“Jesus in the Passover Seder” was the theme of Elim Community Fellowship’s (ECF) first Passover Seder event held on Friday April 16 at the Savannah United Church Hall. For thousands of centuries the Feast of the Passover has been kept by the Jews. It was instituted by God in Exodus chapter 12 as a memorial celebration to be observed each year on the 14th day of the month of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar. The Children of Israel were commanded by God to keep it as a solemn observance throughout their generations in remembrance of how he miraculously delivered them from Egyptian bondage of slavery to Pharaoh after many centuries. The Passover was again reiterated by God in Leviticus chapter 23 when God told Moses, ‘These are my feasts!’. In this text God identified seven other feasts along with the Passover, to be general convocations when his people should gather unto him in celebration of them. These feast days are known as Appointed/Sacred Times (Moedims in the Hebrew texts), and specific instructions were given how these were to be observed as well as the day & date of each of the observances. It is amazing how the Passover, instituted 1500 years before Christ has withstood the test of time and is being observed even some 2000 years after Christ, by Jews & Christians alike around the world. Historically, this year’s Passover has been special as it falls on the same day of the first Passover in Exodus as well as on the same day that Jesus was crucified.
During Passover observances, the Exodus story is retold as God commanded. The ancient Jewish Rabbis over time has managed to develop a very interesting method of telling the Exodus story using the Passover Seder plate. The element of the Seder plate which will be discussed below, guides the order of “the telling” of how each event was played out in history. However, unknown to the Jewish Rabbis, the Seder elements turned out to be giant arrows pointing to Messiah, the Lamb of God who would come and take away the sin of the world. It is no coincidence how traditions and scriptures has intertwined to reveal Yeshua (Jesus) our Messiah as well as to deliver to the world, a crisp, clear message of salvation. In the Jewish households the Passover Seder is usually led by the Papa, Grandpa or head of the family. However, in Christian gatherings, it is mostly led by the Pastor. This local Passover Seder was led by Delfene (Judy) Gould, the pastor of Elim Community Fellowship.
In this Passover event we followed Jesus’ last Passover or Last Supper which took place in Jerusalem as recorded in Luke chapter 22. Attendees participated with the dipping and eating of the Matza (unleavened bread) as well as drinking of the four cups of wine (grape juice) as they re-lived Jesus’ final moments before his crucifixion. In the process they ate some Jewish foods, learned some Hebrew words as well as one of the prayers that Jesus would have prayed. The hall with its white and blue décor, messianic background music, lit candles as well as the Jewish minora and flag not only sets the tone for this reenactment Passover but also highlighted the Jewishness of Yeshua our Messiah (Jesus Christ). It is also our way of saying we, believers in Jesus, stand in solidarity with Israel and we are also admonished to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Keeping Jesus in his Jewish context also brings out the richness of the scripture, originally written in Hebrew & Greek.
The answer to the question of how Passover relates to Christian believers lies in each element of the Passover Seder. This understanding is very crucial for us non-Jews hence their symbolic meanings in a nut shell. The Seder plate consists of elements such as Karpas (parsley), Charoset (a mixture of grated apples, nuts, cinnamon & honey), Maror (bitter herbs), Zeroá (roasted lamb bone) & a bowl of salt water, beitzah (a roasted egg) and Chazeret (another type of bitter herb). The last two were omitted due to time constraints. During the Passover, we drank four cups of wine (grape juice) each representing one of the four promises of deliverance that God gave to the Israelites while they were still in bondage. The promises were from Exodus 6:6-7 the Cup of Sanctification, the Cup of Deliverance, The Cup of Redemption and the Cup of Praise. Two cups were drunken before the meal and two after (as in Luke 22:20, which states ‘Likewise, he took the cup after supper saying…”).
Another very important element of all Passover Seders is the Yachatz (Matza) (unleavened bread). The Matza is usually kept in a three sectioned pouch called the Matsutoshan. Believers in Yeshua (Jesus) sees this as symbolic of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Matza is without leaven and is therefore a symbol of sinlessness. The middle Matza is removed from the Matsutoshan to reveal that it is pierced with holes and that there are stripes which represents the body of Jesus, his sinlessness and suffering. This matza is broken, and one piece now called the Afikomen, which is said to mean which is to come. The afikomen is wrapped in a linen cloth and hidden away until after the meal…such amazing significance of our Messiah’s death and burial.
Prior to the breaking of the Matza, the Karpas representing spring and new beginning, is dipped in salted water and eaten. This is in remembrance of the tears shed while in slavery as well as their passage through the sea (a symbol of water baptism for believers).
The brown appearance and texture of the Charoset is a reminder of the mortar and the back breaking hard labour building pagan shrines and store houses for Pharaoh. Attendees broke bite sized pieces of Matza and ate after dipping some charoset. The Maror (bitter herbs) is required by God to be eaten at Passover. Matza is dipped in Maror and eaten which should bring a tear to the eyes (a reminder of the tears while in bondage). Next time the Matza is dipped in both the Charoset and the Maror and then eaten as a reminder, that even the most bitter of circumstances can be sweetened by the hope we have in God. It is also important to note what Jesus said, that someone who ate and dipped with him would betray him. The lamb bone represents a Lamb that was once alive and is now dead. It tells the story of the first Passover where God instructed the Israelites to kill a lamb and place the blood on the lintel and doorposts (symbolic of the cross where Jesus’ blood would be poured out). This Lamb is also a picture of Jesus our messiah who would become the substitute lamb 1500 years later during a future Passover. At John the Baptist’s first glimpse of Jesus he prophetically declared ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John envisioned Jesus prior to him becoming the Lamb of God.
The segment after the meal is the most important part of the Passover Seder. The afikomen is brought back, unwrapped, and now is used as we do in taking of the communion. Jesus would have prayed in Hebrew “Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz”. In English “Blessed are you O Lord our God King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth”. This is followed by the fourth cup which is the Cup of Redemption. So he took the cup of redemption and said “this cup is the new covenant in my blood which is shed for you”, now he hadn’t shed his blood yet, but he knew he was about to shed his blood for the atonement of our souls once for all.
So, the story of the Passover is a complete package, a story of love that includes God’s plan of salvation for humanity. The good news is that Yeshua our Messiah has always been in the center of the Passover Seder although some haven’t yet noticed. The event was a great success, and the meal tickets were sold out as usual with every Passover Seder event. In the end, there were some very positive comments from attendees who expressed appreciation for the event, while some said they were educated, enlightened & entertained.
A little bit about ELIM Community Fellowship (ECF). ECF is a nonprofit organization (NPO) based locally in Windsor Park and is comprised of a team of believers headed by Resident Community Pastor (RCP) Delfene (Judy) Gould. Pastor Judy has resided in Windsor Park since the 1980s. Now that she’s recently retired from the civil service, she has committed her time to serving the people in her community. She has been an ordained minister since 2003 and enjoys teaching the Bible. She has preached and taught the Bible on three continents. As the only RCP available on ground level 24/7, she, along with the Elim Community Fellowship’s team has committed to minister the love of Jesus Christ by offering a message of hope, healing & salvation through various services and door to door visitations. We also offer grief support and assistance to the needy through our food pantry when supplies are available. Our goal is to prepare people for the return of Christ through innovative Bible studies relevant to current events and in line with God’s timing. We also aim to raise up Resident Community Pastors who will take on the challenge in other communities around the island. Anyone desiring to join our Bible study, assist us in our work or would like more information, please contact ECF on 517-6352 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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