Next Year in Jerusalem! Why We are Celebrating Passover

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This coming week our church family will be celebrating a Passover Seder – a meal and ceremony that recalls the Exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt – and we believe ultimately points us to Jesus Christ.  However, we make the distinction that we are celebrating Passover and not observing Passover.  We make this distinction out of respect for those who differ in its interpretations, especially those of the Jewish faith.  It is also for that reason that the majority of our Seder is observed in such a way to allow individuals to draw his or her own conclusions about what certain elements may mean.  Our Seder is also set and celebrated as traditionally as possible in order to provide a learning experience for the participants.  However, we reserve the disclaimer that we are, “not under the law but under grace” so some freedoms are taken.  Here are some good reasons to participate:

It’s for the family.

The greatest difference between our Seder and a traditional Jewish Seder is the number of participants. Seders are usually experienced and celebrated as an intimate family meal – recalling in the instructions from Exodus to observe the meal in your homes.  We have several families in one large room for the purpose of education and celebration.  Still, in this vein, we attempt to maintain a “family” atmosphere, encouraging the participation of children and laughter where appropriate.

It’s fun.

Perhaps this is covered in the family setting, but it is really a fun experience.  There are songs, short games, and a really neat atmosphere.  And face it, it’s fun to see others lean to the right and bump shoulders when they are actually supposed to be leaning left and to see your neighbor tear up from a little too much horseradish.

It’s a picture of scriptural fulfillment.

  • It provides a visual context in which to understand the story of the Bible.

One cannot understand the overall story of the Bible and God’s purpose in the redemption of mankind without a firm grasp of the Exodus. The Exodus of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt ties the story together between the Patriarchs of Genesis and the people of Israel and Judah for the remainder of the Old Testament. It is also difficult to understand and appreciate many passages in the New Testament without some background in Exodus, the Law, and the person of Moses. Participating in the Passover is a “crash course” in the chief narrative on which all of these are based.

  • It gives us an appreciation for the reinterpretation of the meal instituted by Christ.

This meal is the celebration meal recounted in the Gospels that is often referred to as “the Last Supper.” Once you have experienced the fuller experience at least once, you have a background for which to understand the portrait we see when we observe the Lord’s Supper or Communion.  It is like looking at an entire picture album which includes guests and the rehearsal dinner rather than the wedding portrait only.  After celebrating the Passover, you know what the cup of redemption is, you are reminded of the great need for a Messiah, and the tears shed by slaves and the bitter herbs remind us of the bondage of our souls and the bitterness of sin. Ultimately you are pointed to the Cross. You are reminded of the ultimate purpose of the Cross as the final exodus – to see the slaves go free.  

  • It makes us expectant about the Messiah’s second coming.

The Celebration of Passover is also an expectant feast looking forward to the advent of the Messiah. The meal is packed with the fervor surrounding the need and hope for a Messiah. We as Christians believe Messiah has already come, but we also believe that He will return.  In all our Messianic expectations we as Christians look forward to the day the Messiah will return – which is exactly what the Apostle Paul reminds us we are celebrating in the Lord’s Supper when he writes, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” So this week we will be gathering to eat unleavened matzah, drinking three cups, leaning to the left, and celebrating as a family as we pray,  “Next Year in Jerusalem!”

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