Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Hebraic Perspective on the Last Supper (Part 2)

Christ our Passover is sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the feast! (1 Cor 5:7-8)

This is the second post in a two-part series on Jesus' Last Supper, which 
was a Jewish Passover feast—a Seder (Matt 26:18-29). 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. 

How Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? Astounding Ways the Jewish Passover Anticipates Messiah

You can check out the first post, on the lamb and the wine, here.

3. The Water

It was the Jewish tradition, then as now, that meals begin with ceremonial hand washing (Mark 7:3-4). John is not as precise about the evening's timeline as Luke is, but it's likely this is the point where Jesus "poured water into the basin," which would have been in place for the ritual, "and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded." (John 13:5) In other words, Jesus went beyond the ritual and got at what was really dirty on a group of men who'd spent the day walking dusty streets in sandals. As He will with our lives, if we let Him!

4. The Bread

Handmade Matza bread
Traditional handmade matzah bread. Photo: Yoninah, Wikipedia
When the Lord instituted Passover, He coupled it with a seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. This was to remind the children of Israel how they left Egypt in haste. But leaven is also commonly used in Scripture as a metaphor for sin. (Hosea 7:4, Matt 16:6; Gal 5:9; 1 Cor 5:6-7) And during those seven days, none of it was to be found in a Jewish home.
Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses..." Ex 12:15
Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:6-8)

Note that Paul's discussion of leaven in this passage is a clear reference to the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the fastidious housecleaning that was mandated to prepare for it.
Even today, observant Jewish households may go to extremes to remove every grain of leaven for the feast.

Every speck of yeast. Can you imagine the stress?

If you're interested in the fascinating background on why leaven symbolizes sin in the Bible, you'll find that in this post, under the subheading Unleavened Bread: A Timeless Call to a Sinless Life.

You really are not going to believe this, but I promise I’m not making it up. Before a Seder meal in a Jewish home begins in earnest, the matzah is broken. Three pieces of bread, untainted by leaven, are presented beautifully on the table. The middle piece is pulled from the stack and broken in two. One half of the broken matzah—the afikomen, “that which comes after”—is shrouded in clean white cloth and hidden away.

Look at the matzah and see that it is striped: "By his stripes we are healed"; pierced: "They shall look upon me whom they've pierced," and pure, without any leaven, as His body was without any sin. And the Passover custom of burying, hiding and then resurrecting the second of three pieces of matzot (the middle piece), presents the Gospel.
- John J. Parsons, Hebrew4Christians.com
The Jewish people generally accept the three matzah as symbolic of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Isaac’s piece is broken to speak of his willingness to offer himself in sacrifice in obedience to the will of his father, Abraham. (He wasn't a small boy when he accompanied Abraham to Mount Moriah. He could have resisted if he chose to.)

But this is a type. Yeshua told us the deeper meaning of the broken piece of unleavened bread.
“This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)

"I AM the bread of life." (John 6:35)
Toward the end of the Seder feast, the children are invited to hunt for the afikomen. The finder receives a reward.
Consider that the broken matzah, the afikomen, is an image of the Suffering Servant mentioned in the prophet Isaiah. Consider that this piece is taken, wrapped up, and carefully hidden from view, only to be discovered at the end of the Seder by little children. This is an image of the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua from the dead.

The lamb, the wine, the water, the bread--the four elements most closely associated with the Passover. And like the rest of the Torah, or Mosaic Law, our Lord showed they were all about Him. 

The Plum Blooms in Winter

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.


  1. I attended a Seder meal at our church one year where each ritual was explained through the lens of how Jesus fulfilled it, as you are explaining. It was a very powerful night. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi, Connie! Yes, it is a very powerful experience, and I'm so glad you had that opportunity. Thank YOU for reading!! <3

  2. I was fortunate to live in Israel for a year when I was in my early twenties. My hubby and I lived on a kibbutz and got to experience all the holidays with the people of the kibbutz as they celebrated. It was quite an experience.

    1. That's really cool, Vickie! I definitely envy you that experience. I've been blogging for the past couple years on the Feasts of the Lord and there is so much to discover in terms of the beautiful pictures the Torah draws of Messiah!