Forever our Passover Lambby Dan Stolebarger, Executive Director of Koinonia Institute
This article will paint the picture of Yeshua as being the Lamb of God, which John the Baptist introduced to the multitudes on the banks of the Jordan. It will continue by unveiling Him in the two fundamental images of the Seder Service: the four cups of wine and the three separate matzos.
A glimpse back to the origins of the Passover will give context to the yesterday, today and forever claims of Christ as being our Passover Lamb.
The book of Exodus is where we first get a glimpse of what we now call the Passover. Here we discover the initial unveiling of God to deliver those who would become His people from the bondage of their Egyptian tormentors. God will take this occasion to exalt Himself above all gods and continue the scar-let thread of redemption which He prophesied in Eden, when he proclaimed the bruising of the heel and the crushing of serpent’s head. In order to avoid the plague of the death of the firstborn, the Israelites were to select a lamb, kill it, and use the blood (see Exodus 12).
And then God says the following:
For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
We then read that this feast is to be remembered indefinitely:
So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
As we look back, just as Paul explained that Christ was that Rock in the desert (1 Cor 10:4), so too in the same vein we see that the blood on the original walls of the dwelling of the Israelites paints the picture of the cross and is a foreshadowing of the permanent “once and for all” sacrifice that Yeshua will make over a thousand years later at Calvary.
In the Passover service today, let’s see if Yeshua is visible behind the symbols that make up the Seder service. The two most significant items on the table—which are central in the reading of the Haggadahwill be the cups of wine and the Matzoh Tosh.
But before we approach today’s modern Seder, let’s look back to the time of Jesus and call to mind what John declared concerning our Messiah:
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Here we have our first glimpse of the mission and the fate of the Incarnate One. Now as we walk through the Gospels, our next stop will be on the Day of Preparation, when the Passover lambs were selected. Remember they had to be without spot or blemish, and they were to be kept for four days within the house for observation.
On this day, Yeshua chose to ride the donkey into Jerusalem with the crowds singing praises, waving palm branches and shouting HOSANNA! He comes as the selected One and will spend the next four days before the Priest and religious leaders in Jerusalem for inspection. At the end of this observation period, Pilate speaks those prophetic words:
You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.
Peter also includes the following in his epistle:
...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1 Peter 1:19
Jesus is then taken to be crucified, and it is noteworthy that none of His bones were broken and then laid in the Tomb. At the exact time of his death, tens of thousands of lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple.
Jesus, prior to all of this, had His own Passover remembrance with His disciples. It was at that time that He too broke the bread and drank from the cup. Here we learn about the deeper meaning of the third cup—the cup of redemption.
At every Passover service there will be four cups of wine served, and each cup has a specific meaning as seen in Exodus 6:6-7:
Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.
We read in the Gospel of Luke that after the dinner He took the cup—this, according to Seder service, would be the third cup: the cup of redemption. He blesses it and and again brings more clarity to His role as the eternal Passover Lamb whose blood and sacrifice would now be remembered in the taking of this third cup. Interestingly enough, He does not drink the fourth cup, but He does allude to it in Luke 22:18.
...for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.
Remember, Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us and He will not drink that fourth cup until He returns to take us with Him as His people!
Now, let’s focus on the Matzoh Tosh, which is located in the middle of the table. Here we see three pieces of matzoh that are both striped and pierced. The middle one is taken and broken, and half of it is wrapped in a white clothe and hidden. It is referred to as the afikomen, which literally means “that which will come again.” As believers, we see the Godhead rep-resented in the three matzohs with the central one being Messiah, who was broken, buried, resurrected and will one day come again! Unlike most Jews today, we also know why they are striped and pierced:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was op-pressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
As believers in Yeshua we can rejoice in the Passover as we worship the One who was, is, and is to come! In the Exodus we can see Him as the One who was, in the Gospels as the One who is and whose sacrifice was once for all (Hebrews 10:10) and throughout time and space. We read in the book of Revelation that He will appear throughout eternity as the Lamb looking as if it were slain! (Revelation 5:6,12).
The Seder ends with “Next year in Jerusalem!” And I too will end with an invitation to join us in Jerusalem “next year” on one of our tours.
For an in-depth template for a Messianic Passover Service, see Foundations of Faith Series “Messiah in the Passover,” by Randy and Marji Hughes.