Presentation April 13, 2014: Jesus in the Passover Meal

Posted in Sermons
[Jews for Jesus]
  • Presenter: Jews for Jesus
  • Date: April 13, 2014
  • Location: Congregación León de Judá, Boston MA

It's my honor to introduce those that are visiting and gonna sharing with us today as they bring a table with lots of implements up here, so I trust it, no problem there. We have two very special people from a group called Jews for Jesus, these are people who are jewish, who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and they have come to understand the meaning, the prophetic meaning about Jesus and the new covenant in so many of the practices of the jewish people today that is founded from the Old Testament.

And today they are going to be teaching us about the seder meal. They are going to be walking us through a seder meal today which is the meal of the jewish people celebrating the passover when they were delivered from Egypt, and they had that meal when they killed the passover lamb, and God rescued them from slavery. So I'd like to introduce Obed and Viminy, come forward and we welcome them in the Name of Jesus.

Obed: Thank you. Well, shalom! ah, very good. We are gonna speak in English, it's better. But shalom is hello, it can also mean goodbye but we are not prepared to leave just yet, and it means peace, right? amen. So we wanna thank you so, so much, really, Pastor Roberto and all the other Pastors, and all of you really, thank you so, so much for having us and for standing with us.

And it's really a blessing for us to be here with you today, and today we are going to share with you a presentation which is called: Christ in the passover. Now if you were to ask some jewish boys or girls who the hero Passover is, after giving credit to the Lord they will surely tell you: Moses, right? And that is true, but it's not the whole truth.

You see, if you were to ask some jewish boys and girls who know the Messiah that same question, who is the hero Passover? and they might tell you: Jesus, and perhaps you will wonder: what does Jesus have to do with the Passover?

Passover is jewish! well so is Jesus. And not only He would celebrate the Passover, every year it became humongous on the Earth, but I believe He is clearly pictured in all the symbols of the Passover and in the story of Passover itself. The message of Passover is a message of redemption, and the story of Passover is the story of our liberation from bondage.

So today as we explain this tradition of Passover setting, I hope you will see more than just an explanation of some commemorative meal, but I hope you will view it as we view it, as an objective lesson of the life and mission of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

So Viminy is going to read for us some Exodus chapter 12 and we will see where it all actually began. Now just to remind you that israelites are in Egypt, they are enslaved to pharaoh, and when they finally suffered enough they cry out to God: please get us out of this place, and I'm sure you are all familiar with the story: God hears the call, hears the cry, and He sends Moses and Aaron to pharaoh to tell him: let my people go, right? and pharaoh refuses refuses to do it and God sends a plague on the egyptian.

And we've been through the plagues so far until they point where we are going to read, and a very important point to notice here, that none of these plagues affected Israel in any way, just because they were israelites. They did not have to believe in anything, they did not have to do anything, just because of who they were they were not touched.

Now this tenth plague which we are about to encounter now is about to be a totally different kind of plague, for this one is not enough to just be an israelite; this one requires an active step of faith, active step of obedience, and here God instructs Moses and Aaron to instruct Israel what they need to do in order to avoid that plague. And He tells them: each household needs to take a lamb, and now we will start reading in verse 5 from chapter 12 in Exodus.

Viminy: "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats; And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month, and the whole assembly of the Congregation of Israel should kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two-door post of the houses as on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast it with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Verse 11: "And thus shall you eat it; with the belt on your waist, your sand shoes on your feet, and your staff on your hand; so you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's passover."

"For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, it will strike 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."

"Now the blood shall be a sign in the houses where you 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 strike the land of Egypt."

"So this day should be to you a memorial, and you should keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; you should keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you should eat unleavened bread; on the first day you should remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel."

The first night of passover begins a seven day holiday called the feast of unleavened bread, and during that time we eat nothing that unleavened things. Why no leavening? well throughout Scripture you see leaven used frequently used as a symbol of sin, and often it just took a small portion of leaven to ferment an entire portion of dough. And just as leaven caused dough to become puffed up, just a sin causes us to become puffed up in our own eyes.

