Tonight at church we did a Passover Seder in place of our normal Bible study on Thursday night. I have participated in a seder before, but this night was special. We are hosting the community Good Friday service tomorrow night to commemorate the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) and tonight we played the parts of his disciples as they gathered the night before he was to die. I told our people that I make a pretty poor substitute for Jesus, but it was my responsibility to lead the meal.
For those who have never seen, or better yet experienced, a Passover seder, it is an eye opening event. I can’t do justice to the night’s festivities with any description, but I will say that there were several moments that were so powerful and meaningful to me. The first came when it was time to take out the matzah that represents the afikomen. I had the three pieces in a linen cloth and took them out. The matzah is unleavened bread and in the three pieces we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in unity; the trinity of God in one. The middle piece is removed and broken in half, and to quote from the haggadah:
Just as the middle piece of the bread of the affliction is broken, Messiah, too, was afflicted and broken. One half is now called the afikomen – “the coming one.” It is wrapped in a white cloth just as Messiah’s body was wrapped for burial.
The matzah is pierced and striped and the comparison to Yeshua the Messiah and the death He would die is hard to miss. He was pierced for us and His back bore the stripes of punishment.
As I wrapped that cloth and prepared to hide it away (even as I type this now), I was nearly overcome with emotion in remembrance of the sacrifice that Christ had made for us. That night, as He celebrated this meal with His disciples, He was acting out what was about to happen to him. He knew what was coming. He knew better than anyone there why they did this every year. This was His body that He wrapped in linen and hid away. As I said the blessing in Hebrew at that point in the meal, I swear to you that I could feel the Lord’s presence with us in the room. I felt as if I was in that upper room that night.
After the eating of the meal, we came to the time to find the afikomen. My kids scrambled around the room to find the hidden piece of broken matzah wrapped in linen. This piece of matzah symbolizes the “Passover Lamb” as I have written before. As I passed it down the table for everyone to take a piece to eat and read the blessing again in Hebrew, I was overcome again by emotion. As I read from the Scripture, that Jesus at this point of the meal said to his disciples, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” It was another moment, pulled out of time. We were participating in His death and even more so in His time.
It is immediately followed in the meal by the cup of Redemption. This is of course, no accident. God deliberately designed this for all time. His people had demonstrated the plan of salvation every year for 1500 years give or take, until Jesus arrived on the scene and brought it to pass. This cup symbolizes the “blood of the Passover lamb” and it was this cup that Jesus held up and blessed when He said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Again, as I pronounced the blessing in Hebrew, I felt another moment out of time. We were a part of the supper with Messiah and the disciples. What a mighty God we serve, who laid His plan out in plain sight for all who have eyes to see it.
The first time I ran into someone who told me that he kept Passover as a non-Jew intead of celebrating Easter, I thought there was something a little off with him. I know he reads the blog quite often and only seldom comments, but I talked to him tonight and again felt the gratitude for his patience with me when I was being a little silly. Brothers and sisters, I must tell you that keeping the Passover is not a legal requirement. As Gentiles, we are not familiar with and are not bound to the strictures of the Law of Moses, but as God’s children, it is our privilege to be able to share in His table with joy and to come into His presence with thanksgiving in our hearts. I didn’t celebrate the Passover seder with our church to be a better Christian. We did it to spend a few moments with God in the heart of His plan as it has been told for millenia before us and as it will echo through the time remaining on this earth.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe. May your name be praised forever and ever through those who have come into your family by the grace offered through Your Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ). AMEN!