Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people.” Luke 22:1-2, NKJV
Last weekend, our family celebrated Passover, a time when Jewish families still remember their Exodus from Egypt and when Christian families have a wonderful opportunity to remember what our Savior did for us more than two thousand years ago. In fact, for many years the early church continued their celebration of Passover and The Feast of First Fruits, since they knew that Jesus, or Yeshua, was Himself the fulfillment of both. Consider some of the following elements of Passover and how they correspond to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross.
1. The Selection of the Passover Lamb – The Tenth of Nissan
The Jewish people were required to select a Passover lamb on the tenth of Nissan. They would take the lamb into their homes for 4 days in order to inspect it to ensure that it was free of spot or blemish. According to many scholars, Jesus made His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (known to the church as Palm Sunday) on the tenth of Nissan, thereby presenting Himself as the eternal Passover Lamb.[i]
Exodus 12:3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.’”
John 12:12-15 “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
2. The Unleavened Bread
Before Passover week, families are required to rid their homes of all leavening and consume only unleavened bread. During the Passover Seder, three matzahs are placed on the table. Early in the ceremony, the middle piece is broken and half wrapped in a linen cloth and hidden. It is later searched for and, once discovered, broken into pieces and distributed to be eaten as the last course of the meal. When Jesus was eating the last Passover (the Last Supper) with His disciples, He broke the matzah and told them that it was His body, broken for them. Later, His flesh was indeed broken, wrapped in linen cloth and hidden away for three days and three nights.
Exodus 12:15 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”
Luke 22:19 “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’”
3. The Wine
Four cups of wine are consumed as a part of the Passover ceremony: the cup of sanctification, the cup of deliverance, the cup of redemption and the cup of completion. These cups are based on Exodus 6:6-7, which reads in part, “‘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.”
Luke 22 records Jesus drinking the first cup (“I will bring you out”) and the third cup (“I will redeem you”) with His disciples. It is the third cup, the cup of redemption, of which He says, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” Jesus did not drink the fourth cup (the cup of completion) because, as He explained to His disciples, He will drink it with us in His Father’s Kingdom.
4. The Bitter Herbs
For the Israelites, the bitter herbs reminded them of the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt. For followers of Christ, they remind of us of our bondage to sin and the bitterness that results. Just as God delivered the Israelites from their bondage because of the blood of the Passover Lamb that was painted on their doorposts, so He has delivered us from slavery to sin if we will apply His blood to the doorposts of our hearts.
Exodus 12:8 “Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.”
5. The Sacrifice of the Passover Lamb – The Fourteenth of Nissan
The tradition of the church is that Jesus died on “Good Friday,” since Friday is the day before the Sabbath. However, in addition to the weekly Sabbath, Israel had several “High Sabbaths” throughout the year, one of them being Nissan 15. This is why many believe that Jesus died on Nissan 14[ii] and was buried before sundown, corresponding with the day and time that the Passover Lamb was sacrificed. This teaching corresponds more accurately to Jesus’ remaining in the tomb for 3 days and 3 nights.
Exodus 12:6 “Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.”
Mark 15:42-44 “Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time.”
6. The Feast of Firstfruits – The Seventeenth of Nissan
The first day after Passover week (The Feast of Unleavened Bread), an offering of the firstfruits of Israel’s harvest was to be brought to the priest. On The Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus was resurrected along with all of the saints who had died before Him, the firstfruits of the harvest of souls.
Leviticus 23:9-12 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
While skeptics accuse believers of checking our minds at the door of the church, we have a much better option. Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law and the prophets and that is exactly what He did. In addition to the complete fulfillment of Passover, Jesus fulfilled more than 300 prophecies in His first coming alone.[iii] We can look forward to the fulfillment of many more at His return.
“Everything in the Torah (or the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses) has a prophetic as well as historical significance and merits our careful attention. Jesus indicated this in Matthew 5:17, ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.’ Paul also emphasized this in Romans 15:4, ‘For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning. . .’ The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.” ~ Chuck Missler[iv]
Blog authored by Cindy Koen
[i] – http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/Shabbat_HaGadol/shabbat_hagadol.html
[ii] – http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Holidays/Spring_Holidays/First_Fruits/first_fruits.html, http://www.jesuschrist.com/jesus-christ-was-crucified-on-wednesday-not-friday/,
[iii] – http://www.accordingtothescriptures.org/prophecy/353prophecies.html
[iv] – http://www.khouse.org/articles/1995/105/print/