So that's why we do this tea-time eating no leaven as a way of saying: we want to break that daily-sin cycle in our own lives. So in some orthodox jewish homes, for up to six weeks prior to the passover, the house undergoes a complete spring cleaning. We remove all of those tasty things like: cakes, cookies, breads, cereals, donkey donuts (people laugh). We remove anything that has any leaven in it and somehow, this is usually the workout of the women in the house.

But do you remember in the Book of Luke? it says that Jesus sent two men to go and prepare the passover. Now perhaps Jesus sent two men because in Judaea, it's the men who are standing before God, not only when it comes to prayer but when it comes to ceremony of preparation as well. So if you think about that, doesn't that mean that men should be doing the cleaning as well? (people laugh)

Pastor Obed: amen! but don't worry men, we have an interesting way to solve this, we have come with a terrific solution to that problem. Now that the house is spotless because the women spent the last six weeks cleaning and removing every aspect of leaven; well, almost every aspect that is, you see here us taking a few crumbs, and she has hidden them somewhere in the house, and it's up to the men to find them.

So the night before the passover, the men, we come home and take some of the strange looking cleaning tools, including napkin, a spoon, and a feather. Some very heavy-duty cleaning, isn't it? And it goes on what is called the search for leaving.

Now where could those crumbs be? anywhere! down the basement, up in the attic, behind the refrigerator, but fortunately she has been good enough to hide them exactly where she hid them the year before, and the year before that, and before that.

Vinimy: So finally the husband does indeed always discover these crumbs. And with a very steady hand, he sweeps the crumbs into the spoon with the feather. Now these crumbs represent sin, so the man is not allowed to touch them, and so he carefully wraps them with the napkin, and in some traditions he takes them down to a large bone fire in the core yard of the synagogue. All the men of the Congregation are gathered there and each throws the napkin and feather into the flames, and then he returns home and proclaims: now I have purged my home of all leaven.

Oben: And just to be safe I would add that all men who threw the leaven have removed all the sin involved, and it is now null and void, amen. But just in case I forgot anything, consider it null and void.

Well, the house has been cleansed, and the home is now ready for the pass of the celebration and it is a celebration. But if you remember in that passage we just read, my ancestors were instructed to eat that first passover meal with their loins girded, sandals on their feet, and staff in hand, and ready to go. But today, today we can relax and actually lay down on pillows.

You see: an ancient meal in ancient society, only the free could reclaim a meal, but tonight we can relax, today we can relax and we can lay down on pillows, today if you feel like slouching on your chair it's okay.

Vinimy: On passover the head of the house could put on special ceremony garments. He wears a white robe called a kittel, because in jewish tradition white is a color of royalty. Jewish men often cover their head as a sign of respect before God, but that night instead of using the yamaka or school cap, the head of the house uses something a little bit more elaborated. He is dressed in a royal robe and with symbol of a crown because tonight, the head of the house is a king.

So this is not a chef, this is a king, ok? (people laugh). And as a king he guides his family through the traditional passover seder. Seder is a hebrew word which means order, because the passover celebration follows a very specific order of service, and that order is required here in this book called the Haggadah which means: the telling.

Well we are ready to start the service, and this begins with the lighting of the candles, which is usually the duty and the honor of the woman of the house. After lighting the candles, she recites a traditional hebrew blessing which goes something like this:

"Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-Olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik neir shel (Shabbat v'shel), amen"

(You are Blessed, O God, Spirit of the World, who makes us holy with mitzvot and commands us to kindle the light of (Shabbat and of) the festival day).

Vinimy: I think it's fitting that a woman will kindle these lights for it reminds us that the Messiah, the light of the world, will come not from the seed of men, but from the seed of women, and by the Will of God. As the prophet Isaiah foretold: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and birth a Son. And she shall call His Name: Emmanuel; God with us." A light to light the gentiles and glory of His people, Israel.

