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Passover and Your Home PDF Print E-mail

by Cathy Wilson


Should the Lord lead you to present a Passover Seder at your church or in your small group, it is wise to consider including an introduction about the significance of the Passover. You might even suggest that your fellowship invite a Chosen People Ministries staff person to instruct the group. Our Church Ministries staff would be happy to speak with you or your pastor. (www.celebratemessiah/contact/inviteaspeaker)

Allow me then to share some of what I tell those who are interested in, but unfamiliar with Passover to interest them in learning more and even celebrating a Seder. You will help your believing friends by introducing them to this great opportunity to better appreciate redemption!

The Lamb: Center Stage

At the first Passover in Egypt, lambs enter the lives of the family members and are scrutinized from the tenth until the fourteenth of the month of Nisan (Exodus 12:1–7). An attachment to the lamb, now a part of the Jewish household, naturally develops. To help His people understand the cost and value of redemption, it may be that God's intention was for the lambs to be cherished and then later mourned.

Can you imagine what the children of Israel really thought about God's instructions? "We're to do—what? Why?" The children of Israel may not have remembered what God had so graphically conveyed about a lamb years ago when He called Abram to offer his only son as a burnt offering. The father and son climbed one of the mountains in the land of Moriah, and Isaac asked about the whereabouts of the burnt offering. His father plainly stated, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son" (Genesis 22:8). The Lord provided a ram (a male lamb) caught in the thicket by his horns as a substitute for Isaac (v. 13). This may well have been the first substitutionary sacrifice in the Bible. If not, it nevertheless dramatically displayed the biblical theme of substitutionary sacrifice.

We see this pattern emerge again in the Exodus when the time came for the first Passover, as God requires another lamb to be slain and its blood smeared upon the lintel and doorposts of each Israelite home as a substitute for the death of the firstborn sons of Israel. If the Israelites obey, their firstborn sons will not need to die. For the Lord will go through the land of Egypt to smite all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, but when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come into the Israelites' houses to smite them (Exodus 12:7, 12–13, 21–23).

The lamb of the Egyptian Passover presents a foreshadowing of the Lamb mentioned in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, where Isaiah speaks of a lamb to come as a substitute for His people, Israel:

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5–6)

The theme of the sacrificial lamb continues through Scripture, but can only be fully appreciated by first understanding the original Passover. By retelling the Passover story during the Seder, we deepen our connection to both the people and the God of Israel as we understand that the ultimate sacrificial Lamb is Jesus Himself.


Excerpted from the book 'Messiah in the Passover'

Messiah in the Passover - Introduction PDF Print E-mail

by Dr. Mitch Glaser


The Jewish holidays not only include teaching, but also special sacrifices that are made such as the waving of sheaves, the baking of bread, the building of booths, and the blowing of the shofar (ram's horn trumpet). The seven great festivals of Israel are replete with object lessons that help us better understand the story of redemption. These object lessons, woven into the very fabric of the feasts, enabled the Israelites to "get their hands a little dirty" and to not merely hear or listen, but to do and participate so that the lessons of the festivals became ingrained in their very souls. It's no secret to modern experts on the process of learning that it is not merely children who learn better by doing—but adults as well. Participating in the activities makes these lessons unforgettable.

This is the foundation for the Passover: it is a festival filled with opportunities for participation in the remembrance of our great deliverance from Egypt. We were told to recount the story year after year so that new generations of Jewish people would never forget what God did in delivering them from Egypt.
It is wonderful to observe the Passover because there are so many invaluable lessons preserved in the festival for the people of God. Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples in light of His sacrifice for our sins. Similarly, Christians throughout the world, in one way or another, remember Jesus and give thanks for His sacrificial death through the Lord's Supper, often called Communion.

When Christians celebrate the Passover, however, they grow in their understanding of the Old Testament, affirm the Jewishness of the Gospel, deepen their understanding of the Lord's Supper, build community with fellow Christians, and develop a common experience that will enable them to better communicate the Gospel to their Jewish friends. Most of all, we are passing along the glorious message of redemption to future generations and linking our children and grandchildren to the Exodus. This will help our children develop a sense of continuity between the Old and New Testaments and between prophecy given and prophecy fulfilled. This will build the faith of our kids, giving them greater assurance that what the Bible said about the future has and will come to pass.


