entire evening from www.godonthe.net/passover/passover.html.
In the past I’ve conducted Seder Dinners for large groups (100 people or more), but this time it was just two other couples in our home. This is the way it was meant to be. Each family observed the event in their home, Passover being the only Levitical feast that was not conducted by the High Priest at the Temple. The fact that one of the couples doesn’t know much about the Jewish roots of Christianity and had expressed an interest in knowing more about Passover made it even more special.
What’s This All Leading To?
Many significant events in the Old Testament are both historical and prophetic so there are lots of signposts in the Seder narrative pointing to the prophetic fulfillment of the Passover; Jesus our Passover Lamb. The most obvious is our communion celebration, derived entirely from the Passover. The use of bread comes from the three pieces of Matzoh (unleavened bread) used during the meal. The middle piece is removed, broken and hidden, to reappear at the end of the meal where the participants partake of it. It’s called the afikomen, or bread of affliction. Many see these three pieces of matzoh as symbolizing Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son was also taken away, broken and hidden, to reappear later. As Jesus took bread and blessed it, saying, “This is my body which is given for you,” He was holding the afikomen.
The wine, symbolic of His blood shed for the remission of sin is actually the 3rd cup of the Passover, the Cup of Redemption. The afikomen and Cup of Redemption are taken together near the end of the Passover meal. Jesus took the occasion of His last Passover meal to institute this memorial, also known as the Lord’s Supper. Using the 3rd cup and afikomen, He explained the New Covenant and how He would soon complete His part of this covenant removing the barrier between God and man that had existed since man first sinned in the Garden of Eden (Mark 14:22-26).
The four cups of wine consumed during the Passover Meal represent the four promises of Exodus 6:6-7. I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians (Cup of Sanctification), I will free you from being slaves (Cup of Blessing or Plagues), I will redeem you with out stretched arm (Cup of Redemption), and I will take you as my own people and I will be your God (Cup of Praise or Acceptance).
You Said You Wouldn’t Do That Again
As Jesus drank the 3rd cup with His disciples he said He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until the Kingdom of God had come, and they soon departed the Upper Room for the Garden of Gethsemane apparently leaving the Passover dinner unfinished. But just before He died, Jesus asked for a drink, and the guards hoisted up some wine in a sponge for Him to drink. Contradiction? John 19:28 notes that Jesus did this knowing that all was completed, implying His Kingdom had come, and to fulfill Scripture. If this is true then was Jesus actually drinking the 4th cup of the Passover, the Cup of Acceptance, as some believe?
If so then His final act from the cross was to drink the cup that symbolizes God’s 4th promise. “I will take you as my own people and I will be your God.” From that day forward anyone looking to the cross and asking forgiveness would receive it unconditionally and be immediately ushered into God’s forever family. By His selfless act of love, our Lord had accomplished what no amount of sacrifice, ceremony or ritual could ever do. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in (Jesus) and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on Earth or things in Heaven, by making peace through His blood shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19).