The Jewish Passover is tomorrow, Tuesday March 31st.
This is an important holiday in Jewish history and it is important for Christianity too. We typically celebrate Passover the Thursday before Easter since that is when Jesus would have celebrated it with the disciples for the last time. That was the year He gave us an amazing gift.
The whole Passover meal and celebration can be very overwhelming, especially if you are not Jewish and don’t know all the rules. This however shouldn’t stop you from talking about this important event in history with your kids. My goal today is to place in your hands a simplified version of the Passover meal, one that you can experience with your children. My prayer is that you begin to instill in your children the depth of meaning this holiday brings and help them realize that God really did have a plan all along!
The First Passover
Long ago the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt was a mean King and made them do hard manual labor. While in Egypt there was a baby boy born in the Israelite nation and his name was Moses. God was going to use Moses to save his people from Israel. When Moses was an adult he went to Pharaoh and asked Him to release the Israelites and let them go to the land God has promised would be theirs. Pharaoh did not want to lose all of his slaves and refused to let them go. But God knew this would happen and He had a rescue plan already made. God sent 10 different plagues on the Egyptians to help convince Pharaoh that He is God and Pharaoh should let the Israelites go. Pharaoh had a stubborn and hard heart and after each plague he continued to refuse to release them.
And so, God had one final plague. God told the Israelites that the death angel would come into the land and kill the firstborn child in every family. God let the Israelites know that the final plague would finally convince Pharaoh to let them go, so they should get everything ready so they could leave quickly. God also informed the Israelites that the death angel would visit every home in the land, whether Jew or Egyptian. To prevent the death angel from killing the firstborn in their home they needed to sacrifice a lamb. When they sacrificed the lamb they were to take the lamb’s blood and spread it over the doorpost of their home. In doing this, the death angel would see the blood and “Pass over” the home and not kill the child within. If they did not place the blood on their doorposts, they would experience the same deaths as the Egyptians. So that night the Jews did as they were told and sacrificed the “Passover lamb” so that their family would be saved from this terrible plague.
When the death angel came to the home of Pharaoh, there was no blood on the doorposts so the angel went in and killed the firstborn son of Pharaoh. This grieved Pharaoh so much that he released the Israelites and told them to leave the land. The Israelites were overjoyed and gathered their things quickly and left Egypt in haste before Pharaoh could change his mind.
God told the Israelites to remember this day every single year. They were to celebrate the Passover and remember that God rescued them from death and set them free from Egypt and their slavery.
The Celebration of Passover
Every year the Jews celebrate Passover to remember their ancestors’ great rescue from Egypt. They use a lot of symbols to help tell the story in a memorable way. Each family puts together a Seder plate that contains symbols to help the father explain the story to his children.
Here is the explanation of each piece of the Seder plate.
- A cup of Salt Water: This symbol represents the tears of life. Life without redemption is a life filled with tears. The Israelites shed many tears before they would rescued from a life of slavery.
- Horseradish- This symbolizes bitterness. It reminds the Israelites of the hard, bitter life of slavery.
- Parsley- This herb is one of the first greens of spring in Israel. It represents a life that is reborn, just like the trees and plants in the spring time. The Jews believed that salt water purifies all that it touches. They would dip their parsley in the salt water to remind them of the covenant between God and his people that He would purify them from evil.
- Charoset- A sweet apple and nut mixture. It reminded the Jews of the mortar that the Jews used to make bricks in Egypt. This was a “sweet” reminder that God took the bitter things of life (a life of slavery) and redeemed them out of their slavery and set them free.
- Hardboiled egg- An hard boiled egg is a symbol of a life that has been sacrificed for another. The Passover lamb was sacrificed to say the life of the first born child in the Jewish household.
- Lamb’s Leg Bone- This bone is a symbol of God’s outstretched arm that came down and delivered the Israelites from Pharaoh. God used the Passover lamb to take the place of the first born.
- Matza bread- Yeast symbolized sin. During Passover they make bread that does not contain yeast. Since the matza bread is made without yeast, it symbolizes a life that is lived without sin. The father of the home will take 3 matza bread crackers and take out the middle one. He will them break it in half and hide one piece of the bread. Later in the meal the kids will find it and then bring it back to the table.
The Last Passover Meal
When Jesus sat down at the table to partake in the Passover meal with His disciples, He started to explain to them the deeper meaning behind this glorious celebration. Jesus wanted them to see that He was going to be the final Passover Lamb. No longer would they need to sacrifice animals for their sins – He would be the last and final sacrifice. Just like the Israelites had been slaves to Pharaoh, we ourselves are slaves to something even deadlier. We are each a slave to sin. If we continue in the way we are going and do not have a sacrifice to cover our sins, we too will be killed. Jesus began to explain to His disciples that His blood was going to be the ultimate sacrifice for their sins. Jesus wanted them to see the deeper meaning of each one of the symbols of the Seder plate.
- A cup of salt Water: A life without a redeemer is a sad life filled with tears. Jesus had come to be our redeemer to make us righteous, right with God.
- Horseradish- This was to remind us that we are no longer slaves to Pharaoh but we are slaves to our own sin. If we continue to live a life of sin we will have a bitter and hard life.
- Parsley – Our life like the parsley can be dipped into the redemptive salt water. Our lives can be purified from evil.
- Charoset- is a sweet apple and nut mixture. This mixture can remind us that God can make our sinful life, sweet if we allow Jesus to be our redeemer.
- Hard-boiled Egg – A hard boiled egg is a symbol of new life. Jesus would soon be sacrificed for our lives. He would be the substitute that allows us to have eternal life.
- Lamb’s Leg Bone- This bone is a symbol of God’s outstretched arm that came down and delivered us from our own sin. Jesus’ blood allows us to be passed over. We do not have to receive the punishment of death. But instead Jesus was sacrificed so that we can spend eternity with Him in heaven.
- Matza bread- Jesus is the only life that has ever or will ever live that is without sin. The three pieces of Matza bread are symbols of the trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus body was going to be broken just like the middle piece was broken. It was then going to be taken away and hidden just like Jesus body when He died on the cross and went to hell to defeat Satan. Then Jesus would be brought back to life, just like the hidden bread would be brought back to the table.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 talks about the Passover night when Jesus took the Matza bread and the wine and explained the deeper meaning to his disciples.
The bread represented His body. He was going to take our place and take the punishment that each one of us rightly deserves. The wine represented His blood. His blood was going to be the final sacrifice for our sins. By shedding His blood the judgment for our sins that we deserved would be “passed over” to Him. He would take our place so that we can be made righteous, made right with God.
This was God’s redemption plan all along. The Israelites’ rescue from Egypt was to be an example of the final plan to come. God had a plan all along to save us and give us a way to spend eternity with Him.
Take Home Message
So why is it important to celebrate Passover? It allows us to remember the importance of what Jesus did so long ago. It is a good reminder that life without a Passover lamb is a life that is bitter, hard and sad.
But anyone who…
• Believes that Jesus is God
• Believes Jesus came to earth to die on the cross for our sins
• Believes that Jesus was the last Passover lamb, taking the punishment for our sins to let us spend eternity in heaven with Him.
• Commits to following Jesus and obeying His commandments
…will be saved and will spend forever in heaven with God.
Our prayer is that each family will take a moment to remember these stories of times past. To know and understand that they are more than just stories, but actually your family’s history. God wants you to accept Jesus as your final Passover Lamb so that He can be your Lord and Savior.
I hope this has made it simpler to talk through Passover with your children. If you would like more information on this important holiday or would like to celebrate in a more traditional and ritual way please see these posts from last year.