Excerpted from the book 'Messiah in the Passover'

Passover and the Gospel of Luke PDF Print E-mail

by Dr. Darrell Bock


The events of the Last Supper are critical as it is the basis for what is commonly known as the Lord's Supper or Communion. The Apostle Paul considers this meal to be important as he makes direct reference to the words spoken by Jesus at the table in 1 Corinthians 11:23–25, which most Christians today hear regularly.

The issues related to this meal are numerous and complex, leading to a host of debates and discussions, each of which could fill this chapter. However, our concerns are narrow.

We will attempt to answer the question, "What does the first-century Jewish background of the Passover holiday contribute to our understanding of what Jesus did with His disciples at this evidently special meal?" Specifically, we will need to establish if a Passover or Passover-like meal took place, what can be known about the way in which it was celebrated, and how Jesus transformed this celebration by His words and actions.

Luke explicitly associates the Last Supper with the Passover meal and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1, 7, 15). He does this because the two feasts come back to back and were often combined or discussed together with either name used for the whole (Ezekiel 45:21; Matthew 26:17–18; Mark 14:1-2). Flavius Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, writes "the feast of unleavened bread, which we call the Passover" (Ant. 14.21). The Passover connection is also seen in Mark's use of the terms in Mark 14:1, 12, where he similarly refers to both celebrations. This is an important observation to make as we prepare to discuss the topic.

The celebration of the Passover goes back centuries as other chapters in this book show. But the more controversial question is whether a specific Passover Seder was present or merely a liturgically structured meal with multiple cups. And where can we find more conclusive information regarding the meal, elements, symbolism, and traditions observed that evening? We will examine whether or not Jesus observed a more defined Seder, the nature of its internal elements and symbols, such as the cups mentioned in the account, and if what Luke describes is generally consistent with the elements of the Passover meal.


Excerpted from the book 'Messiah in the Passover' 

Passover in the Gospel of John PDF Print E-mail

by Dr Mitch Glaser

Often referred to as His Passion, this last week is the most eventful of Jesus's short life. Certainly, it is the most significant from a human perspective, as it includes His death and resurrection, the penultimate moment of human history. His final week, according to John, also includes various teachings, which are unique to this Gospel [of John] such as His Upper Room Discourse, teaching on the Holy Spirit, High Priestly Prayer, etc. The last week of Jesus's life is also significant because many Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled during this week, especially those involving His atoning death and resurrection.

The agenda, goals, and purposes of His last week are outlined in both the Old and New Testaments and driven by the necessity for Jesus to fulfil all that is predicted about Him in the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings, as well as His own predictions in the Gospels. In particular, three Old Testament passages heavily influence the agenda of the Messiah's last week on earth: Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:24–26, and Leviticus 23. These texts create a path for what Yeshua would do and when He would do it.

  1. Isaiah 53: The prediction of the Messiah's suffering, death, and resurrection, along with Israel's response to His message.
  2. Daniel 9:24–26: The prediction of the Messiah's death as detailed in the prophecy of the seventy weeks.
  3. Leviticus 23: The pattern of the Messiah's passion as revealed through the Passover, which will especially influence the last week of Jesus' life.

The Jewish festivals found in Leviticus 23 appear to be prophetic types and in one way or another are fulfilled in the person and work of Jesus (we view the first four "spring" festivals as fulfilled in His first coming and the three additional "fall" festivals as fulfilled in His second coming).

Additional Old Testament prophecies such as Psalm 22 and Zechariah 12:10 also help to paint a prophetic portrait of our Messiah's last days on earth. As the Apostle Peter writes,

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (1 Peter 1:10–11)

There is no doubt that the Savior of the world was born to die in order to fulfil many direct prophecies and types. Especially that of the Lamb of God, which is a direct comparison to the Passover lamb whose blood was smeared on the doorposts of the Israelites homes to protect their firstborn males from the tenth plague of the Exodus story.

The Apostle John, in the book of Revelation, describes Jesus as "the Lamb who has been slain" (Revelation 13:8). The Apostle Peter adds that we "were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you" (1 Peter 1:18–20).

