In the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible, Old Testament), the Passover in Egypt (Exodus 12) was the birth of the people of Israel. Their deliverance from slavery confirmed God's earlier promises to Abraham to make him into a great people or goy gadol (Genesis 12:2). |
Passover [Hebrew, pesach, "to pass over"] became the most important festival in later Hebrew history. It often sparked spiritual renewal when national vision needed revival (Joshua 5; 2 Chronicles 30 and 35; Ezra 6). In later Judaism, it became the focus of messianic expectation. Even today in Jewish homes, a table setting is placed for Elijah, the Messiah's forerunner, which testifies to the enduring hope that the Mashiach will come at Pesach.
In the New Testament, Passover pictured the spiritual liberation and new life created by Yeshua's death (as a sacrificial lamb provided by God) and his resurrection (coming up from the tomb of death-slavery). The so-called "Lord's Supper" (1 Corinthians 11:20) was a Seder meal led by Yeshua in a Jerusalem home.
This historical nexus between Yeshua and the ancient faith of Israel was never abandoned or lost, at least among his Jewish disciples.
Years afterward, Yeshua's primary emissary to the non-Jews would tell a congregation of Gentile believers that "Messiah our Passover has been sacrificed" (1 Cor 5:7).
Their celebration of Messiah's death involved eating Bread and drinking the memorial "Cup of Blessing" (the third of four traditional cups at a Seder; 1 Cor 10:16). Paul's declaration is unequivocal: "Let us celebrate the Feast" (1 Cor 5:8).
In the early centuries, many followers of Yeshua (both Jew and Gentile) continued to observe Passover as a memorial to him. They did so in spite of opposition from the Church of Rome, which finally put a stop to it in most places after AD 400. Only in the latter decades of the 20th century has Passover's significance and its ancient place of honor been revived among Christians, largely due to the efforts of Jesus-believing, Messianic Jews.
The Passover imagery, with its deeply embedded spiritual principles, links the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua to the ancient Covenant that God made with Abraham.
Yeshua's Last Passover confirmed that Covenant as being "eternal" (Hebrews 13:20). And Passover will be the final meal the Messiah shares one day with all his people, Jew and Gentile — a seder that will include, in his words, "Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets" (Luke 13:28).
Passover begins at sundown in:
2017 — 5777 on Monday, April 10
For Hebrew/Jewish Calendars, see: HebCal Jewish Calendar.
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