My Passover Haggadah
Why Are We Doing This?
Leader: Why are we celebrating the Passover?
In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Paul recounts the detail of Luke's Gospel in Luke 22:19-20 where Jesus says, "do this in remembrance of me." While Paul is referring to the practice of taking communion that had become commonplace by this time, the original reference was to the Passover feast—and so Jesus was asking His disciples to celebrate the Feast remembering what He did for them—and so that's what we're doing today. Paul had earlier in this letter declared that Christ, our Passover Lamb, had been crucified, and so we should keep the Festival with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor. 5:6-8)
As we will see later on in the Seder, we who are non-Hebrew believers in Jesus have been grafted into the nation of Israel as part of God's chosen people (we haven't replaced them; we have become adopted into them). So, we are included in everything that was promised to them—and their story has become our story. This is not just a rote religious exercise, but a commemoration of God's love and faithfulness toward all of us in the rescue of His people.
On the first Passover, God was about to save the Jews from Pharaoh in Egypt and bring them in freedom to the Promised Land; but encoded in this feast, God wove symbols of another kind of freedom that He would ultimately procure for us by Jesus’ death—the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples to commemorate what He was about to do—die for the sins of all people. In fact, the Passover is where Jesus instituted the New Covenant with us, and so it is important for us to see the context in which He did so.
God told His people to celebrate the Passover as long as time continues (Leviticus 23) and He did not tell His people to stop in the New Covenant. The reason for this is because the Passover is one of seven 'stops' on the roadmap of redemption—a series of required observances in the Mosaic Law designed to foreshadow God's redemptive acts in history. As a whole, they show us not just what has happened but what is yet to come.
Woman: Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has set us apart by Your Word, the eternal Light of the World. [Woman lights candles as she prays]
Leader: As the candles for this festival of redemption are lit by the hand of a woman, we remember that Jesus our Redeemer, the Word of God made flesh and Light of the World, was born by a woman and became man.
As for the meaning of the candles: God told His people to celebrate His feasts, including the Passover, in order to both remember what God has already done and to observe what God is doing in their midst. Remembrance and observation: that’s what these two big candles mean on the ends. I have also placed a seven-branch menorah at the center of the table; this stands for the eternal presence of God in the Temple—the Light of the World who is Jesus. It has seven “lampstands” which represent the people of God, three “baskets” which represent the Trinity, and seven flames, which represents Jesus shining through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. [For a 'twelve-tribes' menorah] The symbols on the front and the back of the menorah represent the twelve tribes of Israel, which in turn represents all the people of God. [For a Messianic Seal menorah] The small menorah, Star of David, and fish symbol represents that you and I are now part of Israel because of Jesus.
Cup of the Promise of Sanctification
When the people of Israel found themselves as slaves in Egypt, and when the time was right, God made four promises to His people in Exodus 6:6-7:
“I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians…I will free you from being slaves…I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”
We're going to be examining these four promises throughout the Seder, symbolized by four glasses of wine (or in our case, grape juice).
The first promise is the cup of sanctification. The people were under the direct rule of the Egyptian people, who were oppressing them. God was going to reclaim the people's identity by moving them out from under the Egyptians and restoring them into their own nation under Himself. Here’s another way that God showed His people this promise: most of us know that our original ancestors, Adam and Eve, sinned in the garden of Eden, and that God promised to bring a Savior, right? The first cup of the Passover represents God’s promise to set us apart from the world and make us His own people. It tells us that He is going to change us from being self-worshipers to being God-worshipers. Just as He saved the Israelites from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land, so God is bringing us from slavery to sin and is giving us freedom, holiness, and life in relationship with Him. On the Passover of His death, Jesus said about this cup, [Leader holds up the cup] “Blessed are You O LORD our God, King of the Universe who brings forth fruit from the vine.” Then He said to His disciples, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves, for I tell you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” The kingdom of God is the relationship we have between us and God Himself, that lasts for eternity. It is the culmination of our Exodus journey.
Let’s drink of this promise together!
Leader: All right. Now we’re going to prepare to eat. As God said in Psalm 24:3-5,
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD and who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and who has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
Just as water baptism prepares us for our life in Jesus, so the washing of our hands prepares us for the partaking of the Passover Lamb. [Leader washes hands] Also, we remember Jesus’ servant attitude as he served His disciples in the washing of their feet. In the same way, I will serve you.
[Leader holds the bowl and walks around to each person, allowing them to wash their hands.]
Leader: Sin is a terrible thing. It separated us from God; it corrupted life as we know it and made it hard. God painted a picture of this for us in that the life of the Israelites as slaves in Egypt was really hard. They cried, and their cry came up to God, and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and God looked upon His people and felt their pain.
