• Pastor Jeff Needleman

Christ Our Passover Part 3

Christ Our Passover Part 3

Welcome to part 3. We’re continuing investigating the parallels of Passover and Christ our Passover! Let’s start with the sacrificial lamb’s blood painted on the door posts of the Hebrew slaves. This identified God’s people and saved them from physical death. I’ll read portions of:

Ex 12:5-13 NIV The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, slaughter them at twilight. Then they [the Hebrews] 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. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord's Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 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. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

The 1st time I went into a church, I heard the pastor say “under the blood of Jesus”. Eww-that just sounded creepy and disgusting. But now I have a deeper understanding. The blood represents Jesus’ sacrifice that covers our sin and saves us from God’s wrath. I love the parallel of the sacrificial lamb of Passover saving God’s people from death physically, and Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God- saving God’s people from death spiritually!

Over course of history, so many elements have been added into the Passover celebration that the meal could last 3-4 hours. As a young kid I hated it. I was usually seated against the wall, so I couldn’t sneak out or escape. & I would have to crawl underneath the table just to use the facilities. While I grew up physically celebrating Passover, I grew up spiritually celebrating Jesus’ last Passover.

1 well known element added by Jesus’ day was a wine cup refilled 4 times to help recall different parts of the Passover story. 3 of the 4 cups have varying symbolisms, but most often represent Sanctification, Deliverance & Praise! But the 3rd cup is always the same. This is the cup of Redemption that Jesus offered His disciples at the Last Supper. It’s this cup we symbolically use during Communion.

Now my favorite part of the Passover was the Afikomen, an integral part of the Seder! Its symbolism is unavoidably loud and clear! The Afikomen consists of 3 pieces of Matzoh hidden in a napkin or a beautiful bag made specifically for this purpose. During the Seder, the leader breaks the middle piece in 2. He sets aside the larger portion as the Afikomen.

Now sometime during the evening, the Afikomen is hidden and a reward offered to the 1st child who finds it. Alternatively, if a child could steal it, they’d received a ransom for its return. Now for me, depending on which Uncle was holding the Seder, it could be quite profitable.

But whatever the case, the Seder can’t be completed until its return because the closing portions of the Passover involves breaking the Afikomen into small pieces and sharing it with everyone. Can you see the beauty of the parallel? Jesus broke the bread, and shared it with His disciples saying- take, eat, for this is my Body… broken for your salvation. The Afikomen represents Jesus’ body!

An associate of mine from Jews for Jesus, Rich Robinson, clarified the symbolism of the Afikomen. One of its Hebrew definitions is derived from a word meaning "the 1 who has arrived."

There’s a striking parallel between what is done to the middle matzoh, the Afikomen or the 1 who has arrived, & what was done to Jesus. The Afikomen is broken, wrapped in a linen cloth, hidden and later brought back. In the same way, Jesus was broken, wrapped in linen, buried, and resurrected 3 days later.

A please notice the symbolism in the 3 matzos. They represent the tri-une nature of God; The Father, The HS, and the Son. Jesus the Afikomen, Jesus our Passover, our Messiah, broken for us.

In my last video, I used the Hebrew word Pesach, which is the Jewish name for Passover. In its basic form it means to be exempt, but exempt doesn’t mean ignored! The complete opposite! The exemption comes from a place of compassion. This wonderfully describes Jesus’ compassion for us, and our exemption from eternal punishment.

So, the Lord’s Supper and the Passover Seder share many common elements – they should because the Lord’s Supper is the Passover meal! So I pray you see and appreciate the deep and significant richness of imagery. They both celebrate freedom; Passover the physical freedom from bondage of slavery to others, and the Lord’s Supper the spiritual freedom from bondage and slavery to sin.

They both celebrate the unity of the participants; as grateful believers in the Lord and what He’s done for us! Passover celebrates the physical death that passed over the Hebrew homes because they were identified by the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb.

Likewise, the Lord’s Supper celebrates the spiritual death that passed over us because we’re identified by the blood of our sacrificial lamb who willingly went to the cross meant for us. Coincidence? I think not… this is God working anonymously. Just as God showed His love for His people through the 1st Passover, Jesus symbolically showed His disciples…us, His love for us through His death and resurrection.

There’s 1 last tradition I’d like to share with you. Our Passover meals always had an extra place setting and cup at the table; this was the Cup of Elijah. Tradition dictates that towards the end of the meal the children were sent to open the door to see if Elijah would appear to announce the coming of the Messiah. The book of Malachi 4:5-6 NCV, tells us that: “God will send you Elijah the prophet before that great and terrifying day of the Lord's judging. Elijah will help parents love their children and children love their parents. Otherwise, I will come and put a curse on the land."

Now once, when I was quite young, I opened and closed the door and then shuffled back to the table. Then suddenly, the door blew open! My dad said; It must be Elijah! I was little and it scared me. But I’m sure that it was the wind that blew the door open… I’m sure of it. Really…

The Gospels state that John the Baptist came in the power and spirit of Elijah. When John stood baptizing in the Jordan River, he looked up, saw Jesus and announced His arrival! John 1:29 ESV "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world." AMEN? And God has called each of us to be like John the Baptist and Elijah in proclaiming Jesus to the world!

Although I only shared a few of the parallels of Christ and the Passover, I pray that you see it as more than just a simple explanation of a commemorative meal. It’s the promise of redemption and liberation from the bondage of sinful lives both now and for all eternity. It is an object lesson of the life and mission of Christ, our Passover, the Lamb of God “Who takes away the sin of the world."

As I close, let me share that sometimes my faith moves into doubt. I see a post-Christian world that’s divided, hurtful and filled with pain, hurt & pestilence. A world without love or grace for one another and falling apart. I begin to question if this whole Christianity thing is made up. I assume that doubts assail others just as it does me.

But reminders like Christ’s reflected through the Passover reaffirm and encourage my faith. Reminders like this solidify my belief that Jesus is real and Active & Participatory in His creation, & in our lives! That He is the actual cure and relief for what ails our world. And all, all - are given the option of choosing Him. If you have not, I pray that today will be your Palm Sunday, your selection day, your day of choosing Jesus as Lord of your life, and Savior for all eternity.

Be blessed this Holy Week, during which Jesus’ passion for us played itself out. I pray it will play itself out in your lives. If you would like to talk about this… just contact me!

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