We recently celebrated our annual “Messiah in the Passover” event with a group of individuals representing nearly ten local churches. The Rabbi from a nearby Messianic congregation led us through the service explaining the deep symbolism and adding personal anecdotes that made the Haggadah (booklet informing the order of the Seder service) come alive. We enthusiastically sang “Dayenu,” tasted the “bitter herbs,” and rejoiced with the retelling of the mighty Exodus from Egypt.
Every year I get excited about inviting others to experience what we have enjoyed for the past several years. Most who attend this particular event are not Jewish, but what better rationale for faith in Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) is there than seeing the type of the Passover Lamb fulfilled in the Lamb of God?
In the midst of my enthusiasm however, a nagging question from some of my non-Jewish friends bothers me. In various ways they ask, “Why should I care about Passover, I’m not Jewish!? This is for Jewish people, right? Not for me….”
This off-handed dismissal of the celebration of Passover by Gentile believers mystifies me. Certainly they are missing something.
So, why should Gentiles, especially those who identify themselves as Christians, care about Passover? There are three aspects of this commemoration I wish all believers could understand.
I just finished teaching an adult class on “Knowing Why We Believe.” It seems to me the symbolism in Passover is a great apologetic for our faith in Yeshua, whether we are Gentile or Jewish believers in the redemption of Messiah Jesus. The traditions surrounding the Afikomen (the broken piece of matzah hidden away during a Seder to symbolically represent Messiah’s body which was beaten, wrapped in linen, buried and raised on the third day) should affirm our conviction that Yeshua is indeed our Messiah.
Scripture tells us Jesus observed the Passover, in what we know as The Last Supper. Holding a pierced, striped, unleavened piece of matzah and imagining Jesus Himself, saying, “This is my body,” excites me every time. Drinking from the “cup of redemption” as He says, “This is the new covenant in my blood” brings new energy to my stale and perfunctory worship. I wish every believer could experience these deep connections between the Passover Seder and our Savior Jesus, and allow the Seder observance to deepen and strengthen their relationship with the faithful God we serve.
Second, I wish every Gentile would appreciate the opportunity Passover gives to put Easter in its proper context. Do you think it’s just coincidence Yeshua was crucified during Passover, laid in the tomb on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and rose again on the Feast of Firstfruits? It’s not! Seeing the Hebrew calendar fulfilled in Messiah Jesus should renew our appreciation for the Jewish roots of our faith, and give us a sense of respect for, and identity with, Jewish people. It also serves to remind us of the yet-unfulfilled Fall Festivals, ending with Sukkot, when Messiah will “tabernacle” with His people (Revelation 21:3).
Third, I believe Passover should provoke the question, “If all of this symbolism is really there in the Passover Seder, why don’t more people see it?” As we recognize the clearly symbolic presence of Yeshua in the Passover, we should be inspired to share that realization with our Jewish friends. Certainly, He is the Messiah for both Jews and Gentiles!
Yes, the story of Passover is uniquely Jewish. But the God who delivered the Hebrews from slavery in the Exodus narrative, the God who delivered the Children of Israel from the wicked plans of Haman in the book of Esther, and the God who has preserved Jewish people through the Holocaust and present day atrocities, is the same God who cares about you and me. Passover is a great time to thank Him for His faithfulness to not only the Jewish people, but also His faithfulness in the details of our own lives.
Yeshua said (just before Passover, Mark 11:17), “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…” His desire is the worship of every “tribe, tongue, people and nation (Revelation 5:9).” Certainly He is honored by our worship as we celebrate Passover and remember His faithfulness. “For even Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Written by a Life in Messiah staff member in the United States