Celebrating Jesus through observing Passover

As the biblical feast of Passover approaches, Alicia shares the event’s personal significance for her family, as well as the global family of believers.

Mom, when do we get to eat?” 

Mom, how many people are coming over?” 

Mom, did you remember to get the gift for the kid who finds the afikomen (hidden unleavened bread)?” 

Mom, is it time to eat yet?!” 

I imagine Jewish mothers have been answering these questions for centuries, and now I hear the same from my own children.   

On the eve of Passover, Jewish families around the world gather in their homes for the Seder meal to commemorate the Exodus — God’s miraculous rescue of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. In 2024, on 22 April, families will again observe this 3,500-year-old tradition. 

I feel a strong connection to my ancestors during the holiday of Passover. I am the first person in our family’s line in nearly 2,000 years to build a life in Israel. My ancestors were part of the Judah tribe, which was scattered throughout Europe after Rome conquered Jerusalem in AD 70. They ended up in a small village in Poland, where they lived for centuries; speaking Yiddish, studying the Torah (Old Testament) and living simple lives.  

It would have been their dream to return to Israel, and I know it would have been an answer to centuries of prayer to know that their descendants are now living and raising their children in Israel, as they first did. Celebrating Passover always connects me to my ancestors: their story, their struggle, their hopes and dreams. It also anticipates the future lives of — and my prayers for — my children. 

Connecting Passover with the life of Jesus 

As a Messianic Jew living in Israel, it is important that my children understand their Jewish heritage as well as walk in their identities as believers in Yeshua (Jesus). One of my favourite ways to do this is to teach them the connections between the Old and New Testaments. 

There are powerful parallels between the first Passover and the life of Jesus. Here are just a few: 

  • The Exodus is the story of the physical salvation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt, and the life of Jesus is the offer of spiritual salvation from the bondage of sin for the entire world. 

  • The Exodus is the story of the birth of the Israelites (the family of Jacob/Israel) as a real nation of people. Their leader was not voted in. Their customs and laws, written in stone, were not created by man; they were the only nation in history to receive their laws directly from the mouth of God. Their leader, Moses, functioned as a mediator between God and Israel. 

The life of Jesus is the story of the birth of the global family of God. Our king is Jesus, who is the mediator between God and man. His life, death and resurrection created the new covenant Jeremiah spoke of in Jeremiah 31:1-3. Our customs are found in the New Testament and the laws are written in our hearts. 

  • At the very first Passover, the Passover lambs were to be slaughtered at three o’clock in the afternoon. Jesus died on the cross at three o’clock in the afternoon on the feast of Passover. 

  • During the first Passover, the people of Israel were told to take a lamb inside their homes to live with them for a certain number of days. Then, on Passover, it was to be sacrificed. The blood of a lamb was applied to each family’s door frame to save the people from physical death.  

At Mount Sinai, God instructed Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant and also to construct the Tabernacle, which was placed in the centre of the tribes. From an aerial view, the four tribes in each direction with the Tabernacle in the centre formed a cross. The Spirit of God dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant, which was in the Holy of Holies.  

Jesus, the Lamb of God, came and dwelt among the people He came to save. John 1:14 says: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (NIV). The Greek word for ‘dwelt’ here literally reads, 'Tabernacled', a picture from Exodus.  

Just as the Passover lamb’s blood protected the families of Israel, Jesus’ death and resurrection saves us from spiritual, eternal death. He took the sins of the world upon Himself so anyone who calls on His name will become His children (John 1:12). 

  • During the Passover Seder, the Israelites drink wine and eat unleavened bread in remembrance of the Exodus.  

What believers call the Last Supper was the Passover meal. This is where Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and then instructed His followers to eat the bread and drink the wine He passed around in remembrance of Him. Today, we call this Communion.   

  • The Israelites crossed the Red Sea three days after leaving Egypt, and Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. 

Connections between Passover and Pentecost: 

  • Fifty days after the Israelites left Egypt, Moses received the Law directly from God on Mount Sinai, and Moses passed the Law on to the Hebrew nation.   

Fifty days after the crucifixion of Jesus, at the Jewish Festival of Weeks, the Apostles received the Holy Spirit. The Church calls this event Pentecost, and it is known as the ’birthday of the Church.’

While waiting for Moses to descend from Mount Sinai, the Hebrew people became impatient and asked Aaron to make a golden calf. Moses was told by God to return to the people because they were worshipping an idol. As a result of this great sin, 3,000 people died. 

At Pentecost, when the disciples began preaching to Jewish pilgrims on the steps of the temple, 3,000 people believed and were baptised. The first church grew exponentially on its first day! 

I feel a renewed excitement for observing Passover with my family this year, as we can thank God for His salvation. Whether you remember Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection at Easter or also observe Passover, I pray the meaning of why we celebrate this time of year will bring new life in our hearts and communities around the world.  

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