1 Corinthians 5:7-8
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
First Covenant Application:
commemorating the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt through the blood of the Passover Lamb
New Covenant Application:
commemorating the deliverance of God's people from slavery to sin by the blood of Jesus, the ultimate Passover Lamb, which instituted the New Covenant
Jesus' suffering and subsequent death on the cross
Mandated appearance before God (together with Unleavened Bread)
Passover appropriately appears at the beginning of the Levitical calendar. It was the pivotal event that began the journey of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land; in the New Covenant, it is a prophetic symbol of Yeshua (Jesus) being sacrificed on our behalf, causing the destroyer to 'pass over' us, and securing our freedom from sin, thus enabling us to embark on our journey with God in the restoration of His kingdom to our lives. What was accomplished by Jesus' death as the fulfillment of Passover is the cornerstone of the Christian message; so from this perspective, it could be said that the Passover is the most important annual Levitical Feast. Here is the story where the original Passover occurs:
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 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.
12 "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. 13 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. 14 "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do.
17 "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread."
21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. 23 When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down. 24 "Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' 27 then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'" Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
28 The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. 29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
Why would God ask the Israelites to prepare a dinner? And why would he ask them to paint the blood of the lamb on the top of the doorframes and doorposts of their houses? I read an article talking about the fact that there was an ancient Middle Eastern custom where blood was sprinkled on the doorpost and the top of the doorframe whenever guests were expected to arrive. Upon first reading of the above Biblical account, we would assume that the blood was there to protect the people from the deadly finger of God’s wrath—and this is true; but this was also a custom of welcome—in this case, welcome of the presence of the living God. According to the custom, the person entering the home where the blood was sprinkled would see the sign of invitation and step into the home enjoying fellowship with the inside occupants. Similarly, the blood of Jesus that was shed on our behalf does both protect us from God’s wrath and provides the welcome for God the Father, who, upon seeing Jesus’ blood, is able to step beyond our atoned-for sin and have friendship with us.
The events of the original Passover are a miracle in and of themselves, and should not be dismissed or minimized in light of its New Covenant fulfillment. God showed His character, His power, and His love for the nation of Israel in rescuing this tiny nation of 600,000 from what was then the superpower on earth. He led them every step of the way back to their ancestral homeland, providing them miracle after miracle, even though their hearts were stubborn. But He didn't do this just for the Hebrews. He hand-picked this people because they were a microcosm of all humanity--a living picture through whom God showed His love for us all. God wove into His dealings with Israel prophetic pictures of what He has done, is doing, and will do in His redemption of all mankind; and so it is no accident that the entire Passover meal is absolutely jam packed with symbolism pointing to Jesus as the Messiah and God’s plan of redemption for all who worship the God of Israel: not only who God is, but His nature, His love, His mercy, the nature of His relationship with us, etc. etc. It goes on and on. What Christians call The Last Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples was actually the Passover: the standard communion portion of a Christian church service is actually the third cup—the cup of redemption along with the ‘resurrected’ Afikomen.
