On Good Friday, I gave a friend an overdue call (three months late) about something we had talked about in January. Over the course of our conversation, we realised that we both had Easter afternoon free. I shared with her what I saw in Ann Voskamp’s site on a Christian Passover Meal and she shared with me how she had also hoped to spend Easter meaningfully. So after she got her husband’s blessing, we decided to experience the Christian Passover Meal together. It is a sweet blessing to share kindred spirit with faith family.
The word “Passover” came from Exodus 12:13 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.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to find and cook a lamb shank in twenty four hours so I placed an image of a lamb with the caption “Yeshua (“Jesus” in Hebrew), Passover Lamb” instead. Believers are God’s temple who believe and receive Jesus Christ as personal Savior and He has said He will never leave us nor forsake those who are His so I hoped the picture would do.
1. matzah (or Wholewheat Unleavened Bread) : to remind us that the Israelites did not have time to wait for yeast to rise because they had to be ready to move when God said. For Christians, it is a reminder to live lightly for Jesus will return and in a twinkling of an eye, we will all go home. Yeast leavens or puffs up as pride/sin inflate our hearts. We remember Jesus who was without sin. We break the matzah in half because Jesus was broken for us.
2. juice of the vine (wine, grape juice, non-alcoholic wine) – In the centre of the table is placed a goblet of wine (Elijah’s cup) that is reserved by the Jews for the coming of Elijah who was believed to announce the Messiah’s return. In Matt 11:14, John the Baptist was named as the Elijah who was to come; he announced the arrival of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. For Christians, we do not leave the cup untouched but we drink the wine for The Messiah has come to us.
3. sprigs of lush green parsley – Parsley stays green year-round and represents the continual rebirth of growing things. While green reminds of the growth of new life in spring, it serves to remind us of the new life we have in Jesus.
4. horseradish (bitter herbs) “Maror” – In Ex. 12:8, the children of Israel ate bitter herbs. This reminds us of their cruel slavery to Pharaoh. For Christians, it reminds us of our ugly bondage to sin; it also reminds us of the many who have gone before us who have suffered unto death that we may know the good news of Jesus. Most importantly, we think on the suffering of Christ on the cross for all of us, absorbing all our bitter sins.
5. chopped apples and raisins (haroset) – But now we have hope. Because of the blood shed by Jesus, we wipe away our tears for we have new life in Christ; we have been rebirthed into His hope.
6. heavy shank bone of lamb – The Israelites painted the door lintels with the lamb’s blood, that the plague of death will Pass Over them. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. For us Christians, Jesus was a voluntary sacrificial lamb by whose sacrifice the plague of death passes over us.
7. boiled egg – signifies a celebratory offering for a new start for God’s people. As Christians we celebrate rebirth and life eternal which our Messiah, the Lamb of God, has made possible.
8. small dish of salted water – The Israelites wept salty tears for their life of slavery to Pharaoh. As we dip the parsley into the salt water, we remember the cost of our new and eternal life as Christ drank the bitter vinegar on the cross.
Inadequate representation of the Crown of Thorns (toothpicks inserted by participants while recalling and repenting of sin), Linen to represent what was left in the tomb. (For Jesus was not in the tomb. He was risen!) The nails on this table are a petite version of the actual nails that would have been used in Jesus’s cruel death. The thick fabric represents that curtain of the temple that was torn supernaturally from top to bottom when Jesus died.
Beth Moore mentioned in her talk about the Passover celebrated at The Last Supper that it was the only time that there was a lamb ON the table and AT the table. (Here is a previous post about that).
There are four toasts of the wine/ grape juice which correspond to God’s Four Covenant Promises to His people. Please take note of Promise #3 which is the position of how God redeemed us through the crucifixion of His Son.
Ex 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and (Promise 1:) I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. (Promise 2:) I will free you from being slaves to them, and (Promise 3:) I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 (Promise 4:) I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
This fourfold covenant promise is ours when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. God will bring us out of every yoke/bondage. He will free us from slavery to sin and the enemy. He will redeem us. He will take us as His own people!
In the traditional Passover, the participants would reply “Dayenu!” (Hebrew for “It would have been enough”) to the list of how repeatedly God went an extra mile to show His favour to His people, the Israelites. It would have been enough if He had just done one mighty act but He always did more. (“Had He brought us out of Egypt but not execute judgment on our enemies” “Dayenu!”, “Had He given us their possessions but not divide the sea for us”, “Dayenu!”, etc.) At the Last Supper, at the repeated declaration of “Dayenu!”, Jesus aware of His coming suffering and death, knew that all of God’s past mighty acts to show His favour would NOT have been enough. Jesus needed to suffer and die to pay the penalty of our sins because without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. He would be the once-for-all Lamb of God for the atonement of our sins, for obtaining eternal redemption.
- Hebrews 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
- Hebrews 9:26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
- Hebrews 10:10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
As humans, we could not ever gain righteousness by doing good or obeying the law for if we are guilty of even one (lustful thought, unforgiveness, fibbing), we are guilty of all. We could not achieve a good enough score to earn salvation. God knows we could not save ourselves. That’s why Christ had to die. Gal 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Jesus at that table knew that…it WAS NOT enough. Jesus knew He had to die to complete God’s work. And He did pay it in full. That’s the original meaning of one of His last words, “It is finished” = Tetelastai, an accounting term to mean “Paid In Full.” All the wages of our sin: Paid in Full by His death.
As I ponder the glorious impact of Easter, God’s gracious gift of salvation, I am enthralled by the passion of Jesus, His amazing love for you and me. As a voluntary sacrificial Lamb, He had the power at any point to not push through with His own death.
John 10:17-19 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
But He lay down His own life so that by His death, you and I may have eternal life.
Dear Jesus, You died for us even while we were yet sinners, totally opposed to You. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You for dying on the cross for our sins and giving us eternal life when we believe and receive You. We confess You as our personal Savior and Lord. Please help us to live our lives in a way that honours You!