This past weekend, many families came together to celebrate Easter and Passover. At first glance, many would think that these two holidays from two separate religions have very little to do with the other. However, this past Saturday, the Messianic congregation I attend spoke about the connection between the two celebrations and how Passover may foreshadow Jesus.
What is Passover?
Matthew 26:17 says, “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus saying, ‘Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?'”
Jesus, as a Jewish man, celebrated Passover with his disciples. This is because, in Exodus chapters 12-13, God instructed the Israelites to celebrate the holiday. For anyone unsure of what Passover is, it is, very simply, the retelling of the miracle of how God liberated the Jews from slavery in Egypt. And, as the Messianic Jewish ministry, One for Israel notes,
“The Passover miracle is recalled with wonder throughout many of the Psalms… Plus, it is a huge neon sign pointing to the coming release which would be bought with the blood of another spotless lamb – our savior Jesus.”
Can Jesus be found in the Passover?
The idea that one can find allusions to the Jewish Messiah in the celebration of Passover is fascinating and really worth the time to look into. In short, many theologians and apologists would say that one certainly can find Jesus in Passover.
Whether one agrees or not, the symbolism found in Passover is striking in quite a few ways; one of particular interest is the “afikomen.”
“Even the practices of the Passover dinner are loaded with symbolism. The Trinity is symbolized by the three matzahs which are put together. Jesus’ death and subsequent burial are symbolized by the breaking of the middle matzah (Jesus, recall, is the second person of the Trinity), which is subsequently wrapped in a white cloth and hidden. John 19:40 tells us, ‘And so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.’ Following the meal, the ‘buried’ matzah is ‘resurrected’, thus symbolizing Christ’s resurrection.”
As Christians, we are not called to celebrate Passover (if one chooses to do so, it is out of personal desire.) Yet, there are reasons to see how the symbolism in Passover could point to Jesus and that can give us a fuller picture of why He is “The Lamb of God.” As Rich Robinson wrote for CBN.com:
“The early Jewish believers in Jesus considered him the fulfillment of the Passover lambs that were yearly sacrificed. Thus Paul, a Jewish Christian who had studied under Rabbi Gamaliel, wrote, “Messiah, our Pesach, has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7)…The idea behind all this was that just as the Israelites were redeemed from Egyptian slavery by an unblemished lamb, now men could be freed from slavery to sin by the Messiah, the Lamb of God.”
For more information, take a look at this excellent video on the subject. It was suggested by Jonathan McLatchie in his article for Cross Examined.