Christ our Passover is sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the feast! (1 Cor 5:7-8)
Our Lord's last supper was a Jewish Passover feast—a Seder (Matt 26:18-29). And each year, I'm blown away by the profound ways our Lord fulfilled the Feast—down to the jot and tittle.
One thing that fascinates me about Judaism is that, while not all rabbinical practices are Biblical, many are very old. The Mishnah was compiled in the third century A.D., but it reflects beliefs and practices handed down orally much earlier than that. Many practices recorded in the Mishnah are unchanged from Jesus’ day.
If you’ve had the blessing of attending a Jewish Seder, you will have experienced a series of rituals that are similar to those Yeshua and His disciples observed that evening. And understanding those rituals opens a new window on what happened in the Upper Room. (This will be the first of two posts exploring this topic.)
How Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? Astounding Ways the Jewish Passover Anticipates Messiah
1. The Lamb
You recall how John the Baptist heralded Jesus’ ministry. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) For his Jewish listeners, that statement would have brought to mind two wonderful stories from the Hebrew scriptures.
- In the Passover account, to receive the Lord’s redemption from the death that struck the firstborn of Egypt, God’s people had to follow His precise instructions. An unblemished lamb had to be chosen. Its blood had to be painted around the door to their home.
- Isaac was also spared by God’s miraculous intervention. In a poignant moment on their journey to Mount Moriah:
Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” And he said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” So the two of them walked on together. (Gen 22:7-8)In the end, Isaac’s life was spared (redeemed) by a substitutionary sacrifice the Lord Himself provided—a “ram caught in a thicket.” (Gen 22:13)
The Seder traditions emphasize the role of the unblemished sacrificial lamb. Interestingly, the Lord gave specific direction that not a bone of the lamb sacrificed at Passover should be broken. (Ex 12:46) That’s why John makes a point of telling us the Romans did not break Jesus’ legs. (John 19:36)
“Just as the blood of the Passover lamb caused the physical plague of death to pass over the homes of the Israelites who trusted in God’s redemption, so the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, the great Lamb of God, causes the spiritual plague of death to pass over those who put their trust in Him.”
- John J. Parsons, Worthy Is the Lamb: A Messianic Passover Haggadah
Oh, and the Israelites were to select their lambs on the tenth day of the first month in order to sacrifice them for their annual Passover Seder, four days later. Messianic Jews hold that Yeshua entered Jerusalem riding a donkey, greeted by palm fronds waving, on Nisan 10—the very the day the Jews assembled for the feast were procuring their unblemished lambs.
2. The Wine
Since the time the Mishnah was recorded, the basic flow of a Seder meal has revolved around four (small 😊 ) cups of wine, which recall four promises the Lord made to Moses. (Ex 6:6-7)
- I will bring you out (Sanctification)
- I will free you (Deliverance)
- I will redeem you (Redemption)
- I will take you as my own people (Restoration)
Messiah Himself fulfills all four promises! He is our Sanctification (1 Cor 1:30), our Deliverer (2 Cor 5:21), our Redemption (1 Cor 1:30). And ultimately, it is He who will restore Israel (Rom 11:26).
Ritual blessings are recited throughout the meal. For each cup. For the bread, which is broken between the first and second cups. (More on the bread next month….) The meal is eaten between the second and third cups.
It’s clear from the gospel accounts Yeshua’s last meal followed something like this tradition. Ever-meticulous Luke records it.
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves.”… And when He had taken bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Lu 22:17-20)
Before the bread, a cup with a blessing. Then the bread with a blessing. Then the meal, and another cup with another blessing. With the cup after the meal, Yeshua established the new covenant in His blood.
There’s a powerful spiritual message behind these cups.
The... cups parallel the betrothal process in ancient Israel. When a man proposed marriage:
At the betrothal...
· The man would negotiate a bride price. Yeshua paid the bride price when He died for us and rose again (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20).
· He would hand the bridal candidate a cup of wine and say, "This is the cup of my covenant." Y'shua did this at the last supper--said these exact words!
· If she drank, it meant "I consent."
At the wedding, they’d drink of another cup.
"I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matt 26:29)
Our bridal canopy awaits!
The seven Feasts of the Lord given in the Law of Moses have a great deal to say about this romance between our Heavenly Bridegroom and His bride, and about our glorious future when our Bridegroom returns--soon and very soon! I wrote more about this here.
Please check back next month, when I'll continue with the bread and the water, Lord willing.
My Doolittle Raid novel is finally here! And I'm thrilled (and humbled) by the reviews it's receiving.
“A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it's a stay-up-all-night read."
-Jerry B. Jenkins--21-time NYT bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)
A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge--In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.
A Doolittle Raid Hero Finds His True Mission--Dave Delham makes aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.
Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.
I stepped away from a marketing career that spanned continents to write what I love: stories of reckless faith that showcase God's hand in history. Please also feel free to check out my blog, Five Stones and a Sling, which hovers in the region where history meets Bible prophecy meets current events. It's rich ground--we live in a day when prophecies are leaping from the Bible's pages into the headlines!
I live outside Phoenix with my husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as my Chief Military Research Officer. We share our home with our daughter, our son and daughter-in-law, a brand new grandson, and a small platoon of housecats. When I'm not writing, you'll find me rollerblading--yes, I know that makes me a throwback 😊--or catching a moonrise, or dreaming of my next trip. We recently returned from Israel and Wales.