It’s Easter morning and sugar is on your mind. You’re eight years old, everyone else is somehow still sleeping as you have already run throughout the entire house six times. The clothes hamper is tipped over, the oven door is open and now you are digging through your parent’s closet. Today you are celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus searching through your whole house looking for a basket of chocolate bunnies, jellybeans and decorated eggs. As Christians, we want to be like Jesus and celebrate the meaningful things He has done for us; so we celebrate Easter. How did Jesus celebrate Easter though? He didn’t. He celebrated Passover.
Like myself, the majority of Christians today grew up celebrating Easter. This was the day dedicated to celebrating and remembering the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was done by dressing up in their Sunday best, worshipping, listening sermon, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and eating an Easter ham. While there are aspects of this
celebration that are true to who Jesus is and what he has done for his people, many might not realize that they are missing out on the deeper understanding of this holiday. This knowledge of Jesus is found in the celebration of Passover. The holiday that Jesus practiced.
Exodus 12:14 - This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
This is a celebration that God has called his people to celebrate forever. What started with Israel thousands of years ago reached its full prophetic significance and understanding with the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ. Jesus was celebrating and partaking of the Passover meal at the last supper and intended his disciples to do likewise after him. The apostle Paul echoes this with his encouragement to the Corinthians to keep Passover as a normal Christian practice.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 - For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
For those who are wondering how to actually celebrate this holiday according to the Bible, there are four foods to know about. These four food elements are talked about and eaten in a Passover celebration to remember who God is and what he has done. All of these tell us about Jesus.
1. The unleavened bread (Matzah)
When Jesus is speaking to his disciples during the last supper, takes the bread and tells them it is his body, given for them, he is speaking of Matzah. This is not the bread we would normally think of, it’s not soft and fluffy. It is like a cracker because it is made without leaven or yeast (a rising agent). Leaven is a symbol for sin. Like leaven, if some gets incorporated into a lump of dough, the leaven spreads throughout the whole thing.
Passover teaches us that sin is the same way. Sin spreads and corrupts the whole body. Passover is calling God’s people to remove the sin in their lives. This element teaches us about Jesus because he was without sin. He was perfect. So when we partake of the bread we remember his sinless life.
2. The wine
Traditionally there are four cups of wine that are used in a Passover celebration; the cup of sanctification, the cup of deliverance, the cup of praise and the cup of praise or restoration. These four cups of wine tell the story of the world and God’s people. God promised to bring his people out of slavery to the Egyptians, delivered them through the Red Sea, redeemed them and made Israel his people at the base of Mount Sinai.
The wine also points to Jesus. He was sacrificed and shed his blood in order deliver his people from sin and death.
3. The bitter herbs (Marror)
These bitter herbs, typically horseradish, are eaten during the Passover meal to remember the bitterness of slavery and bondage to Egypt. As followers of Jesus, we are to be reminded of the bitterness of sin in the world and in our lives. It is because of the bitterness of sin that Jesus had to come and die to save us. So when his people eat the bitter herbs and feel the sting in their mouths they should remember the pain of sin that Jesus took on for His people’s sake.
4. The lamb Shank
This is arguably the most important piece of the Passover meal. The shank is an unbroken bone taken from the arm of a lamb. This symbol represents the sacrifice that the Israelites made on the first Passover. They sacrificed a spotless lamb and put its blood on the doorposts of their houses so God might see the blood and the sacrifice of the lamb and Passover their house, saving them from death.
Jesus is our Passover lamb. John the Baptist showed us this when he said of Jesus: behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, was sacrificed and killed so his people might be passed over. It is through this sacrifice that we can be forgiven of sin and receive a new heart to become like Jesus. The lamb shank on the plate helps to remember all that Jesus has done for us.
I loved Easter as a child, especially because my parents were really good and hiding my Easter basket. These days I no longer celebrate Easter because Jesus didn’t. Our Messiah has left us with a season to look back and understand better who he is. My desire is to be like Jesus and live like he did, so I celebrate Passover and I’m not looking back.