Over 1,400 years before Jesus was born, the people of Israel found themselves captive, serving as slaves in the mighty Egyptian Empire. After 400 years of this oppression, Moses was called by God to lead these Jews out of bondage. Through Moses, God sent ten supernatural signs—different types of plagues—to demonstrate his power and try to convince the Egyptian Pharaoh to grant the Jews freedom. Pharaoh refused—until the tenth and most devastating plague.
The tenth and final plague would kill all firstborn males in Egypt—a brutal and tough-to-handle punishment for the Egyptian nation, but one that exhibited God’s deep protection for his people. Before this final plague ensued, God instructed Moses to have the Israelites paint their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificed lamb. This act would be a signal for the plague to pass over their homes and spare the Israelites. They were being commanded to sacrifice a life (in this case, a lamb). The death of that lamb would give them life and lead them into freedom.
These events are still celebrated each year by Jewish families at Passover, when God allowed death to “pass over” them. Passover is (in general) a seven-day Jewish celebration. But one meal in particular, called the Seder (SAY-der) meal, is held the first night of Passover. Each item of food and drink in the meal has a special meaning, tied to Israel’s exodus from Egyptian slavery some 3,500 years before.
This Seder meal is almost certainly the very same meal Jesus would have had with his disciples, which is commonly known as the Last Supper. As Luke writes in Chapter 22:
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
Many Jews around the world have come to believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is indeed the fulfillment of numerous prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures, prophecies that God would one day send a Savior for their people. These Jewish Christians, or Messianic Jews, still celebrate Passover. They still enjoy the Seder meal. But the elements of that meal take on an additional meaning.
In one portion of the Seder meal, three pieces of unleavened bread (called “matzah”) are stacked together. The middle piece is taken out, broken, and one of the broken pieces is buried inside a cloth. While this simple piece of food—bread—originally may have represented the years of poverty the Jews endured during slavery, for Jewish followers of Jesus, this middle piece of bread has taken on an additional meaning. It now represents the second member of the Trinity—Jesus. His body was broken and buried.
In Luke 22:19, while Jesus was having the Seder meal with his friends, Luke tells us: He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Christians all over the world do just that, in the regular observance of Communion. We remember: Jesus’s body was broken for us. His death was a perfect sacrifice for our sin. Just as the Israelites were saved by a lamb’s blood, so we are saved by the blood of Christ. His blood restores our spiritual lives by granting us access to our heavenly Father.
“Heavenly Father, may we always remember the sacrifice you made by sending your Son to do something we could never do for ourselves. Amen.”
That’s all for now. Just one left. Before next time, read the final two chapters, Luke 23 and 24.
Passover is a time to remember the Jewish exodus out of slavery, but Jesus added another meaning.