Passover is this week and many Christians celebrate acknowledging that Jesus is God’s Passover lamb. But in the midst of COVID-19 and the turmoil that has beset our nation, we may experience some obstacles to the traditional formal service. So, how can we be creative and still honor this spiritual event?
Passover commemorates an event which occurred almost 3500 years ago. During the time of Moses when Israel was enslaved in Egypt, plagues were sent as judgement against the false gods of the nation. The last of these plagues was the angel of death who came to every household and family and took the life of the firstborn. The Hebrews had been kept safe to this point by the hand of God. Nine other plagues had visited Egypt but did not fall on Israel in the land of Goshen. But for this last plague, God showed His children a way to protect themselves from the angel of death as he swept over the country.
Each household was to take a lamb, sacrifice it, and put the blood of the lamb across their doorway. This sign would tell the angel of death to “pass over” this particular dwelling. Then they were to roast the lamb and share it with all of the family members so that nothing remained. In this way, they would be protected. (Exodus 12)
The next day after Passover, a great deliverance took place. Israel left the place of their bondage laden with the spoils of Egypt and travelled towards their promised land. Moses led a mass exodus out of Egypt and into the desert where they would wander for forty years before entering the designated territory.
The Christian Passover 2020
Today many Jews and Christians celebrate this miraculous deliverance with a Passover celebration. As Christians, we can look to the Jewish celebration of Passover with two perspectives…the historical deliverance of Israel and the light of New Testament revelation.
Jesus is our Passover lamb. He was sacrificed on the cross at exactly the same time that the priests offered the Pascal lamb on the temple altar. The blood of Jesus is a powerful protection against evil, the powers of darkness, disease, and death. In faith and prayer, we apply His precious blood to our lives, our families, and our nation.
The traditional Jewish Passover Seder (“Seder” means order because of the fixed order of the service) is a beautiful ceremony which commemorates the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. The Passover Seder Meal tells the story of Israel and God’s grace and love towards His children. The joyful celebration includes a Haggadah (printed order of the service), a meal, and a Seder plate which has prophetic elements that remind the participants of God’s intervention in their life…
- Matzoh: three unleavened matzohs to remember the haste of their departure from Egypt and the lack of leaven or sin
- Maror: bitter herbs, usually horseradish or romaine lettuce, used to symbolize the bitterness of slavery.
- Charoses: a mixture of apples, nuts, wine, and cinnamon, as a reminder of the mortar used by the Jews
- Beitzah: a roasted egg, as a symbol of life and the perpetuation of existence.
- Karpas: a vegetable, preferably parsley or celery, representing hope and redemption; served with a bowl of salted water to represent the tears shed.
- Zeroah: traditionally a piece of roasted lamb shankbone, symbolizing the paschal sacrificial offering
- Wine: four glasses of wine are consumed during the service to represent the four-fold promise of redemption, with a special glass left for Elijah the prophet.
In our present situation, it may be difficult to celebrate this holiday in the traditional way with the full order of service. However, since Passover is a historical and spiritual reminder of God’s provision and protection, allow me to offer a simple, non-traditional way to commemorate this event.
Begin with praise to the Lord. Thank Him for all of the blessings that you and your family have enjoyed. You may ask each person to share one significant time when God showed His faithfulness to them.
Light candles to represent Jesus as the Light of the world. Invite His presence to come and be with you in this time.Traditionally, a woman would light the candles and say a blessing.
Read some passages of scripture. Exodus 12 is the historical Passover story, but include some favorite scriptures from the New Testament. Each participant might read their favorite passage or use the scriptures listed below with each prophetic element of the meal.
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. Exodus 12:14
Wash your hands. This is a symbolic act of cleansing and could be done at the table with a bowl and towel. Allow a time of reflection and repentance before God. Read Psalm 24:
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob., Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory. Psalm 24.
Enjoy a good meal together with your family. Instead of the Seder plate, improvise with some prophetic elements to be shared during the meal.
- Karpas…a green vegetable or any plant that represents new life (this could be dipped in salt water that represents tears that were turned to joy)
My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Song of Solomon 2:10-13
- Bread or Matzah…Jesus is the bread of life.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35
- A sweet mixture of fruit and nuts or a fruit salad…God is good.
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8
- Meat (or main course for those who are vegetarians)…sacrifice of Jesus.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:19-25
End the meal with Communion. The classic passage of scripture is 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; however, in this time it may be appropriate to recite Psalm 91 and prophesy the truths as part of your covenant with God:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, And see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”