As Easter approaches, I have spent some time studying the Jewish tradition of Passover.
There is much to appreciate about the Seder meal tradition and the Haggadah (the written script of the Seder). I would like to reflect on the three special elements take center stage in that Seder.
The Passover Lamb
During the Seder, people cook and eat lamb. At the time of the Jewish enslavement, ancient Egyptians revered the lamb as sacred. But God wanted to show the Egyptians and the Jews that the Egyptian god was a false god. Truly, only God is the one, true Lord and Savior. So, God asked the Jews to sacrifice a lamb. But first they had to hold the lamb alive in their homes for four days. I believe this helped the Jews to rely on God for safety and protection. In fact, for the Egyptian people could have attacked the Jews for holding and preparing their “god” for sacrifice.
And then, the lamb was slaughtered and its blood smeared on the doorposts of the Hebrews’ homes, exactly as God ordered. The blood symbolically protected the firstborn of the household from death as a part of the final plague. This clearly foreshadowed Christ’s shedding of blood, which protects us as God “passes over” our sins to bring salvation and justification to all who believe.
Matzah for Passover
Matzah is unleavened (unfermented) bread. It is a symbol of the Torah, representing God’s instructions for life and living. The Egyptians who invented leavening fermented or decomposed their bread to make it rise before baking. This decay was a representation of death and were part of an Egyptian fascination with death and dying. Their Book of the Dead was considered a holy book. God wanted the Jews to see the separation between these false gods of death and the true God, who alone gives life and gives it abundantly.
Bitter Herbs for Passover
The bitter herbs in the Passover ceremony symbolize the bitterness of slavery, from which God rescued the Jews. As Christ followers, we recognize that we were once slaves to sin. But thankfully, Christ rescued us from slavery to sin to enjoy freedom through the Holy Spirit.
As you celebrate Easter this year, take some time to read the Passover account and praise God for saving the Jewish people. They are our forefathers in faith, and we have much to learn from God’s work among them.
And as you consider the needs of the extreme poor this Easter, please pray that God would give them Hope for Eternity.