Have you ever wondered how it is something as simple as a Passover could have changed so dramatically over the years? 


The modern Jew conducts the event as a dinner service: 


All recline around the SEDER table, because reclining around the table was a sign of a free man. Everything on the table has significance.   On the SEDER plate:

  • Hard boiled egg - symbol of the suffering and oppression in Egypt. Everything else in boiling water becomes soft or disintegrates. But an egg becomes hard, like the Israelites. The more it is boiled, the harder it becomes. An egg also symbolizes New Life.

  • Roasted shankbone of lamb - reminds them there had to be blood sacrificed to save their lives.

  • Bitter herbs - horseradish - reminds them they were servants to slavery.

  • Greens - parsley, celery - symbol of coming of Spring which brings hope.

  • Salt water - reminds them of the tears they cried in Egypt.

  • Haroset - nut, apple, cinnamon, wine mixture which has the appearance of straw in remembrance of the mortar used to build the Treasure Cities for Pharaoh. It is symbolic of the hope of freedom that enabled their ancestors to withstand the bitterness of slavery.

  • Matzah - the unleavened bread that reminds them of the haste with which they left Egypt.

After the drinking of wine and washing of the hands the greens are dipped into the salt water and eaten.


They even provide an empty chair and complete place setting for Elijah, whom they believe may show up.  Mat 11:14


It’s a stark contrast to Passover instructions the Lord gave:
Exd 12:4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take [it] according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.  Exd 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats:
Exd 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening
Exd 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.  
Exd 12:8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with bitter [herbs] they shall eat it.  Exd 12:9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast [with] fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
Exd 12:10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
Exd 12:11 And thus shall ye eat it; [with] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it [is] the LORD'S Passover
Exd 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I [am] the LORD.
Exd 12:13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye [are]: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy [you], when I smite the land of Egypt.
Exd 12:14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

This is exactly the manner in which Christ fulfilled the first two Passovers in his public ministry. Jesus ate in haste while standing, shoes on his feet, staff in hand. 

Num 9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.

In the final Passover, the picture we have is He and his apostles are reclining. 
(2)  Jhn 13:23 

The public ministry of Jesus included three Passovers. We discern, from his age twelve experience in the temple, he was present at every passover during his lifetime, and suggest the majority of them took place in Jerusalem.  Historians count the number of New Testament Passovers recorded (3) to give us the length of the Lord's public ministry.

At the final Passover, Christ changed the ordinance.  The details record how He instituted the Lord’s Supper.  The first Passover is well known, but let’s consider it side by side with the last. 

The blood from the lamb was to be used to strike – not lightly or gently paint – the side posts and lintel.  The striking was not only symbolic, but pointed to the sprinkling on the altar that would soon become part of the law. It would not be struck on the threshold or door jamb.  The Jews were to pass through the blood and under the blood, but no one is to trample the blood of the lamb underfoot.
Instructions were given for how to roast the lamb.  The head with the legs.  And with the purtenance: the heart, liver, lungs and internal organs.  The manner in which the lamb is to be roasted will require two skewers
(1) or rods to hold the lamb.  The first, with the lower legs secured, running lengthways from the back of the neck down.  Another is threaded to hold the shoulder blades open exposing the internal organs. The spit forms the shape of a simple cross, and is suspended directly over the fire.
The eating of the feast was to be as described, not just on the inaugural night, but forever. From the night the Lord visited death upon the firstborn of all of Egypt, until the time of Christ, participants were to stand, staff in hand, shoes on.  Jesus knew and did so when he participated in the Passover the first two times with his disciples.
(3) (4) We understand Christ was the one who gave the law instructions and He alone could change the ordinance which he said was “for ever.”  Ex 12:14.  The ordinance ends when the lawgiver fulfills it or gives us something better.  As our complete Passover, Christ did both.
At the final Passover, the number of participants is greater than the natural eye will count.   This is an exclusive meal, and this time, Christ and his disciples will not eat it with their feet shod, staff in hand or in haste.  In the final Passover, John suggests Jesus and the apostles are reclining.   Jhn 13:23   (2)   Later, the shoes are removed in a dramatic gesture. (5)   

Now, the Son of man eats the Passover as our representative, the one who will take our place before the justice of God.  Also at this table sits the Destroyer, who passed over the Israelites in Egypt.  The Lawgiver, the Great “I AM.”  Who else?  Our high priest and the only one qualified to offer the Passover lamb, and of course, the Lamb himself.