The Passover isn't just a meal, it's more like a banquet and it isn't just a service, it's really more like an elaborated ceremony. And while a meal service might take an hour or two, the Passover celebration usually takes about four hours to take on this little book, but don't worry, we will sum it up for you, okay? (laughs).

Now, the first cup is called the Kiddush, which means Cup or Cup of Santification, the Cup of Plagues and the Cup of Redemption which is actually the focal point of the entire evening. And then we come to the cup of Hallel or the Cup of Praise.

But in this first cup, the Cup of Santification, the head of the house offers a blessing for all the rest of the ceremony to follow. Holding the Kiddush cup he raises it and thanks God almighty, creator of the fruit of the vine.

"Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha-Olam, bore p'ri hagahafen, amen"

(Blessed art Thou Lord our God, King of the universe who brings forth fruit from the vine.)

The service has begun. And the youngest person present will come forward and ask the meaning of the Passover. There are four traditional questions from the Haggadah, and the first one goes like this:

Ma nishtana ha-laila ha-zeh mi-kol ha-lelot?

Which is: why is this different from all of the nights? and those of us who know the story of Passover are obliged to respond. And we say: this is because of all the Lord did for me, when He broke me out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, when He redeemed me with a mighty hand and a stretched arm. You see, redemption is the very heart of Passover.

Vinimy: The Passover imparts more than God's message of redemption, it imparts God's means of redemption, through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. Our jewish ancestors were instructed to take a spotless lamb and roast it whole without breaking any of it's bones, and to apply it's blood to the door post of their homes, to the top of the door post, the lintel and to the side posts.

Now, because of their obedience to God's command and because of their faith in God's provision, they were spared of the ravages of the ten plagues that fell upon the land of Egypt. But when the Lord saw the blood on their doors, the angel of death passed over and that's where we get the name Passover.

In hebrew, Pésaj, can you say Pésaj with me? very good. This is a holiday which commemorates the time when death passed over the houses of Israel, because of the blood, the blood of the lamb, the passover lamb. What a mighty act of redemption. But what a picture of even greater redemption, the sacrifice of another passover lamb: our Messiah, Jesus.

For just as none of the bones of those first lambs were broken, so none of Jesus' bones were broken, remember? and just as my ancestors had to apply faith to the blood of the lamb to put it on the upper posts and lintels, so each one of us must apply faith in the blood of the Messiah to our door post.

Vinimy: The child asks another question. Why in this night do we eat only unleavened bread? We explain to the children that our jewish ancestors, in their haste out of Egypt, had to take the bread with them while it was still flat. One of the items found on the passover table is this, called the Matzah Tosh, inside it are three layers of unleavened bread, each one separated from one another by the Matzah Tosh.

The head of the house takes out the middle matzah, he recites a special blessing and breaks it in two, he sets one half aside and gives the other half a special name, he calls it: the afikomen. It's not a hebrew word by the way, it's a greek word which either means what came or what comes. That's precisely what happens, the afikomen isn't eaten yet, it comes later. For now it's wrapped up in a white linen cloth and hidden from view. It's buried and no one in the table knows where afikomen is hidden, but later all the children look for it and they have to find it or the service will not be concluded.

The child asks two more questions. In this night, why do we eat only bitter herbs? And on this night, why is it on all other nights we do not dip even once, but on this night we dip twice? So let me explain by using this thing here; this is a seder plate and despite it's appearance, I know some of you might be thinking but it's not used for edible eggs. A symbolic piece of food for the passover services, placed into each one of these compartments.

The first item on the seder plate is this one called Karpas or greens, we normally use parsley or celery, but before we eat it we will dip it in salt water. And so by dipping, the salt represents tears. So by dipping we are reminded that life without redemption is life in tears, and then we will eat some of that.

The next item on the seder plate is Chazeret. We normally use onion or horseradish, and this symbol reminds us that the root of life is bitter.

