Passover is the season of redemption. It invites thoughts of a seder meal complete with crumbly matzah, spicy horseradish, parsley dipped in salt water, sweet kiddush wine, joyous singing, and of course a lengthy, grand, drawn-out retelling of the story of the exodus from Egypt: “We were slaves in Egypt, but now we are free!”

The Hebrew word pesach literally means “to pass over.” This is precisely what happened. Pharaoh hardened his heart against Moses’ warnings to let the Hebrew people leave Egypt to worship God. After the LORD meted out nine horrible plagues, the Angel of the LORD struck down all the firstborn of Egypt while the children of Israel ate their Passover meals safely under the protection of the sign of the blood on their doorposts.

In Jewish homes, the Passover Seder has been repeated year after year since that time, transmitting our hope for redemption from generation to generation. The Bible commands the Jewish people to sacrifice and eat the Passover lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs on the first night of Passover. It’s a remembrance of the night that God passed over Egypt, striking down the firstborn of Egypt but sparing the firstborn of Israel. Each year we fulfill the biblical commandment, “You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt’” (Exodus 13:8). A Passover Haggadah helps us tell the story and stay on track through the four- or five-hour seder meal.

Passover and Yeshua

Fascinatingly, the oldest description of a Passover Seder is found in the New Testament. According to the Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper our Master shared with his disciples on that fateful night was a Passover Seder. Yeshua shared a cup with his disciples before the meal and another after the meal, and he broke unleavened bread with them. He instructed them to do these things in the future in his remembrance.

Yeshua has therefore invited us to partake in a seder meal like the one he shared with his disciples the night before his death. This adds depth and meaning to our walk of faith with our Messiah. Yeshua began his seder by looking with hope to the ultimate redemption, as he said, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16). He also told them, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:18).

That night, he shared not only the matzah and wine but also each of the elements of the seder meal with his closest disciples. As he did so, he entrusted them with his memory, charging them with his instruction: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). A Passover Seder not only replays the events that led to God’s redemption of his people from Egypt but also paints a picture of the whole world’s future redemption in the coming Messianic Age.