Careful students of scripture will note this celebration occurs hours earlier than the congregation of  Israel will mark it, but be sure of this:  the lamb will be prepared at the proper time.  Luk 22:15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:

As the type requires, Christ, the lamb without spot or blemish is separated from the others in the Garden when Judas betrays Him. 
Exd 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats:

He is examined in the Court to see if He is worthy, and like a lamb, is silent, until he is commanded by an oath to declare whether He is the Christ – the son of God.  Mat 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.
Mat 26:65  Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
Next, the lamb’s outer skin is taken off in preparation for the roasting to come. 
Jhn 19:1   Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged [him].
Psa 129:3   The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows.

At about nine o’clock, or the third hour of the day, the High Priest stands upon the large altar inside the temple, preparing the morning sacrifice upon the continual fires.
Num 28:4 The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even;
After His fleece is removed, the true Passover lamb, his first act as high priest, offers himself to God.  Israel’s natural high priest is no longer, as he had invalidated his priesthood and inaugurated that of the Lamb.
Lev 21:10 And [he that is] the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;
Exd 12:46  In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.
Jhn 19:33  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

The Passover lamb was truly roasted on the cruel cross.  On this day, he was the law giver and fulfiller, the destroyer of sin, death and hell, the perfect lamb sacrifice, our substitute and our High Priest, making offering of himself to God.
Exd 12:6  And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
At the time of the evening sacrifice, (the 9th hour) the now decommissioned priest is again on the altar, which was more than two stories in height.  As he prepares the Passover lamb for the congregation of Israel, the timing of the sacrifice is postponed by the thick darkness, but as light returns to the world, he can possibly view in the distance the true Lamb in front of Him, on Golgotha’s hill, consumed and gone.  The earth quakes, and behind him the veil covering the Most Holy Place rends in twain, from top to bottom.  No mention is made of the fire on the altars, but as Christ has now become our continuing fire, perhaps the quake and events of the afternoon caused them to cease.
We would like to think the blood of Christ was so powerful it could save everyone in the whole world, even though it was applied only to the elect.  But it wasn’t.  The scriptures tell us the lamb was consumed – there is nothing left to offer to others.  When folks come begging us to accept Christ and be saved, perhaps we should ask them where they are obtaining the lamb?  The lamb is only partaken by those who have been circumcised without hands.  Christ completed the Passover in every way imaginable.  When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, it is this complete lamb and his suffering we should consider. He is our Passover.
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Notes:  (1) History says the spit is made of the wood of pomegranate.  Some suggest the lengthwise spit began in the lamb’s mouth to hold the position of the head.
(2) The custom of eating the Seder [Passover] meal in a reclining position is of Persian origin and symbolizes freedom and independence. Greek and Roman patricians also followed this practice, and Jews who lived in their midst adopted it as a meaningful expression of their desire to lead a free, un-harried existence. The Mishna (Pesachim 10:1) requires that even the poorest person in Israel must not eat on the first night of Passover unless he reclines.
(3) Regarding the method of observing Passovers after Egypt:
Exd 12:23  For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite [you].
Exd 12:24  And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
Exd 12:25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.

(4) Num 9:1  And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,   Num 9:2 Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.  Num 9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. Num 9:4  And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.
(5) Removing the shoe signifies the need for redemption.  See the case of Moab and Ruth, as well as the action in Jos 5:15   And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy. And Joshua did so.  (Representing the redeeming of the land that was about to take place.)  Note also the importance of the foot-washing – no one did or could remove the shoes of Christ as He needs no redemption.  John recognized he was not worthy to “loosen the latchet.”
Six hundred thousand men, plus women and children, under heavy forced labor left Egypt, all of them in good traveling health. The scriptures tell us in Psalm 105:37 He brought them forth also with silver and gold: and [there was] not one feeble [person] among their tribes.