This herb, called Karpas, represents the beautiful, fresh, clean life that God created. This salt water represents the tears that have been shed over the sorrow of sin. We remember that life is sometimes immersed in tears. Take your parsley, dip it in the salt water and eat it now.
Young child: On all other nights, we eat regular bread. On this night, why do we eat only matzah?
Leader: It is our privilege and duty to answer the questions raised by our children concerning this Passover feast. On all other nights we eat bread with yeast in it; but on Passover we eat only matzah—that is, unleavened bread—for two reasons:
The first is that the unleavened bread represents God's provision to us in our affliction. "...in Me you will have peace. In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) The Scriptures record that the Israelites were to prepare the Passover in haste, because they would be soon rescued. Exodus 12:39 says they did not have time for their bread to rise, and so when it was baked, it remained flat. In the New Covenant, this reminds us that we we must seize the opportunity to embrace God's salvation. We must not wait until all the conditions are perfect, because we are never guaranteed a tomorrow. God grants us His provision today, right in the midst of our troubled world.
Of course, earlier in Exodus 12 (verses 8 and 14-20), God had clearly commanded the people not to eat yeast or to even have it in their homes during this time, so leavened bread is not only the result of hasty preparation. The Scriptures show yeast as a picture of sin; God also told the Israelites to celebrate another feast called Unleavened Bread, which starts on the day of Passover and lasts for another seven days, for a total of eight. In preparation of the Passover and the Unleavened Bread feasts, the people of God were told to clean their houses and get rid of all yeast from their homes. The second reason we eat unleavened bread at this time is because it represents our commitment to get rid of sin from our lives and live as God wants us to live, which is also symbolized in baptism in keeping with repentance, just as John the Baptist (and later, Peter the Apostle) told the people to repent, believe, and be baptized.
Traditionally, the Jews would pronounce a disowning of any leaven that they had missed in the cleaning of their home; this is very much a picture of what happens as we commit ourselves to God's redemptive process of sanctification: as true worshipers of God, we desire in our hearts to obey the LORD in everything He asks us to do; but we see our failure to live up to God's righteous standard in the Law, and so we are driven to depend on God for our salvation and help. As we do so, in His mercy He gives us grace--He forgives us and gives us His presence, His strength, and His Spirit's power to be holy even as He is holy. It goes like this: Any leaven that may still be in the house, which I have or have not seen, which I have or have not removed, shall be as if it does not exist, and as the dust of the earth. And we add, Just as you have removed our sins as far as the east is from the west, and remember it no more.
[Leader lifts the plate of three Matzot]
Leader: This is the bread of affliction, the bread which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat, as Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry…” Let all who are in need share in the hope of Passover.
The three Matzot represent the Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who are all part of our One God, YHVH. Traditionally, the three matzot are placed in a linen cover with three segments that is referred to as the 'echad'. Echad means 'one' in Hebrew, and the principal statement of Judaism that is read in the synagogue every Shabbat is "Sh'ma Yisra'el, [YHVH] Eloheinu [YHVH] Echad" ("Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one.")
Leader: [Point to each matzah] The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—note how it is the middle matzah that is taken for this step. [Remove the middle matzah and show it to all] This piece of matzah is called the Afikomen, which is a Hellenistic Jewish phrase meaning “He who comes”; this is an obvious reference to the Messiah. See how the matzah is striped and pierced. As it says in Isaiah, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes (wounds) we are healed.”
Jesus took this piece of matzah, broke it [break the middle Matzah], and said, “Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. This is my body, broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”
Leader: Jesus’ body was afflicted and broken. It was wrapped in white linen and hidden in a tomb, just like I will hide the Afikomen… All the kids close their eyes!
[Leader hides the Afikomen]
Leader: Ok, you can open your eyes. The kids can hunt for the Afikomen in a little bit.
[Pass the other half of the matzah along with the rest of the matzot; each person breaks off two pieces—don’t eat them yet!!!]
Young Child: On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but why is it on Passover we eat bitter herbs?
Leader: When Jacob (Israel) and his sons first traveled to Egypt to avoid a famine, the conditions were not hard; it was only later that they resulted in slavery for the Israelites. Likewise, when the temptation to sin first confronts us, it seems pleasant and good; but if we capitulate to it, it brings bitterness, slavery, and death. This chazeret, or lettuce, begins with a good taste but becomes bitter as it lingers, as a warning reminder of the deceptiveness of temptation.
Leader: Pharaoh made the Israelites' slavery even more cruel by forcing them to make bricks without straw. Even after they were free and on their way to the Promised Land, their journey was frought with bitterness, difficulty, and struggle. They were not truly free until they entered into the Promised Land in obedience to the LORD, depending on Him for the victory over their enemies. In the same way, the sin nature is a hard taskmaster. It causes us to struggle in our obedience to the LORD. Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has set us apart by Your Word, and have commanded us to eat the bitter herbs reminding us of the struggle against the sin nature. This horseradish is called Maror in Hebrew; it means bitter. Take one piece of matzah, put a piece of lettuce on it, and then some horseradish on the top—and let's eat it together.