The predicted role of Jesus as the suffering and sacrificial Lamb of God who will die for sin and rise from the grave is not peripheral to the plan of God, but rather is at the very heart of who Jesus is and what He came to accomplish. Isaiah had already used the prophetic imagery of the Passover lamb in his well-known chapter 53.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. (Isaiah 53:7)



Excerpted from chapter 5 of the book Messiah in the Passover – “Passover in the Gospel of John” by Dr. Mitch Glaser

Celebrate Hanukkah 2017 PDF Print E-mail

12 December - 20 December


Happy Hanukkah!

Take a bite into some of the great reading material we have provided for this wonderful festive season:


Why We Eat Horseradish at Passover PDF Print E-mail


Every year, Jewish people gather in family dining rooms around the world to celebrate the Passover Seder and remember God's redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The Seder is designed to involve all five senses in the retelling of the Exodus story to the next generation. As we celebrate, we imagine that we too were once slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, because "if the Eternal God had not brought our forefathers out from Egypt, then even we, our children, and our children's children might still have been enslaved to Pharaoh in Egypt" (from the traditional Passover service).

We tell our children the story of our deliverance from Egypt so that they can remember the severity of our people's slavery and the wonder of our redemption. According to Rabbi Gamaliel, who tutored the apostle Paul when he was a student, any father who has not taught his children about the Passover lamb, the unleavened bread, or bitter herbs (typically horseradish), "has not fulfilled his duty."

Horseradish – normally used as a garnish – completely overpowers the senses when you eat it on a small piece of matzah. According to Jewish tradition, one must eat enough bitter herbs (maror in Hebrew) to bring tears to the eyes. The tears and the bitter herbs remind each Seder participant how the great affliction the Jewish people endured brought tears to their eyes.

If we fail to remember the bitterness of our slavery in Egypt, we might be tempted to return to the source of our enslavement. Shortly after the Israelites left Egypt, they began to romanticize their affliction and complain to Moses about their perceived lack of food (Ex. 16:1-3). Even though their rations in Egypt were meager, they remembered that "we sat by the pots of meat and… ate bread to the full!" (Ex. 16:3). Their brief adversity in the desert caused them to forget their suffering in Egypt (Ex. 3:7-9; 4:31), not to mention the abundance of plunder they received as a result of their deliverance (Ex. 12:32-38). This is why it is vital to recall the anguish we endured under Pharaoh during the Passover Seder.

If our ancestors, who had personally experienced the bitterness of slavery in Egypt, were so apt to forget the goodness of their redemption, how much more do we tend to overlook the great disparity between our previous anguish and our present deliverance? In the same way, if we don't remember the bitterness of our enslavement to sin, we will not appreciate the wonder of our redemption, which Yeshua the Messiah provided through His death and resurrection. This is why Paul instructs the Ephesian church to remember how they were previously alienated from the covenants of promise and without the hope of God in a desolate world (Eph. 2:11-12).

By "suffering" symbolically through the consumption of horseradish, we remember the bitterness of our slavery and recall the joy of our redemption.


First Fruits of the Resurrection PDF Print E-mail


The Apostle Paul writes that Yeshua's resurrection, which we celebrate at Easter, is the most significant event in history for believers (1 Cor. 15), as our faith would be meaningless without it (15:14).

Paul says that Jesus' resurrection represents the firstfruits of those who have already died (I Cor. 15:20-23). Paul intentionally chooses the word "firstfruits" as an allusion to the Jewish holiday by the same name. God commanded the Nation of Israel to offer the firstfruits of their harvest to Him on the first day following the Sabbath of Passover (Lev 23:9-14).

When God commanded the nation of Israel to offer the firstfruits of their harvest, He was asking the nation to make a sacrifice of faith. If God had already provided the nation a bountiful initial harvest, then the nation could expect an even more bountiful harvest in the coming months. In the same way, Jesus' resurrection gives us hope that we too will experience the resurrection in the future. For us as believers, the resurrection is not simply an historical event, but also a foretaste of what is to come in the future, when God gives us new, redeemed bodies.


The Origin of the Afikomen PDF Print E-mail


The Passover Seder (celebration) contains many poignant traditions, but the eating of the afikomen after the meal is one of the most fascinating customs. The Seder contains 15 separate steps or stages, and the afikomen comes during the twelfth step, which is called tzafun. The Hebrew word tzafun means "hidden" or "concealed," which accurately conveys the uncertain and peculiar origin of the ritual.

