Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bonus Post for Passover--Jesus in the Seder

A blind man is sitting on a park bench. A Rabbi sits down next to him. The Rabbi is chomping on a piece of matzah. Taking pity on the blind man, the Rabbi breaks off a piece and gives it to the blind man. Several minutes later, the blind man turns, taps the Rabbi on the shoulder and asks, "Who wrote this?"


Judaism is the foundation of Christianity.  We serve a Jewish Jesus whose disciples were Jewish, read a Bible written by Jews, and the early church was completely comprised of Jews until the Gospel was presented to the Gentiles.  To fully grasp the significance of Jesus' last supper on earth, which was the Passover (Seder) dinner, we need to understand the Jewish perspective.

The night before Passover, those celebrating it search their houses and burn anything containing yeast. In the Bible, yeast was equated with pride, sin, and unbelief. Sin breaks relationships with people, but, more importantly, with our Father God. We must search our hearts for any trace of sin to get rid of it in the fire of repentance. 

Just before the Passover meal begins, a child opens a door to invite Elijah to come in because it was prophesied that Elijah would announce the arrival of the Messiah. John the Baptizer came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) to fulfill this prophecy. He told us to “prepare the way for the Lord‘s coming.” With childlike faith, we must open the door of our hearts to prepare to accept our Lord.

Red wine (or grape juice) is drunk from the Kiddush cup four times during the Seder. The first cup is Sanctification. After it is drunk, hands are washed to show we need cleansing from sin. During Jesus' last supper, He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13) at this time to show He would sanctify us completely through His blood that washed our sins away.

The Matzah tash is a pouch with three compartments. Each compartment holds a piece of matzah (unleavened bread). It’s called "the Unity" because it binds the three into one—a vivid illustration of the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only the middle piece (the Son) is taken out. This is because Jesus came to earth, visible to mankind, while the Father and the Holy Spirit remained invisible. "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15).

Photo not mine--unsure of where to give photo credit

The middle piece (representing Christ) is then broken. When Jesus sat down to the Passover dinner with His disciples and broke this bread, He told them, “This is My body broken for you” (Luke 22:19), claiming to be the center piece of the Trinity--the Son of God, the Messiah.

Half of the broken matzah is put back in the Matzah tash. It is called the Bread of Affliction. Matzah bread is pierced and the holes are laid out in stripes with ligher and darker places, like bruises. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He (the Messiah, our Bread of Life) was pierced for our rebellion, bruised for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed by His stripes.”

The other half of the broke matzah, called the Afikomen, is wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden just as Jesus' broken, whipped, bruised, and pierced body was wrapped in a shroud and hidden in a tomb.

The Seder Plate illustrates the story of the Exodus, but it also points us to our Messiah. Sections hold bitter herbs (horseradish--ugh), vegetables (usually parsley) dipped in salt water, and a mushy mixture (usually made of apples & nuts). The bitter herbs represent the bitterness of the Israelite captivity in Egypt, but also reminds us of the bitterness of our captivity to sin. The apple mixture looks like the mud and straw used to make bricks during slavery, and salt water represents tears as they cried to God for deliverance. We, too, cry out to God for deliverance from our bondage to sin.

The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Since then, there have been no sacrifices. The shank bone of a lamb on the Seder plate reminds believers that the Temple sacrifice of an innocent lamb is no longer necessary to pay for our sins. John the Baptizer saw Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29) identifying Jesus as the final Passover Lamb. 

Judgment is the second cup. God sent ten plagues on the unrepentant Egyptians (Exodus 4) as judgment for enslaving, abusing, and murdering His children, the Israelites. The plagues ended with the death of the Egyptians' firstborn. The Israelites were spared this judgment when they killed a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts. Jesus took this cup of Judgement and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20) to identify Himself as the Lamb whose blood, the price of our freedom, was shed to save us from God's judgment. 

Then the meal is eaten. At the end of the dinner, the children are sent to find the Afikomen, the piece of matzah that was hidden earlier. We must seek Jesus with the faith of a child. “If you seek Me, you will find Me if you seek Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). The child who finds the Afikomen is given a gift. When we find Jesus, we receive the gift of forgiveness for our sins, peace, joy, a relationship with God, and eternal life. 

The Afikomen is then broken into pieces and passed around to be eaten. At the Last Supper, Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, 'This is My body, broken for you," (Luke 22:19). He is the Bread of Life that feeds our souls, on our lips and in our hearts.  Romans 10:8-9 says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart...If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  

The third cup is Redemption. Jesus lifted the cup (Luke 22:20) and said “This cup is the new covenant in My blood...” What is the purpose of this new covenant? To know God.  The prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33-34 says,“’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… they will all know Me...’” Jesus’ blood was not just for the forgiveness of our sins, but so that we could be in an actual relationship with God. To know about God is religion, but to know Him is relationship.

The last cup is Praise. "...in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11b). "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done" (Psalm 9:1). "Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name" (Psalm 103:1). Let live live constantly in an attitude of praise in all things with our whole heart because He alone is worthy of it. He is so good!


At a Seder dinner a few years ago, Caleb (my service dog) felt out of place because he didn't have an appropriate head covering, so, he cleverly made one out of the tablecloth.


  1. Beautiful explanation of the symbolism in the Seder. I love how everything in the Old Testament points to Christ. Have you ever done a study of the Tabernacle? Same wonderful symbolism.

    Sounds like you got to go this year...I'm so glad.

    1. We were in Lancaster, PA, last year and missed going to a Seder. Not many Amish and Mennonite Jews out there ;o) I still exhaust easily from the surgery three months ago, so it was such a blessing to be able to go to the Seder dinner this year. SO blessed. I haven't studied the Tabernacle, but it sounds like I should.

  2. It was good to have you there. It was a wonderful Seder dinner.

  3. what a great post! You do have a way with words Pamela Joy and Caleb is so clever