Now this is the Maror. Freshly grounded horseradish. Now we are supposed to talk about this but we will take some horseradish, ok? Now do you know what will happen if we eat a full spoon of horseradish? you will cry, right? there's no option, you go directly into a sinusitis. Maror always wins.

Now like the Chazeret, like the onion, the Maror brings to our mind how bitter life is without redemption. So we are actually supposed to cry a little bit, so we can empathize with our ancestors in Egypt.

Vinimy: By way of contrast we have the Charoset which represents the mortar that our jewish ancestors used to build for pharaoh

Obed: chopped apple

Vinimy: it's made out of chopped apples, grated apples, cinnamon, nuts, honey, wine and it tastes sweet and delicious. Now perhaps you are wondering: why would a sweet mixture like this be used to represent bitter toil? But we explain: even the most bitter of labor, and even the most challenging of our trials is sweetened or buffered with the promise of redemption.

This is called a Chagigah which was the name of a special temple sacrifice in Jerusalen we shared, we roast the egg and it turns it brown. Now the Chagigah is a token of grief to jewish people, grief over the destruction of the temple in Jerusalen. The head of the house breaks it open, slices it, gives it to each person at the table, but before it is eaten it is dipped into salt water which represents tears. So the Chagigah is a symbol of grief but it's also a symbol of new life.

Now, the last item on the seder plate, perhaps the strangest one of all is this one called the Z'roa. This is the shank bone of a lamb. The Passover is also sometimes known as the Feast of the Passover Lamb, but in most jewish homes at Passover, roasted lamb is not served. You see why? you see, the only lambs that used to be eaten in the Passover were the sacrifices. But in 70 A.D the temple in Jerusalen was destroyed and so was the altar where sacrifices were made. So from that time, to this day, no sacrifices have been made. Instead the egg and the shank will remind us of the sacrifices that are no longer offered.

Now, the presents of these two elements, the egg and the shank bone raises an interesting question. With no temple, no altar, and no sacrifice, how is it possible to atone for our sins? For the law of Moses states so clearly: "I have given it to you in the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood, the reason of the life, that makes atonement."

Now most people jewish and gentile will say: maybe that was important two thousand years ago but it doesn't have anything to do with my life today, but doesn't it? Why then does the Chagigah instruct us to take the store of Passover so personally? Almost as if each one of us were individually being brought out of Egypt.

I think we are supposed to take the story of Passover personally because each one of us needs to be personally redeemed. But without these temple sacrifices, how might this redemption even be possible?

Well, once nearly two thousand years ago, there lived a jewish man by the name of Yôḥānān, and you might know him better as John, John the Baptist. And one day while baptizing people in the river Jordan, he gazed upon another jewish man, his cousin, a man with the name of Jeshua, and you might know him better as Jesus. And John declared: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world." That's how, redemption. But not redemption through blood of lambs, redemption through the blood of the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, our Messiah Jesus, amen.

We now come to the second cup, the cup of plagues and doing this cup we will be reminded of all the plagues that were thrown upon the egyptians, and we praise God that those plagues did not touch us. But today I can praise God not only because death passed over my ancestors' homes, and not only because we have been redeemed out of bondage to pharaoh, but I've been redeemed from even greater bondage through my faith in the Messiah of Israel, the Messiah Jesus. Through Him each one of us may pass over from death to life, amen?

Well, at this point of the seder is where we have great and elaborated meal and since we are going to skip that little detail of the service, we'd like to take a few minutes and share with you a little bit about the Ministry of Jews for Jesus. And before we do that I'd like to invite you to participate with me in an old, old tradition of Jews for Jesus, it's called the tearing of the cards. All of you receive one of those or perhaps one per house, and if you did not get you can catch up with us later.

So open it to the last flap, and when we count 1, 2, 3 we will tear those cards together, ok? Ready: Eh-chott - Sh-tie-yim - Sha-losh, very good. Now the last portion of the card is for you to remember what you are doing here today, you see some pictures and some words for some songs and blessings, but also to remind you to pray for us.

