Passover begins this weekend on the Jewish calendar. Many Christians celebrate the holiday on the Thursday evening between Palm Sunday and Easter. A Passover Seder (pronounced SAY-der) is a meal and celebration that tells the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from the bondage of Egypt and Pharoah. The Bible’s book of Exodus tells this story.
What follows is a Haggadah — or Story– that affirms Jesus as the Passover Lamb. Some may suggest it is misguided for Christ-followers to celebrate a Jewish holiday such as Passover. But I would say, Jesus is our Messiah. He was a Jew. This meal is likely the “Last Supper” He celebrated with the disciples in the Upper Room on the night He was betrayed, on the evening before Good Friday. It is very appropriate for believers in Jesus to celebrate the story of the Exodus, as it represents our own story of being in bondage to sin and death and our journey to freedom and life. In the days of Moses, life was given to people of faith by the blood of the lamb painted over the doorposts of houses. Today, we receive life by way of the blood of Jesus “painted” over the doorposts of our hearts.
This Haggadah was originally written for our family over twenty years ago, with input from various people including family friends who are Jewish. Note, most of the symbolic items have been a part of the Jewish tradition of Passover for centuries. Many were not a part of the tradition at the time of the “Upper Room” Passover. Our family added the red scarf/red ribbon as a way to visualize the doors of our hearts being painted with the blood of Jesus. Portions have been directly excerpted from the booklet “Passover Seder and Menu for an Observance by Christians” by Barbara Balzac Thompson, published by Augsburg Publishing House, Minneapolis, © 1984.
Passover lasts for eight nights. Feel free to celebrate a Passover Seder any night, not just the first night. Make it work for your family. This is a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors to join you. Because of social distancing, maybe you celebrate via Zoom or Skype.
Before you gather, you’ll need a few key ingredients for your table:
Two candlesticks in candle holders.
Wine or grape juice. You’ll be pouring four glasses for each participant, so be sure to have enough on hand for everyone.
Matzah bread. You’ll need at least three full-sized squares on a separate plate wrapped in a cloth or linen napkin. Plus, you’ll want enough for everyone to enjoy as much as they’d like.
The Seder Plate includes items which we’ll feature throughout the evening, including: a lamb shank (you can get this from the butcher at your local grocery store), a dollop of horseradish, a sprig of parsley, charoset (which is a mixture that includes chopped apples, honey, and cinnamon). You will also need in separate bowls/small plates enough horseradish, parsley, and charoset for everyone to enjoy at least a small taste.
For your table, you’ll need a bowl of fresh water (like a cereal bowl) and a smaller bowl (like a ramekin) of salt water (just enough salt to taste salty, maybe 1/2 teaspoon).
A red ribbon, scarf or piece of yarn, about three-to-four feet in length, for each participant.
You’ll also want to have prepared your main course of the evening meal, and keep it warm in the kitchen. You’ll take the first 30-45 minutes of the evening telling the story.
In most families, the father will read through the narrative. There are times when there is a responsive or group reading as well, so it is helpful for everyone to have their own copy, or a shared copy, of the “script” for the evening. Also, this is a very family-friendly event! Children are encouraged to participate. There is a specific place where they are to ask questions, but if you’d like, feel free to allow them to interrupt with queries and laughter. Our Seder is a time bathed in much grace. Sometimes we recline on the floor (more on that later). One year, we actually roasted a lamb on an open pit in the backyard. We often have coloring pages and snacks available for younger children. Feel free to be creative as you like as you demonstrate your love for God’s plan of redemption in the life of your family.
Welcome in the name of Yeshua, Jesus our Messiah! Tonight we will celebrate Pesach (PAH-sach)… Passover. This is the celebration of the most incredible feast on the Jewish and Christian calendars. It intricately weaves a story of God’s power, faithfulness and love for mankind in both the Old and New Testaments. It was celebrated in the Ancient World, in Jesus’ time, and is still celebrated in traditional Jewish homes today.
The first Passover was not a celebration (see Exodus 12). It was a night of apprehension, fear, and expectation for the beginning of a new journey for the children of Israel. The Bible tells us that the Hebrews were to take the blood of a perfect lamb and paint it on their doorposts. By following this command, the Angel of Death which moved through Egypt that night would “pass over” their homes. But since the Angel of Death did not pass over Pharaoh’s house, and his firstborn son was taken from him, his hardened heart was finally softened and the next morning Pharaoh let the Hebrew slaves go free. This meal that we celebrate tonight, the Seder, is symbolic of the rush to leave Egypt and the bondage it represents.
We also celebrate the significance of Yeshua’s last meal, sometimes called the “Last Supper,” a traditional Passover meal, with His disciples in the Upper Room. There is a lot of symbolism between the Old Covenant meal and the New Covenant meal. We hope you’ll enjoy learning how Yeshua tied the two meals together… and how it is applicable to us all.
Tonight, we tell a story, the Haggadah (hah-gaw-DAH), of how the blood of a lamb saved the people of God in the Ancient times… and still saves today.
John 1:29: The next day, John the Baptizer saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”
Reading: Luke 22:7-20. (This can be read by one of the children).
Let us celebrate the Passover together!