Early in the Seder, the leader lifts up the three pieces of matzah, removes the middle piece and breaks it in half. He then takes the larger half of the broken matzah and sets it aside until later in the ceremony. This broken piece of matzah is the afikomen. In some traditions, the children in the home attempt to steal the afikomen during the meal, while in other traditions the leader hides the afikomen from the children, who then search for it. In both traditions, the leader attempts to redeem the afikomen from the children, often in exchange for a small gift.

Surprisingly, afikomen is not Hebrew, but a Greek word, the precise meaning of which is difficult to determine. Some have proposed the derivation of this word from the Greek verb meaning "I have come." The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 40 in the following passage:

Then I said, "Behold, I have come—

In the volume of the book it is written of Me—

To do Your will, O God."

Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will..."
(Hebrews 10:7-9)

Despite the Messianic emphasis of this reading, it does not seem likely this is the meaning of afikomen.

Others suggest that the word afikomen originates from an ancient Greek tradition known as epikomion. In this tradition, the ancient Greeks participated in pagan after-dinner festivities by traveling from one party to another, so the Rabbis named this piece of matzah afikomen to show how the Jewish community must not imitate the pagan parties in their celebrations. Rather than a continuous evening of festivities, the Jewish people must approach the Passover meal with reverence.

Before the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish community concluded the Passover meal with the eating of a small (olive-sized) piece of lamb. This ritual emphasized the importance of the Pesach sacrifice. Today, the afikomen represents this sacrifice, and Jewish people conclude the Passover meal with the eating of a small piece of the afikomen.

When Jesus celebrated His last Passover with His disciples, He gave them matzah as the symbol of His body. The matzah is unleavened, striped and pierced, just as the prophet Isaiah describes the Messiah: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5).

Prior to the meal, this matzah was broken, wrapped in linen, and hidden away. Following the dinner, the matzah reappears. For the Messianic Jewish community, the afikomen symbolically represents the Messiah, as Jesus' body was broken, wrapped in linen, buried, and raised on the third day.

It is interesting that the eating of the afikomen occurs during the tzafun, which means "hidden" or "concealed." Although the afikomen provides a remarkable symbol of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, many Jewish people have not yet discovered Him. The Messiah thus remains hidden from much of the Jewish community.



Removal of the Leaven PDF Print E-mail


During Passover, observant Jewish people refrain from eating leaven. This tradition comes from God's commandment to Israel in the Torah, “For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread” (Ex 12:19-20). As Jewish people prepare for Passover, each family removes the leaven from their home. Then, during a ceremony called Bedikat Chametz, every traditional household conducts a final search for leaven throughout the house, gathers it together and burns it, after which the house is kosher for Passover.

Paul uses this Jewish practice as the background to his discussion in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, "Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. 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.”

At that time, the believing community of Corinth was tolerant of gross immorality. Paul compares sin to leaven and commands the congregation at Corinth to clean out the sin from within their midst in the same way the Jewish community removes leaven from their homes during Passover. Just as leaven permeates an entire lump of dough, sinful behavior affects the entire life of an individual and congregation. If the congregation at Corinth did not deal with the wicked behavior in their midst, then this behavior would defile the whole community.

When making Challah, the traditional Jewish bread for Shabbat, a small amount of yeast is added to the dough, and this bit of yeast leavens the entire loaf of bread. In the same way, sin affects a person’s entire life. We cannot compartmentalize our lives and isolate sin in a particular area so that it does not affect the other areas of our lives. God created us as holistic people, and we deceive ourselves when we think the small or hidden sins in our lives will not affect the other areas of our soul. Even small and hidden sins will permeate and corrode our entire being. As Paul wrote, the reason we must remove the wicked behavior from our lives is that our Messiah was sacrificed, like a Passover lamb, to remove our unrighteousness.

Therefore, we should pursue righteousness, since our Messiah has removed the chametz (leaven) from our lives. Paul describes people with leaven as depraved and wicked, whereas people who are pure in motives and upright in character have no leaven. The “unleavened” person does not have a hidden or secret life.

The preparation for Passover can remind us to think about the unrighteous behaviors we tolerate in our own lives. If we tolerate immoral thoughts or actions, they will begin to affect our spiritual lives and ultimately destroy our soul. If we are serious about honoring God and having a healthy spiritual life, then we cannot tolerate the hidden and secret sins. In the spirit of Passover, let us remove the sin from our lives, so that we are kosher for Passover.



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