Below is a list of components for the Feast of Passover and what they mean in their fulfillment by Jesus in the New Covenant:
|Getting rid of yeast in the home (in conjunction with the Feast of Unleavened Bread)||Putting away sin by yielding to God (acquiescence to His Lordship, obedience as an act of worship)|
|The candles||Jesus as the Light of the World|
|The woman of the house who lights the candles||Jesus was born of the virgin Mary|
|The first cup of wine||The promise of sanctification|
|The bowl of water||Water baptism (preparation for redemption and subsequent ministry) and service to one another|
|Parsley in salt water||The goodness of life which was dampened by enslavement to sin and death|
|The Three Matzot||Trinity: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit|
|The Second of the Three Matzot, called the Afikomen (meaning ‘He who comes’), which is pierced, striped, broken in thanks to God, then hidden away under a napkin until it is brought back to the table along with the third cup of wine (the cup of redemption)||Jesus, who was pierced, striped, broken, and hidden away for three days in a tomb before being resurrected. Jesus said about the Afikomen, “This is my body, broken for you…”|
|Horseradish/Bitter herb||The bitterness of the consequences of sin|
|The Kharoset (a sweet apple and nut mixture), eaten together with bitter herbs||The sweetness that comes from God’s grace given during this age until Jesus returns and finishes the establishment of His kingdom (Jesus began the restoration of the kingdom of God; but it will not be fully established until He returns—so we still deal with the bitterness of sin and death in the meantime.)|
|The second cup of wine||The cup of God’s wrath on the earth toward the works of the enemy|
|The Beitzah (a roasted egg)*||Our suffering, rather than being wrath, is a tool which prepares us for our use in the kingdom of God (life perfected in the fire)|
|The Passover Lamb, a year-old lamb without defect (often represented by a shankbone): the blood of which is painted on the entry way to one's home, and the body of which (in Biblical times) is eaten as the main course||Jesus, who was sacrificed for us though He Himself was blameless: when one accepts the New Covenant, he/she symbolically covers the entry way of their heart with Jesus' blood and 'eats' His body (invites the presence of God into Himself)|
|The third cup of wine||The cup of redemption, symbolizing Jesus’ blood that was shed “This cup is the new covenant in my blood…”|
|The fourth cup of wine*||The cup of Elijah, symbolizing three things: 1. The testimony of John the Baptist that Jesus is the Messiah 2. The restoration of Israel in the New Covenant 3. The completion of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth|
|The empty chair*||Anticipation for the return of Elijah, who was to announce the coming of Messiah. Jesus said that this was fulfilled in John the Baptist|
*These items were added to the Passover tradition later on in the history of the Jews; Elijah the prophet lived about 600 years after Moses.
Table created with the HTML Table Generator
The details of the Messianic implications of the Passover are so great that an entire book could be written about the subject. I am also posting the Haggadah that I use with my family so you can see the major points for yourself.
Question: How are we sure that Jesus' death on the cross fulfills the Passover? If Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples and didn't die until the next day, isn't that AFTER the Passover meal? In fact, the account of Jesus' death in John's gospel seems to describe Jesus being crucified on the 14th Nisan, when all the lambs would have been sacrificed. Does this mean that He ate the Passover seder early or not at all?
There is indeed an ostensible difference between the Gospel of John and the 'Synoptic' Gospels--Matthew, Mark, and Luke, when it comes to the story of the crucifixion with regard to the date on the Jewish calendar. Two plausible explanations exist as to how the stories can be reconciled; I explain them and provide my own opinion here.
Regardless of how one reads the Gospels and which chronology they consider accurate, it is important to understand that all four gospels agree:
- that Jesus died on a Friday (John declares outrightly that the next day was a Shabbat, while the Synoptics declare that Jesus was crucified on Preparation Day (for Shabbat), which is Friday)
- on the sequence of events surrounding Jesus' last meal with His disciples, His arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection. The only seeming contradiction is the date (John appears to be one day on the calendar earlier than Matthew, Mark, and Luke)
- that Jesus' death is the fulfillment of the Passover. The Apostle Paul echoes this correlation in 1 Corinthians 5:7.
Jesus Himself attributed the Passover elements of the Afikomen and the cup of redemption to His own body and blood in the institution of the New Covenant; there is no denying that His fulfillment of the Passover was His intent.
Why don't most Christians recognize and celebrate the Passover, then? Unfortunately, during the reign of Constantine 'The Great' (312 AD - 337 AD), at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine outlawed the celebration of the Passover by Christians, saying that Christians should not rely on the Jews for computation of the date for the Festival. So, instead, they chose the pagan festival of Easter as the basis for their computation, and somewhat combined the celebration of Jesus' death and resurrection into one holiday instead of two (see Firstfruits), and in the process, denied Christendom the legacy of understanding how Jesus fulfilled the First Covenant Scriptures.