As we embark on this most holy week leading up to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, I want to remind you of another occasion that you may want to consider observing. Passover.
Yes. You heard me right. Passover.
No. I’m not Jewish. As I’ve said before, I’m a Protestant believer in Christ. A Gentile, even. But I am one who has, for several years, observed Passover with my family in some form.
About 11 years ago, I heard a man who was invited to our church talk specifically about the Passover meal that Christ would have shared with his disciples in the upper room with His disciples. This was, for me, a first. It was the first time that the connections between the old and new testaments of the Bible had really been made for me. It was the first time I had seen Christ as my Passover Lamb.
“Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7
The Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts were just a foreshadowing of Christ’s blood shed for us on the cross; covering our sins and keeping us from the wrath that we deserve.
Since that time, we have observed Passover in our home in one way or another. Not necessarily a full Passover Seder as would be observed in a Jewish home, but by serving lamb and telling our children the story. Our oldest child is 10 years old, so my children have been hearing this their whole lives. In fact, they look forward to it each year with great anticipation.
Recently, my Sunday morning 1st & 2nd grade teaching partner at church suggested that we serve a Passover meal to our kids on one Sunday morning leading up to Easter. Clearly I thought it was a wonderful idea, so we invited the 3rd & 4th grade teachers to join us and began to prepare.
I began to do more research on the traditional Passover Seder that would be served in a Jewish home and came to realize that I could easily do much more than I had been without a lot more effort or confusion.
I want to encourage you, today, to consider recognizing and even celebrating Passover in your own home. If not this year, then in years to come. Help connect those dots between the Old and New Testament for your children. Help them to see that the entire Bible is all about Jesus and God’s plan for our salvation. Celebrating Passover in your home is a multi-sensory way to do just that.
The following are elements of the Passover that you could easily include in your regular meal as a family on the Thursday night before Easter. (Or any night leading up to Easter, really. We have that freedom in Christ under grace and not under the law.) Do some of your regular side dishes and some things the kids will really like along with these things to make it an enjoyable experience for them. Some elements were added by the Jewish leaders as a part of the Passover celebration to aid in the teaching of the story to the children and are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. However, all of these elements would have been in place and present at the Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples the day before his crucifiction. You may want to warn your kids that they won’t like everything that they taste, but liking it is not the point. The point is the experience and tasting things similar to what the Israelites and even Jesus would have tasted.
“That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.” ~ Exodus 12:8
Bread without yeast:
The Israelites in Egypt were to eat “in haste” and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. They did not have time to wait for their bread to rise and for the yeast to do its work. But also, later in the Bible, we see that Jesus, in many cases, compares sin to yeast (see Luke 12:1). If you study a piece of Matzah bread, you will notice some small holes. In order to keep it from rising at all it is pierced. And it is cooked on racks that form stripes across it. At the end of the traditional Passover meal, a piece of the Matzah bread is wrapped in a linen cloth and hidden. The children then all go to look for it and the one that comes back with it gets a prize of some sort. Then that bread that has been brought back is shared among those at the table. So think through this with me: the bread that is pierced and striped is wrapped in linen and hidden for a time and he who finds it gets a reward and shares that piece of bread with those around him. Is it any wonder that Christ said to his disciples, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26).
Parsley and salt water :
Symbolizing Springtime, the parsley is dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears of the Jewish slaves. The salt water can also symbolize the tears of the Egyptians as they endured the 10 plagues. You can dip your fingers in the salt water and sprinkle a bit on your plate for each plague as you go through and name each of them.
This bitter herb reflects the bitter affliction of slavery. Warn your children that this will not taste good at all. It’s not supposed to. And if eaten in the amounts as done in a Jewish home (about a table spoon on a piece of unleavened bread) it will induce tears even further reminding us of the bitterness of slavery. You may want to talk to your children about what bitterness is – the taste and the feeling.
While not specifically mentioned in our Exodus 12 passage it is a mixture of chopped apples, cinnamon, walnuts or almonds, wine and possibly other dried fruit that represents the mortar the Jewish slaves used to make and assemble bricks for the buildings in the time of their slavery. While our modern kitchen tools make this an easy dish to make, at the time, it took the whole family pitching in to finely chop all the ingredients, which may have further reminded them of the work that was done during their period of slavery. You could easily involve your children in making this dish. It is sweet to remind us of the optimism that comes from the hope and belief that the Israelites had that God would save them and helps to take away the flavor of the bitter herb. See a recipe here.
From Exodus 12, we know that there were several specific instructions concerning the lamb. It was to be a year old male without defect (vs. 5), roast over fire (not raw or boiled) (vs. 8), none was to be left until morning (burn what is left) (vs. 10), and most importantly they were to put some of the blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes where the lambs were eaten (vs. 7).
“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” ~ Leviticus 17:11
So as they put the blood on the door frame, the Lord gave them life because of the life that was taken from the lamb. We know that Christ was without sin and thus without blemish or defect (Hebrews 4:15). And his blood was shed at Calvary to save us from our bondage in slavery to sin. His life was taken to give us the life we don’t deserve. Just imagine what it must have been like to be in that upper room. If only Jesus’ disciples had realized that the whole time, everything that they were doing was pointing directly to Him.
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
See a recipe for roast lamb here.
Will you share the meaning of Passover and how it relates to Christ and our Christian faith with your children? I hope you do. As adopted sons and daughters, it is part of our heritage in God’s great and wonderful family.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5272606142394767394# (40 minute video done by Jews for Jesus)