(Based on Rev. Kevin Parviz’s 2000 Lenten Series, published by Concordia Pulpit Resources)
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Exodus 12:1 Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2
“This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month
of the year to you. 3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the
tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to
their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 Now if the household is
too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take
one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man
should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished
male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall
keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of
the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7 Moreover, they shall take
some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses
in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire,
and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of
it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and
its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until
morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire. 11
Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your
feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s
Passover. 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will
strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and
against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The
blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the
blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I
strike the land of Egypt. 14 ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you
shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to
celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. (NASB)
Of the six Old Testament feasts we have taken up this Lenten Season, the
two most potent and clearly visible in regard to the person and work of Jesus
Christ are the Feasts of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Pesach. The
former, Atonement is the feast wherein the sin offering and the scapegoat are
offered up as a blood payment for the sins of God’s people. Passover is the feast
wherein the lamb is offered up in the stead of God’s people as the means of their
salvation. By shedding the blood of the Passover Lamb, the people are saved from
death. These two feasts are two sides of the same coin, but they are also different.
Passover was and continues to be the defining event in Jewish history and
life. As with all the other feasts, Passover, when probably understood is all about
the Lord God’s faithfulness in forgiving, protecting, and preserving the His
adopted people, the Hebrew people for the sake of God’s Messiah/Christ.
Passover commemorates the work of God through the prophet Moses in
delivering the Hebrew people from slavery, oppression, and eventually likely
extinction. You know the basic history. 400 year before Moses, God elevated
Joseph to the second most powerful position in Egypt. In order to save his family
from starvation, Joseph had his family moved to Egypt. There the family grew to a
great multitude. At some point, the Egyptians subjugated the Hebrews among
them to slavery.
The Hebrews themselves did not know much about God. They knew the
oral traditions regarding creation, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. They
knew that there was only one God and worshiped Him. They prayed to the One
God who had adopted them in the promise through father Abraham. They prayed
to Him for freedom for hundreds of years.
Enter Moses an unlikely prophet and deliverer. Moses was a Hebrew raised
as a prince in Egypt, who first became a murder, then became the tool of God to
lead His children out of Egypt.
God had sent Moses to Pharaoh to break Pharaoh’s will so he would release
the Hebrews. Through Moses God sent nine plagues. Pharaoh resisted all nine. He
would not let God’s people go. So a tenth plague was sent. Exodus 11:4 “Moses
said, ‘Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of
Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of
the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is
behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.’”
Notice (and this is really important) the judgment, the tenth plague is
against every one in Egypt from the first born of Pharaoh, to the first born of the
lowliest Hebrew slave girl, and even to the first born of the cattle. All have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God. The wages of sins is death. No one gets a
But as is always the case, with God’s Word of judgment, the Lord God
provides a way of salvation for His people. The first time that happened was in
the garden of Eden, then for Cain, Noah, and so on.
The Lord God said to Moses, 3 “Speak to all the congregation of Israel,
saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for
themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household .
. . 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole
assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. 7 Moreover, they
shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of
the houses in which they eat it . . . 12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on
that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man
and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the
Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and
when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to
destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
To put it as clearly and theologically as possible, the people of God were
spared death by the blood of the lamb. Pharaoh’s first born son died, as did all the
first born sons in Egypt, and the first born of the male beasts in Egypt. On the next
day Pharaoh broke. He let the Hebrews go.
And again, God instituted the Feast of Passover so the people would not
forget Who God is, who they are, what God had done for them, and why He did it
in the first place.
God said to Moses, 8 “They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted
with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. . . 11 Now
you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet,
and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s
Passover. . . 14 ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a
feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent
This was the beginning of the Seder. Seder by the way means “order” as in
the Order of Service. It is the start of a liturgy, a rite, and a tradition of worship
services, festivals, and observances.
A major part of the Seder is the HaGaddah, or the telling of the story of the
Exodus. God commanded that certain things be said and done to help re-enforce
and support the telling of the Exodus story. One of the most important elements is
of course the unleaven bread. In Hebrew mitzoh, also called the bread of haste.
Originally the unleaven bread was a reminder that the Israelites had to leave
Egypt at a moments notice, in a hurry, and do so trusting that the God who was
delivering them out of Egypt would also take care of them on their way. In time
the unleaven bread took on another meaning. The unleaven bread came to be a
symbol of purity, food without sin, without yeast.
