Messianic Symbolism in the Passover Seder

The Jews have been celebrating Passover for thousands of years and practicing traditions of which they only know half the meaning. Christians have been celebrating a mixture of Passover and pagan holidays during that time, but they too know some of the meaning of the Jewish traditions. Most of them just don’t know that they know. Here is just some of the rich meaning behind the traditions and commands of the Passover seder:

The Karpas

We eat parsley or celery greens dipped in salt water to remember the hyssop with which our ancestors painted the lamb’s blood on their doorposts and with which Yeshua was given vinegar on the cross. We dip the greens in salt water to remind us of the tears of bondage in Egypt and sin, as well as the tears of joy at our redemption.

The Matzah

We eat unleavened bread to remember how our ancestors had to leave Egypt in such a hurry that they had not time to allow their bread to rise, and it baked in the sun right on top of their packs.

The matzah is striped and pierced (think of a typical Saltine) to represent the wounds of our Messiah who was pierced for our transgressions and striped for our healing.

In the center of the Passover table, we place three pieces of matzah wrapped in white linen. Each piece is in a separate fold or compartment of the cloth and represents one part of the Trinity.

The Yachatz

At the start of the seder, we break the middle matzah in half, wrap it in a separate cloth and hide it. This is called the afikomen and reminds us of how the Messiah’s body was broken for us, wrapped in a linen burial shroud and buried in the tomb for three days. It also reminds us that he was taken away and hidden from our view after his resurrection.

At the end of the seder, the children all go to find the afikomen. This tells us that only those who are willing to look for the Messiah with the heart of a child will find him. The child who returns with the matzah may bargain with the leader for a prize. When the Messiah returns to rule his kingdom, he will not be coming for a slovenly bride, but one who is pure, who has worked out her salvation with earnestness. He will accept our gifts of gold and silver but destroy our chaff.

The Maror

We eat horseradish or some other bitter herb to remind us of our ancestors’ bitter suffering in Egypt. Although their suffering was great, so was their redemption and reward. We suffer too, but Yeshua said to rejoice when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. Our reward in heaven will be more than just compensation.

The Charoset

We eat a paste made of apples, nuts, cinnamon, and wine to remind us of the mortar used to lay bricks in Egypt. It tastes much better than the mud it resembles, however, which is appropriate, because time spent in hard labor as a community binds us together and strengthens us as families and a nation.

The Lamb

Since there is no Temple in Jerusalem, we cannot have an actual Passover lamb. Many families will include a roasted lamb bone on the seder plate to symbolize the lamb whose blood marked the doorposts of the faithful in Egypt. The bone is roasted to remind us that the Passover lamb is to be roasted over a fire and eaten in whole. Whatever is leftover must be burned in a fire. The lamb also represents the Lamb of God who was slain to take away the sins of the whole world.

Although many people only eat chicken or some other bird on Passover so as to avoid even the appearance of having sacrificed somewhere besides the Temple, there is no commandment to that effect. Since this Passover can only ever be a rehearsal, no blood sacrifices are involved.

The Wine

We drink four cups of wine at Passover, though they need not be four full cups and can even be diluted or filled with simple grape juice instead of wine. The cups represent four promises that God made to Israel regarding slavery:

Exodus 6:6-7 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and (1) I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and (2) I will rid you out of their bondage, and (3) I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And (4) I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

We drink the first cup immediately after the opening blessing to remind us that God saves us from our sins, while we were yet sinners. He took our ancestors out of Egypt before he gave them his laws or told them to do anything at all except to trust in him. Likewise, we do not need to complete our transformation to be saved, but only to commit ourselves to the process.

We drink the second cup after telling the story of the Exodus and explaining the significance of the various items on the seder plate, but before eating the main meal. This represents our sanctification through obedience to God’s law after our salvation from sin. God gave his Torah to Israel after saving them from Egypt and before allowing them to enter the Land. Only after we rid ourselves of bondage to sin can we partake in the full richness of God’s promises.

We drink the third cup, the cup of redemption, after the meal. This is the cup that Yeshua held when he said, This is my blood of the new covenant. Since sin entered the world through one son of God, so sin can only be taken away through another. As the perfectly sinless only begotten Son of God, the Messiah is the only person whose blood can redeem all of mankind from sin. Although we work hard to rid our lives of sin, we could never remove it through our own efforts. True redemption can only be a gift of God.

We drink the fourth cup to symbolize our union with God as his people. Yeshua did not drink the fourth cup because his mission was not yet complete. Although his blood was given as an earnest of that time, the New Covenant has not fully come. Only when he returns to rule his Kingdom will he drink the fourth cup and usher in the age of the New Covenant, writing his Torah on our hearts so that we will no longer have to teach or be taught about God. We will know him and his ways in our very flesh.

