Passover is a well- known feast carrying an important message, since it not only speaks of freedom from slavery, but also points to the Lord Jesus in so many ways. The timing of the Last Supper and death of our Lord, coincided with Passover, and this is clear and documented in the gospels. The message is one of life and death, freedom from sin, deliverance, God’s faithfulness and living a life pleasing and acceptable unto God.
A Perfect and complete sacrifice
A lamb was taken for each household though smaller households would share with other ones. The requirements concerning the lamb appointed for sacrifice, direct us to Jesus the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
The lamb without blemish reminds us that the Lord Jesus was perfect and sinless.
Of the first year This most likely symbolises our Lord who was cut off whilst still young.
Killed on the 14th day Dates, months and years are all important, especially with respect of the Biblical calendar. On the 14th of Nissan whilst lambs were being sacrificed at Passover, the Lord Jesus, our Messiah was slain. The lamb was killed at twilight between the 9th-11th hour and Jesus was killed at the 9th hour.
Blood was applied on the doorposts and lintel. Our Lord took the cup on the night He was betrayed explaining that it represented His blood of the new covenant, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 27:28).” It is as though our sin was as scarlet, yet He cleanses us and makes us white as snow. The Lord Jesus paid the debt of our sin in full, and we owe everything to Him.
The flesh of the lamb was eaten, and we need to feed of the lord for spiritual nourishment, fellowship, and growth. Celebrating and eating Passover and sharing the Lord’s Supper does not and never will involve mystical properties in the food itself, yet it helps us remember these crucial events. The lamb was roasted in the fire and Jesus our Saviour bore the wrath of God shielding the believer from God’s judgement. The lamb would not remain until morning since this was not an ordinary meal and spoke of things far greater.
When eating the Passover lamb, not one of its bones was to be broken (Exodus 12:46). This reminds us of the prophecy in Psalm 34:20, “He guards all His bones; not one of them is broken.” This was fulfilled in John 19:31-37 at the scene of the crucifixion of Jesus when the soldiers had no need to break His legs since He was already dead.
The Passover was eaten in haste with belt on waist, sandals on feet and staff in hand. This draws to attention the four questions asked every year at the Seder meal. Why the need for questions? Asking questions help us to think, remember and understand. The youngest person at the Seder meal asks four questions which helps them and equally all of us, to remember the events.
Why on this night, do we eat only matzah? There was not enough time for the dough to rise so unleavened bread was eaten.
Why on this night, do we consume bitter herbs? To commemorate lives of bitter slavery.
Why on this night, do we dip twice? Dipping parsley into saltwater reminds us of the tears of slaves and dipping herbs into charoset (nut mixture) reminds us of the mortar that the slaves used to build structures for Pharaoh.
Why on this night, do we eat whilst reclining? It is a luxury of free people and Passover commemorates the journey from slavery to freedom.[i]
Those questions and their responses are all important and useful and help us to remember although there is a deeper spiritual significance which we shall return to.
Pass over you!
When the Lord saw the blood on the doorposts He would pass over the Israelites and not destroy them. Since we have all sinned and broken God’s commandments, we justly deserve God’s wrath and the sparing of the lives of the believers is an undeserved mercy. The Lord sees the finished work of His Son as the atoning sacrifice was made, sees those trusting in Him and passes over judgement. Nothing else can deliver us; and our record of our perceived rights and wrongs, are to no avail. Only the blood of Messiah that was shed is sufficient (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22).
Leaven represents sin and this is the deeper reason concerning why the children of Israel ate bread that contained no leaven at Passover. Before Passover, homes are meticulously searched for any trace of leaven and great effort is made to find it and remove it. In the same way, we must learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates. The seven days eating unleavened bread speak of perfection and completion and also living lives of holiness, avoiding sin. When we trust in the Lord, we want to please Him by shunning sin and walking in His ways.
There is a remarkable tradition that occurs at Passover that helps us to recognise Messiah. Three wafers of unleavened bread are used and the middle one (afikomen) is broken. It is put inside a napkin and then hidden. At the end of the meal, the children search for it. When they find it, the adults redeem the afikomen by paying a small price and then they eat it and share it together.
The body of the Lord Jesus was broken and hidden, wrapped in grave clothes and they searched for Him. The timing occurred during Passover when countless lambs were sacrificed in Jerusalem. The disciples and all believers are to eat the bread and drink the wine until He comes.
The Lord Jesus is our peace
Foreigners were excluded from the Passover unless they were circumcised. But since Messiah has come, those who believe in Him have been brought near to God and the Lord Jesus is our peace. Jewish and Gentile believers are united through Messiah (Ephesians 2:18-20). What a remarkable plan the Lord has for Israel and the nations and what an incredible plan of redemption and reconciliation through the Saviour. The Lord Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is our righteousness and takes us from slavery to freedom.
[i] MJL Passover The Four Questions How to say the Nishtanah https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-four-questions/
Jon Taylor 1st April 2021