Bitter roots and horseradish was commanded as a part of the meal to make
their eyes water as a re-enactment of the tears shed by their forefathers during their
400 years in bondage. God commanded that the unleaven bread eaten with this
mixture of bitter roots
The roots and herbs would be ground up and put in a bowl so the bread
could be dipped in the bowl. This is probably the bowl and condiment Jesus was
referring to when He said of Judas “the one who has dipped his hand into the
bowl with Me will betray Me.”
Charoseth is a sweet mixture of nuts, wine, apples, and honey. It has been
added to the tradition of the Seder and represents the mortar used to built
Today parsley is also used in the Seder, but originally a plant called Karpas,
was used in the meal. You know Karpas by a different name, Hyssop. In verse 22
of chapter 12, the Lord God told the Israelites “You shall take a bunch of hyssop
and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is
in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside
the door of his house until morning.”
Hyssop represented life, cleansing, and forgiveness. After King David had
fallen into sin with his neighbor’s wife and effectively murdered his neighbor,
David wrote in Psalm 51:7, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash
me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
Hyssop was the plant used by the solders to deliver sour wine to Jesus on
the cross. In the modern Seder, parsley replaces Hyssop and is dipped into
saltwater to recall the blood that was shed and the death that was spared the
Now as to the table setting. There is a place at the table for everyone who
had been invited, plus one spot called Elijah’s place. This is a vacant spot for the
one that the Jews hoped would come, but has not yet come–the Messiah, the Christ
of God. The table would be set with a plate for the ceremonial foods, wine
globets, linen napkins, and a matzoh tosh.
What’s a matzoh tosh? Glad you asked because it is really interesting. The
Seder meal uses three separate loaves of unleaven bread. The matzoh tosh is a
linen pouch, separated into three layers, into which three sheets of matzah are
During the Seder, the middle layer of matzah is removed from the pouch.
After a blessing it, it is broken in half. One half is set aside and the other half is
given a special name: afikomen. The word is a Greek term which means “that
which comes later.” The afikomen is hidden, buried so to speak, until later in the
ceremony when the children of the house search for it. The service can’t officially
be concluded until the this part of the loaf is found and it is the last the last thing
to be eaten.
Just as there are three loaves, there are three cups used and passed during
the meal. So when on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, Matt. 26:26 “While
they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and
gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ 27 And when He
had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all
St. Paul gives a specific detail in this regard. 1 Cor. 11:25 “In the same way
He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My
blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” Once they were
done eating the last course of the meal, the cup is passed to all the participants.
Three loaves. Three cups and the third cup is called the “cup of redemption.”
Passover was both a history lesson and a worship service. It was the most
important feast of the year.
The only story we have from Jesus’s youth was when He went to Passover
with His family at the age of twelve and spent His time in the temple being taught
and teaching. Luke 2:41 tells us that Jesus’s “parents went to Jerusalem every
year at the Feast of the Passover.” That meant Jesus went to Passover every year
as well. He did not stop doing so after His baptism. He was in the synagogue every
Sabbath. He was in Jerusalem at every Passover. He never stopped attending
church. That’s what so many life long Lutherans are doing in droves these days.
Just about any excuse will do.
On the night in which He as betrayed, Jesus took the Feast of Passover and
He turned it into the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, Holy Communion. The lamb of
the Old Testament was needed no more. No more would it die to save the
Israelites. No longer would it be eaten at the Seder meal.
The New Testament Lamb of God had come and was be slain so that eternal
death would Passover those of us who have been marked by the blood of the
Look at what Jesus does here. He waits till Passover. He places the His
Supper as close in time as possible to His arrest, trial, persecution, and crucifixion.
Therefore, when the time had come Jesus, the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb,
the mediator of a new covenant on Mount Calvary, the once-and-for-all final
sacrifice for sin–offered up His body and blood as the Passover Lamb, the Lamb
that was both the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and the Lamb Whose
blood marks us for salvation. In one act, Jesus pays for our sins and saves us from
John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone
eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for
the life of the world is My flesh.” He is the Bread of Life, the Unleaven Bread,
holy, sinless, uncorrupted by the yeast this world; and Whose body was beaten and
broken, wrapped in linens, buried and hidden in a tomb for that which was to
come later, afikomen.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Lamb of God. He is our cup of
redemption. Christ is our Passover. And the destroyer cannot touch us.
May the peace that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Based on Rev. Kevin Parviz’s 2000 Lenten Series, published by Concordia Pulpit Resources)