Honoring the ultimate sacrifice
By Holly Palombo
The book of Exodus tells the story of the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years. The Israelites cried out to God, and He sent Moses to deliver them.
Moses asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh refused. As a result, God brought 10 plagues on the Egyptians. After the final plague, the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go.
On the night of the final plague, all of the firstborn, both people and animals, were struck down. For the Israelites to be exempt from this plague, they were instructed by God through Moses to slaughter a lamb at twilight and to apply the blood of the lamb to the doorposts of their homes.
In Exodus 12:13-14, the Lord says, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.”
Since God would “pass over” them, the festival became known as “Passover” or “Pesach” in Hebrew.
Should Christians Celebrate Passover?
Although we are no longer required to celebrate Passover under the New Covenant, there are several reasons to consider celebrating Passover. As Christian believers, we celebrate the birth and resurrection of Christ. Well, what about His death?
As I was studying the Passover, God impressed this upon my heart: It is appropriate to celebrate His birth and resurrection, but you were not saved by His birth or resurrection. We have hope of the resurrection of the dead because of the resurrection of Christ, but our redemption came through His death (Romans 5:8-10, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are all sinners.
Romans 3:23 says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” If “all have sinned” then we are all sinners. The penalty of our sin is death.
However, Matthew 18:14 says that God is not willing that any of us should perish. He is not willing because He loves us!
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you look at that second part of Romans 6:23, it says that God gave us a gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus.
So, what does all of that have to do with the Passover? Everything!
The Passover was not just about freeing the Israelites from slavery. It was also a foreshadowing of what was to come: how all of mankind would be freed from slavery through Christ.
You may think you have never been a slave, but Jesus said you were. In John 8:34 Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
The Passover is all about Christ. The lamb slain on that first Passover night was symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed on the cross.
The lamb the Israelites sacrificed had to be closely inspected to be sure there were no defects or blemishes in it. In the same way, Christ was closely inspected by Pilate, Herod, Annas and Caiaphas, and they could find no fault in him – He was the “lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19).
The Israelites placed the blood of the sacrificed lamb on the door frames of their homes so the angel of death would pass over them. When we accept Christ as our Savior, His blood is applied to the “door frames” of our hearts and death “passes over” us, as we receive the gift of eternal life.
The Passover Seder and Its Christian Significance
“Seder” means “order” and is the prescribed sequence of the celebration.
Passover is celebrated with four cups of wine (or grape juice), which represent the four promises God gave His people in Exodus 6:6-7: I will bring you out; I will deliver you; I will redeem you; and, I will take you to be my people.
The first and second cups (the Cup of Sanctification and the Cup of Plagues) signify the fact that Christ freed us from slavery and bondage to sin.
The third cup (the Cup of Redemption) represents God’s promise to “…redeem you with an outstretched arm.” This is the cup Jesus referred to when He asked, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…” (Luke 22:42) Jesus took this “cup” with His outstretched arms on the cross. This is also the same cup He used to initiate the New Covenant, which we call communion.
The fourth cup of wine (the Cup of Ingathering) represents God’s promise to “take you to be My people.” Jesus did not drink the fourth cup when He celebrated Passover with His disciples, because He stated in Matthew 26:29, “I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” The fourth cup is taken in anticipation of drinking it in Heaven at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9).
The other foods on the Seder plate are parsley, horseradish, Charoset (a sweet apple mixture), lamb bone, boiled egg and matzah (unleavened bread). You can easily find information online explaining what these foods represent.
An excellent resource for celebrating a Christian Passover Seder is a pamphlet called “Christ in the Passover” by Rose Publishing. This pamphlet explains the history and symbolism, the elements of the Seder, and a comparison of the Seder and the Lord’s Supper. You can also email me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Passover can be celebrated in your home with an elaborate meal and ceremony or with a simple message and the traditional Passover foods. The main reasons we celebrate Passover as a family are:
To remember how we were freed from the law of sin and death through the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:2).
To teach our children about the history of God’s people and how we as Gentile believers are part of that story through Christ (Exodus 12:25-27).
As a tool to share the Gospel with unsaved family, friends and neighbors. We also use this time to lay hands on our children and speak a blessing over them.
You can celebrate a Christian Passover in your home, and it can be as formal or informal as you like. This year Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 3 and ends Saturday, April 11. Since Easter is on Sunday, April 5, it would be an excellent time to incorporate a Passover element into your Easter celebration with your family.
Holly Palombo is a homeschooling mother of two girls who loves history and studying God’s word. She and her husband live in Lafayette and have attended Crossroads Church for over 12 years.