Vinimy: If you give us your name and address we will mail you our free newsletter, but especially important is your email. We are now serving the Lord in Israel so email is more efficient, and if you want to write one please do it neatly. We would so appreciate your prayers because right now we are in a transition, we have been serving for four years in the Tel-aviv area and since Obed led and reached out in November, we have been finding a desperate hunger to know Jesus in the south. So in two weeks we are moving from Tel-aviv to the south where there's been the greatest opposition to the Gospel. People have not been only physically attacked but one Pastor lost his leasen of building and could not find another place to lease because of the pressure of the religious and it met in the forest all of last year.

So we'd like to share with you, show you a short clip about one of those campaigns, what it means when you go out on the street and from early morning to late night, interacting with people on the street sharing the Gospel with them.

(clip starts)
(clip ends, people applaud)

Thank you, so, again to do that campaign alone in two weeks, we got the contacts of more than 800 israelites. I wanna give you only one example, a young man responded to one of our ads, I called him and he was so open and so curious, but he has only one question that really bothered him: if we commited the sin, why did Jesus have to die for us?

And so I explained to him about the substitution of death by Christ and about the sacrificial system, and then it was like a light had been lit for him, because this young man was abused for years and years by his dad, and even when his younger siblings would get in trouble with his dad, he would jump in and take the blame, say: no, I did it, just so he would not beat his siblings but beat him instead; so he could really relate to what Jesus had done for us. And then very shortly after he prayed to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

So can you really pray for us, for as we continue to follow up on all those 800 people? We really appreciate it. So if God has really put in your hearts to stand for us financially, aside from praying for us we would really appreciate us, that's how we live, by faith, by support of people, brothers and sisters like yourself that really want to stand with us. So everything you will give now will go directly to the work of my wife and I, but we ask you that you don't give to us instead of giving your tithe, which is important to give to your Church, and if you are a first time visitor today and you don't believe in Jesus, you know, God wants your heart more than your money, right?

Again, thank you so much, we really, really appreciate your gifts and your support, and your standing with us in your prayers. I really hope you had enough to eat and we continue the seder.

Vinimy: After the meal it would now be time for the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. This is actually the focal point of the entire ceremony, but the ceremony can't proceed just yet because something is missing! Do you remember that something was broken, buried and now needs to be brought back? do you remember what it's called? afikomen! All the children search for the afikomen. And once it's found it's returned to the head of the house and it's broken again. Each person in the table receives a piece of it the size of an olive, and this piece of afikomen is taken with the Cup of Redemption, does this look familiar?

This is the very origin of our service. And not only that, but where else can we find a clear picture of our Messiah Jesus, and in His costume concerning the afikomen? The afikomen is broken, wrapped in white linen, buried and brought back, and the matzah itself is unleavened, and that speaks of the sinless nature of our Messiah Jesus.

It even has stripes on it and the Bible says: "By His stripes we were healed." And our rabbi set down very specific regulations concerning the preparation of matzah and that it should be considered suitable for use. One of these is that the matzah must be pierced. Jesus was pierced, God speaking through the prophet Zachariah said: "They should look upon Me whom they have pierced."

Obed: And I can see a Messiah symbolically not only in the afikomen, but also in this pouch containing the three layers of matzahs. You see, there are a few disagreements among rabbies about the meaning of this strange pouch. It's three-in-one. You see, some teach us that the maztah represent the three patriarchs of Israel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but why is it that maztah are broken, buried, then brought back?

Others would tell us that the matzah represents the three divisions of worship in the ancient Kingdom, the priests, the levits and the people of Israel. Again, one question must be asked: why is it that the middle maztah broken, buried then brought back?