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6 Responses to Messianic Symbolism in the Passover Seder

  1. Francis says:

    The Messiah, “The Light” of the old and The New Covenant, “The Light” which enlightens every man born into the world”……. “”Let There Be Light” and there was Light”…….
    As for The NEW Covenant.
    Jer 31:31-37 “Behold, the days come, says YHWH, that I will make a NEW COVENANT with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: NOT ACCORDING TO THE COVENANT THAT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS IN THE TIME THAT I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO BRING THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT FOR THEY BROKE THAT COVENANT, although I was an husband unto them, says YHWH: (Thankfully no longer natural “fathers” but YHWH, “Our Father” in “the NEWness of The Spirit not the letter”)
    But this shall be the NEW covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, says YHWH, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts(not in stone, but in their heart consciousness); and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be MY people. (“Come Out of her, MY people”! Come out of this world and it’s systems of religion)
    And every man shall no longer teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, “Know YHWH”, for they shall all know ME, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says YHWH: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
    Thus says YHWH, which gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; YHWH of hosts is HIS name:
    If those ordinances depart from before ME, says YHWH, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before ME for ever.
    Thus says YHWH; If Heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says YHWH.”
    In The NEW Covenant, “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, whose circumcision is that of the flesh, he is a Jew who is one inwardly, whose circumcision was of the heart” as he was immersed in, of, by and through The Holy, Set Apart Spirit that is of The Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL…….
    And The NEW Spiritual Israel?
    “A Holy nation”…….
    “A nation of kings and priests” indeed and Truth, and the Spiritual Jews are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” whose “citizenship(Life) is in Heaven”.
    They are not of this wicked, evil world and it’s systems of religion because they have taken heed unto The Call of The Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL to “Come out of her, MY people”…….
    And the NEW Spiritual Jew is exhorted to “set their affections on things above, Heavenly things” and not be of those “whose god is their bellies, and whose glory is in their shame, because they mind earthly things”…….
    Sadly, there are multitudes who profess a belief in The Messiah with their mouth only for they “love this world and it’s things”…….
    All such wil

  2. jay c says:

    Hi Francis! I think I’m in agreement with everything you wrote, except for this one part:

    In The NEW Covenant, “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, whose circumcision is that of the flesh, he is a Jew who is one inwardly, whose circumcision was of the heart…”

    YHWH told us through Jeremiah that, “Behold, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…” In other words, both the old and the new covenants are with the houses of Israel and Judah. When Paul wrote that a Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly, he wasn’t saying that God’s promises to the descendants of Judah would no longer apply to them. He was playing off the meaning of the word, Yehudah, which is “praised.” He was saying that calling yourself by the label of Jew and being circumcised in the flesh does not automatically make one praiseworthy, but those who are circumcised in the heart and worship God in truth, they are the ones who deserve to be called Yehudah. Those of us who desire to be a part of the New Covenant can only do so by being joined “with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” Many of those who were born into those houses have already been pruned away and many more will. The trees, however, will be saved or else God’s word would be false.

  3. jay c says:

    I should add this. After God said that the New Covenant would be with the houses of Israel and Judah, he then said, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days…” I believe this is simply a restatement and that he left Judah out because Israel and Judah will once again be united as a single nation. Ezekiel’s two sticks will be joined together again into one tree.

  4. Francis says:

    The question yet remains, what is the house of Israel today? what is the house of Judah today?
    The answer has been given:
    A NEW Spiritual Israel, and Israel which has been since the destruction of the earthly, natural kingdom centered in jerusalem.
    “A Holy nation”…….
    “A nation of kings and priests” indeed and Truth, and the Spiritual Jews(Israelites are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” because they know that “citizenship(Life) is in Heaven”.
    They are not of this wicked, evil world and it’s systems of religion because they have taken heed unto The Call of The Only True G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL to “Come out of her, MY people”…….
    And the NEW Spiritual Jew(Israelite) is exhorted to “set their affections on things above, Heavenly things” and not be of those “whose god is their bellies, and whose glory is in their shame, because they mind earthly things”…….
    A New Covenant for A New Israel!
    “A Holy nation” of “kings and priests”, all of whom are thankful that, that which was “decaying and waxing old” DID “vanish away” with the destruction of the natural, earthly kingdom centered in jerusalem.
    “THY Kingdom” DID “Come”, and IS, indeed and Truth…….
    No longer old, natural, earthly and temporal, The NEW Israel is Spiritual, Heavenly and Eternal…….
    All Thanks, Praise and Glory Be Unto The Only True G-D, Father(Creator)of ALL…….

  5. jay c says:

    A new covenant for a renewed Israel, not a different Israel. The first covenant was made with the physical descendants of Jacob, and God told Jeremiah that the new covenant would also be made with the physical descendants. Fortunately for the rest of the world, a mixed multitude was there at the giving of the Torah at Sinai and again at the giving of the Spirit in Jerusalem more than a thousand years later. Those people were grafted into Israel and made inheritors of the covenants by adoption. Israel can never be replaced or else God is a liar for the promises he made to the contrary. She can only be supplemented.

  6. Francis says:

    That which “waxed old” DID “vanish away” indeed and Truth…….
    A New Covenant for A New Spiritual Israel…….
    If you wish you could say renewed…….