"I am the vine, you are the branches"
Yeshua Our Passover Lamb
In this newsletter we want to take a closer look at Yeshua, our Passover Lamb. But to understand Yeshua as the Passover Lamb, we must understand a little bit about Passover.
Historically, Passover in Hebrew is Pesach. Passover is a festival of freedom. The first Passover took place on the fourteenth day of Nisan while the children of Israel were in Egypt. This usually takes place somewhere in our months of March/April. On the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, the month of Nisan, the people sacrificed a one year old lamb without defect or blemish. They took the blood of the animal and smeared its blood on the sides and top of the doorframe of the house. Then they roasted the lamb and ate it with their sandals on and their staff in their hand. That night, the death angel went throughout the land of Egypt and whereever the blood was not on the doorpost, the angel struck down the first born of that house. Moses and all the children of Israel went out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea miraculously on dry ground as the water peeled back and all of Egypt's army was drowned in the sea when God folded the water back upon them. Later when the children of Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai, God made the Passover one of His Appointed Times to be celebrated every year to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from the hand of slavery. And so God's Name is remembered forever for His mighty deliverance throughout the world each year, even to today. But the biggest tragedy is that we, believing Gentiles who have been grafted into Israel, do not remember as we have been commanded to, even by Yeshua.
The Last Supper/Seder
The Gospels record Yeshua's last Passover Meal. We call it the Last Supper, but Yeshua was celebrating the Feast of Passover. We know this because Yeshua tells Peter and John to go and prepare the Passover for them to eat and as the story goes, they went. Upon entering the city, they saw a man carrying a pitcher of water whom they were to ask, "Where is the guestroom in which they were to eat the Passover?" Eating the Passover not only meant eating the lamb, but the whole meal of the Seder. Seder, which means order, is the historic recounting of the Exodus. Yeshua celebrating Passover, specifically the Seder Meal, is what we see happening in the gospels, which we call the Lord's Supper or the Last Supper. Recounting the Scripture, we see Yeshua taking a piece of matzah (unleavened bread), breaking it, and giving thanks. Because of Anti–Semitism in the early church, the word for unleavened bread is misinterpreted to read "bread" when in fact, at the time of Passover Yeshua would have eaten unleavened according to the Torah. Yeshua then says, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
Now, this piece of matzah was not just any piece of matzah, but it was called the Afikomen. The Afikomen is one of three pieces of matzah used during the Seder. It is broken in two and one half is wrapped in a white napkin and hidden to be found later during the Seder while the other half is broken and passed around the table. There is much meaning here. First of all, leaven represents sin in our lives. Do not be confused when Yeshua relates heaven to leaven, for He was referring to the active ingredient of yeast. But Paul says, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed." Yeshua was the perfect lamb without sin. Second, the three matzot are said to represent, according to the believers, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; but to the Jewish people, it represents the three letters that make up the word Tanakh, which is the Hebrew Scriptures: Torah, Nevi'im, and Kethuvim; the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Third, the first half of the matzah that is wrapped and then later found represents Yeshua buried in white linen that will later be found or resurrected. And so we see here that Yeshua was speaking of His death and burial and resurrection. Fourth, traditionally, the Rabbis had always taught that the last food to be tasted at the Passover Seder was to be the Passover lamb. Now at Yeshua's Seder, there was no Passover lamb because He was going to be the Lamb. Isaiah 53:1 says, "Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" This word "arm" is the word zeroah, which is the word used for shank bone. The Passover lamb could only be slaughtered in Jerusalem, so the shank bone was used as a substitute for the lamb at the Seder for all those who could not go up to Jerusalem. At Yeshua's Seder, the last food to be eaten was the matzah. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the rabbis also changed the symbol of the Passover lamb to be the matzah and the shank bone was used in remembrance of the lamb.
In no uncertain terms, Yeshua is the Passover Lamb!
Next we see Yeshua taking the cup. "And in the same way, He took the cup after they had eaten saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.'" When the Scriptures say, "In the same way," they are referring to the fact that Yeshua took the cup and blessed it with the traditional blessing. Now, the Seder is divided into four parts; each part coincided with a cup of wine and each cup has a different name based on the promises of God. The first cup is called the Cup of Blessing or the Cup of Sanctification or in Hebrew, the Kiddush Cup (Luke 22:17, 1 Corinthians 10:16). The second cup is called the Cup of Wrath (Luke 22:42-44). This cup is not drunk, but poured out as the plagues of Egypt are recited. As it is written, when Yeshua was in the Garden of Gethsemane He asks His Father to remove this cup, but Yeshua agrees to drink the cup of wrath for us by dying on the cross. The third cup is called the Cup of Salvation or Redemption (Psalm 116:13). This is the cup that is drunk after the supper and this is the cup that Yeshua refers to as His blood, the blood of the Passover lamb that was slaughtered and the blood that was put on the doorposts in Egypt that first Passover night. Yeshua once again predicts His death and compares His death to the Passover lamb. The smearing of the blood on the doorposts accomplished the redemption of the Israelites from their slavery to the Egyptians and Yeshua's blood set us free from the slavery of sin which is also represented by the leavened bread and Egypt our taskmaster, the devil our adversary who has enslaved us. This is why when we celebrate Passover it is like our own personal exodus from Egypt. So, once again to quote Paul, "Do you not know that a little leaven (sin) leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." The fourth cup of the Seder is the Cup of the Kingdom (Luke 22:18, 20; Matthew 26:28-29). Yeshua said that He earnestly desired to eat the Passover with His disciples. He told them that He would not eat the Passover until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom and that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.
And so Yeshua drinks the last cup and tells His disciples that one day they would all eat and drink again in the Kingdom. And that cup which He will drink when He comes back is the fifth cup or the Elijah Cup, which is not drunk at the Seder but is there in anticipation of the return of Elijah the Prophet who is symbolic of the Messiah and the Messianic Age. Malachi writes, "See, I will send the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes." An angel of the Lord spoke about John the Baptist, "And he will go before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Yeshua confirms that John was the Elijah who was to come and then when John saw Yeshua he said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world," confirming that Yeshua was the Passover Lamb.
Do This In Remembrance of Me
Yeshua tells us that we are to remember Him when we do these things. What things? Well, the Passover Seder of course. The church has once again changed an Appointed Time of God, Passover, specifically the Seder, and reduced it to what they call Communion. They changed Passover altogether and called it Good Friday, which most of the time does not even fall on the fourteenth day of Nisan. So how can we believers truly remember Yeshua as He has told us to, as the Passover Lamb, if we do not keep the Passover? How can we remember His redemptive death on our part if we do not partake of the matzah (the Afikomen) and the fourth cup (the Cup of Redemption) of the Seder? How can we do as Paul has said to do by keeping the feast without leaven if we do not keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread? And that leaves the Resurrection: how can we keep the correct day of the Resurrection if we do not keep the first two, for the first two lead to the third feast, the Feast of the First Fruits (Leviticus 23:9-14)? Paul tells us that Yeshua is the First Fruits from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). At some point before Yeshua returns, the body of believers is going to have to face the fact that we must walk in the truth so that we can truly be the Body of Yeshua.
This year, let us remember the Messiah as our Passover Lamb and let us celebrate the feast by taking the leaven out of not only our homes, but our lives.
Happy Passover and Resurrection!