And in the jewish community today the origin of that custom has been lost, and that's why there are so many competing explanations. But there's one more explanation which has it's origin in the first century. You see, the three layers here form a unity, a tri-unity, and a word in hebrew which might mean such unity is the word: 'Ehad, and it brings to my mind the Word of God given to Moses when He declared: "Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu Adonai echad!" "Hear oh Israel: the Lord, our God, the Lord is one."

And on Passover the head of the house removes the middle layer out of this ehad, out of this unity, it becomes visible while the other two remain out of view. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh, hallelujah.

Well, we jews who know the Messiah, know also that the unity of the Matzah Tash bears witness of the unity of one God, revealed to us in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and why is the middle maztah tash broken, buried and then brought back? because Jesus was broken, buried and then brought back. Our Messiah Jesus said: "This is My Body broken for you, and you, and all of us. Do this in rememberance of Me."

Vinimy: Now regarding the Cup of Redemption, the color of wine at Passover is usually red, and the rabbi said that it reminds us of the blood of those first Passover lambs that were sacrificed in order to redeem the israelites out of bondage and slavery to pharaoh. But in the same way, the blood of another Passover Lamb, our Messiah Jesus was sacrificed in order to redeem us out of bondage and slavery to sin. So it was concerning the Cup of Redemption which is a cup taken after dinner that our Messiah Jesus said: "This cup is a new covenant in My blood."

He spoke of the covenant promised to us by God through the prophet Jeremiah who declared: "Behold, days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judaea, and after those days I will put my law within them and in their hearts I will heart, and I will be the God and they will be My people." So the broken piece of afikomen and the Cup of Redemption are taken together in memory of the Passover lamb, and our Passover Lamb is Jesus. Amen, amen.

We have now come to the fourth cup, the Cup of Hallel, the Cup of Praise. Hallel means praise and this is the Cup of Praise, and during this cup we sing all kinds of wonderful praise songs to God and again, we have a wonderful time of praise and worship.

This one last cup which we haven't told you about, this one: the Cup of Elijah. No one drinks from that cup, and if you were to enter a jewish home during the Passover celebration, you'd see something quite strange: a whole place setting with a full cup of wine all untouched, all reserved for the prophet Elijah; why?, why this longing for Elijah?

Well, it is recorded in the Book of Malachi that the Messiah, before His Coming would be preceded by Elijah, and so each year, usually at the end of the service, a child will run to the door, open it wide and hoping maybe this year the prophet will finally accept invitation announcing the Coming of the Messiah. And we sing one of the oldest jewish tunes known today:

Which means:

Elijah the prophet
Elijah the Tishbite
Elijah the Giladite

Please come soon (in our days) come to us,
and bring with you the Messiah, the son of David.

So as you can see, our people still celebrate this Passover celeb today, actually it's tomorrow, tomorrow is Passover, they aren't only commemorating some past event but also looking forward to a future event, and for the return of Elijah. But I know and I hope you know too that Elijah has come. Remember when Jesus spoke of the prophet John, He said: "If you care to accept it, it's Elijah who has come." And so Elijah, the prophet of the Messiah has come and so has the Messiah Himself, Jesus. The Savior of the jewish and not jewish, amen?

Again, it's really a blessing for us to share this with you today, and I hope you all come to know that the promise made, the Lamb of God who took upon himself the penalty that we also deserve, amen? And I hope you will see this Passover Seder as part of your own heritage. Again, thank you so, so much.

Pastor Roberto: Let's give him a big hand (applauses). What a blessing, maybe we have extended ourselves a bit, but it's worth it a hundred times. Praise the Lord. This enriches us so much. Oh Father: we do not wanna hasten in leaving this place without thanking You for this teaching that we have received. Bless it in our hearts Father, we treasure such prophetic illumination as we have received today, we bless our brother and sister, we bless Jews for Jesus that are doing extraordinary sacrificial work. Now bless this teaching in our hearts, and as we leave this place, may the Messiah, Jesus Christ come and go with us as well. God's people say: amen, God bless you and greet each other. Praise the Lord, hallelujah.

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