[Everyone eats their piece of matzah with lettuce and horseradish]
Young Child: On all other nights, we do not dip our herbs; but on Passover, we dip them twice. Why do we do this?
Leader: God had given the people the promise that He would save them. Even when Pharaoh made their slavery difficult (making their mortar without straw) and during their journey, God's presence was with them. At every turn, He provided grace, deliverance, and sustenance for His people, and eventually gave them the inheritance He promised. The Kharoset is a sweet dish that reminds us of the reward of living in His grace, even in the midst of our struggle. Let us eat the sweet reminder of His grace together, which covers the bitterness of our struggle as we depend on God by faith. Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe. Your mercies are new every morning; you have bestowed Your grace on us; You have delivered us by the blood of the Passover Lamb; You are with us as we journey from the slavery of self-worship to freedom of a life in You; and we rest in Your promise, knowing that you will one day make all things completely new, never to be corrupted again. Amein!
[Everyone makes the same sandwich as before, but tops it with Kharoset. Then they eat it]
Cup of wrath
Young Child: On all other nights, we sit or recline at the table. Why do we recline tonight?
Leader: Once we were slaves to sin, but now we are free!!!
Leader: Now the Pharaoh didn’t let the people of God go easily, just as the sin nature does not easily let us go. God had to bring His wrath on Egypt in order to get the people out and to provide justice for them—just like He will have to bring judgment to this world in order to finally finish our redemption and give us justice. God brought plagues to Egypt—plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, beasts, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death. At the end of this season of the earth's history, God will bring plagues against the earth in fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets. This second cup is the cup of God’s wrath against sin and death. As we take of the second cup, let us dip our little finger and bring a drop out of the cup in recognition of the fact that some will choose to remain enslaved to sin and death and will perish with them.
[Everyone dips a finger, drops the drop, then drinks]
Whereas God will pour out His wrath on the unbeliever, we know that sometimes God allows suffering in our lives as believers for a purpose. The Beitzah is a tradition that was added during the Jews’ captivity in Babylon when all many had to offer for a sacrifice was a roasted egg. They chose the egg because in Babylonian culture it symbolizes life, which is where the tradition of Easter eggs also comes from. This is a lesser sacrifice, a burnt offering of worship; it is not the perfect sacrifice God required when He mandated the Lamb. Similarly, if we are to take the journey with God, a lesser sacrifice is required--not for salvation, but out of necessity. We must yield ourselves to the altar; to repent and say, "Yes, LORD"; to die to our own self-worship agenda and receive the Holy Spirit who makes us new. As Rabbi Shaul (Paul the Apostle) said in Romans 12:1:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
The fact that the beitzah was roasted under fire can be represented by the fact that our lives are being sanctified like gold through a refiner’s fire; when it comes out the other side, it is perfected for God’s use [crack and open the egg]. Like Job, when we share in the sufferings of Christ, we give glory to God, we advance the kingdom of God, and we spit in the face of the devil, our enemy.
The Passover Lamb
Leader: Ok. Let’s read about the Passover Lamb. Exodus 12:7-10 says, “…Then 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. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.”
First, let's talk about the blood. An ancient Middle Eastern custom was practiced where the blood of an animal was placed on the door posts and the lintel of a house’s doorway to welcome a guest. It is interesting that God chose a custom of welcome to serve as a ward against His wrath—which is where the word Passover comes from: verse 13 of Exodus 12 says, "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." When God saw the welcome, His wrath passed over the people of Israel, but His presence entered the home. Not so for the Egyptians; they received the full brunt of God’s anger, and the firstborn of every man and animal who was not covered by the blood of the Lamb was killed instantly. Today, the Jewish people place a mezuzah at the entrance to their homes to represent the blood of the Passover Lamb, as a sign to remember what God did for them. They slant the top of the mezuzah toward the inside of their home to welcome God's presence inside. Obviously, the blood of the Passover Lamb represents Jesus' shedding of blood, sacrificed for us to provide us deliverance from God’s wrath and to reconcile us to Himself. His blood is what paid for our sin.
As for the body, there are a couple of interesting points: first, the actual bones of the Passover Lamb were not to be broken: Exodus 12:46 says, "It is to be eaten in one house. You may not take any of the meat outside the house, and you may not break any of its bones." John records in John 19:33 that none of Jesus' bones were broken, and this further fulfills Psalm 34:20: "He [YHWH] protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken."
Yet we already saw through the beitzah that fire represents suffering. Hebrews 13:11-12 relates Jesus' death to the Passover Lamb using the suffering analogy:
The high priest carries the blood of animals into the Most Holy Place as a sin offering, but the bodies are burned outside the camp. And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.
Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples on Thursday night, identifying with the Passover Lamb, even as He was betrayed to death by one of His own. As He was beaten, His blood was spilled inside the city; His body was taken outside Jerusalem on Friday where he suffered to death on the cross. He was buried before sundown, and fulfilled the Passover Feast in Himself. Now for the symbolism of our eating the Lamb's meat:. many times Jesus said as He did in John 6:54, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Does this mean that somehow we have to literally eat Jesus' body and drink His blood? After all, in His discourse on His being the Bread of Life in John 6:35-58, Jesus said that his body and blood were real food and drink, and that no one who refused to eat and drink it would have life in them. This is how the Romanized Church interprets this passage and so they believe that in the Eucharist, Jesus is providing His literal blood and body to us and that we must take it as a sacrament in order to have eternal life. But the Law of Moses shows us that eating human flesh and drinking blood is an abomination to God; so what we see is that this means Jesus wants us to accept His sacrifice for our sin in obedience to the Father’s commandment.
Another fascinating detail is that Jews read the Torah parasha Acharei Mot during the season of Passover, creating a relationship between Passover and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Both were sacrifices that resulted in the salvation of the nation—and this is no accident. For those of us who are in the Messiah, we see that these two feasts are 'bookends': Passover was fulfilled by Jesus' death, providing the atoning work; Yom Kippur is when we will stand before God for our deeds, and this atonement is applied.
So as we eat the Passover Lamb in celebration of what Jesus has done for us, let us remember His great sacrifice on our behalf. Is your very food the presence of God in your life, provided by what Jesus has given to us? Have you painted His blood on the door posts of your heart, welcoming in the presence, rule and reign of Almighty God? If not, today is the day of salvation. See me after the Seder if you have any questions about this. Let's pray...
Blessed are You, O Lord, King of the Universe, for You have, in Your mercy, supplied all our needs. You have given us Jesus the Messiah for the forgiveness of sin, deliverance from bondage and everlasting life. Hallelujah!
Communion (Firstfruits and the Cup of Redemption)
Leader: All right, who wants to find the Afikomen? [Send the kids to get the Afikomen. Reward the one who finds the Afikomen with a treat, or a dollar]
[Unwrap the Afikomen] As the children find joy in finding the Afikomen, so we share in the joy of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection sealed His victory over sin and death, and by doing so seals our victory as well. Jesus’ resurrection fulfilled the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits, where the people would come and offer the firstfruits of their barley field to the Lord. Jesus, having conquered death, is the firstfruits from the dead; and the rest of us will follow at the end-time resurrection.
So here we are with the Afikomen, which Jesus earlier had declared to be His body along with the third cup, taken after supper, which is the cup of redemption. “…after supper, Jesus took the cup, saying, ‘Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth fruit from the vine. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”
In these symbols of the Passover, we see that Jesus inaugurated the New Covenant on our behalf. This New Covenant, mentioned by name only in Jeremiah 31:31-34, is as follows:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my Law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jesus tied all together the New Covenant (which addresses all four promises of the Passover), His Body as both the Passover Lamb and the Afikomen, and His blood as both the blood on the doorposts and the cup of redemption. Not only does this bring us into unity with God, it also brings us into unity with each other. As we eat the Afikomen, let us celebrate the communion we have in the body and blood of our Lord.
[Eat the Afikomen and drink the cup]
Cup of the Testimony (Elijah)
Leader: The last cup is a tradition that was added later on during the time that Judah was in Exile in Babylon. After the people reached the Promised Land, they became unfaithful to the LORD and so God temporarily removed them from the land as He stipulated in the First Covenant. But He also promised in Ezekiel 36:22-38 (a companion passage to Jeremiah 31:31-34) that He would bring them back into their land, and they would never be removed again. This New Covenant would be brought in by Messiah; and the Jews knew that a prophet would come in the power and spirit of Elijah to testify concerning the Messiah's identity. Jesus said this was fulfilled in John The Baptist. We testify along with John that Jesus is Messiah and Lord! Now that Jesus the Messiah has been sacrificed as the perfect Passover Lamb, and we have begun our Exodus journey through Him by the Holy Spirit with God, we await for Messiah to return and complete the last promise of the Passover, which is also the promise of the New Covenant: the New Jerusalem will be established and we will never be uprooted again, enjoying fellowship with God in His kingdom forever.
Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, who accomplishes all things according to Your Word. Let us drink the cup of testimony together.
[All drink the cup]
Come again quickly, Lord Jesus, and return the peace of Your people in the New Jerusalem.