Discovering the Biblical revelation of Christ in the Passover illuminates the unity of the Scriptures and unveils the historical meaning of the Lord's Supper in an unparalleled way. Historically, the Passover has been a family festival conducted in the home. It is a time of learning and worship designed for the entire family. However, after many years of teaching experience on this ancient celebration and its fulfillment in Christ, we have developed teaching sessions that are adaptable to a variety of group sizes, age ranges, and time constraints.
Although particularly appropriate during and around Holy Week, Turning Hearts Ministries offers teaching on the significance of Passover at any time during the year.
Some Thoughts on the Purpose and Value for Christians Learning about Passover
One of Jesus’ last acts before His death was the celebration of Passover. (Luke 22:15) It was important enough to Him that, with only hours left before He gave His life on our behalf, He participated in this oldest of Jewish festivals. If for no other reason, we ought to desire to know about what was so important to our Lord.
But there are other reasons. Jesus led the Seder. It was there in the context of the historical Passover that our Savior revealed to His disciples – and to us – the mystery of God’s plan of redemption. It was there that He unveiled the full meaning of this familiar Jewish memorial in light of what was about to happen to Him and instituted its commemoration in His Church until He comes.
Since that Last Supper two thousand years ago, much misunderstanding has developed and become entrenched in the Church concerning aspects of that meal which we re-enact as the Lord’s Supper. Teachings such as transubstantiation, consubstantiation, and the “real presence” versus “memorial” argument testify to our difficulties in fully comprehending the meaning of the Passover symbols we utilize in our Communion services. When Jesus said, “This is My body” and “This is My blood”, He was making reference to them within the context of the Passover Seder and its deeper meaning and message. Since most Christians know little or nothing of the Passover celebration, it is little wonder that we have such struggles in understanding the “elements” which we have generally failed to consider in their original context.
God has often chosen to communicate to His people through symbols. Using symbols, He provokes our memories and illustrates spiritual truths. The sacrificial system, the bronze serpent, stones of remembrance, and the Passover celebration are all good examples, but the Passover is a unique, multi-sensory experience. It is commonly known that taste and smell are strong evokers of memory. Through the yearly observance of Passover, the people of God were given the opportunity to experience the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of God’s deliverance again and again in a very powerful way.
At the Last (Passover) Supper, Jesus led this ancient ritual meal in its proper context as a revelation of Himself, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” and He instructed His disciples to “Do this in remembrance” of Him. In the Seder we hear, see, taste, and feel the truth of God’s love and the Gospel of grace in a singular way. We, too, have the opportunity to experience the bitterness of slavery to sin and the sweetness of God’s gracious deliverance through Christ our Savior through the powerful symbols that God Himself ordained in the time of Moses – symbols that always have pointed to Jesus, the Messiah.
In the Passover Seder, the believer will come to see Christ in a new and deeper way. He will understand the unity of the Scriptures as he never did before. He will be introduced to an event that will forever transform his future participation in the Lord’s Supper. Finally, he will share in a worship experience that our Lord is waiting to complete with us in Glory (Matthew 26:29). It is something not to be missed.
Hosting a Passover Seder Presentation
Planning and Preparing for a Passover Seder
In order to plan effectively, it is important to determine the number of participants ahead of time. This will be necessary to know how many tables and chairs and place settings will be needed, as well as how many Seder programs must be copied and bound (stapled).
If, in addition to the symbolic elements, an entire meal is to be served, plans for the meal must be done well ahead of time. “Potluck” is probably the easiest, but must be well organized in order to provide a balance of foods and for enough food to be prepared. If desired, kosher recipes may be easily obtained on the internet from any of the numerous sites that deal with Passover cooking, such as www.koshercooking.com.
Symbolic foods that will be needed are as follows:
- Matzah (Manischewitz Unsalted Matzos are available in most grocery stores)
- Parsley – bundles of fresh parsley may be found in any grocery produce section
- Kosher salt (Morton Coarse Kosher Salt is available in most grocery stores)
- Horseradish (Silver Spring Prepared or Silver Spring Fresh Ground Horseradish is available in most grocery stores – kept refrigerated)
- Haroseth (mixture of apples, cinnamon, grape juice, nuts) – recipe below
- Grape juice (Welch’s 100% Concord Grape Juice or Kedem Concord Grape Juice is available in most grocery stores)
[An individual Seder plate will require 3 or 4 pieces of matzah (2” x 2”); a sprig of parsley; a small spoonful of horseradish; and a large spoonful of haroseth mixture.]
The following are check lists for the preparation of the tables and settings:
For each table:
- White table covering (paper, plastic, cloth)
- Candlesticks, white candles, and matches
- One white, cloth napkin for afikomen (a special piece of matzah)
- A small bowl of salt water (kosher salt)
- A pitcher of water, large bowl, and white towel (or linen napkin) for ceremonial hand-washing
- A cruet (or something like it) with grape juice; more than one may be used per table to expedite serving
- An extra seat and place setting for Elijah (not necessary if capacity doesn’t allow)
For each participant:
- A place setting (white dishes if possible) and white napkin
- A goblet (and a drinking glass if desired)
- A Seder plate with matsah, haroseth, horseradish, and parsley
- A Seder Haggadah (program)
- A small pillow or cushion; cushioned chairs are sufficient
A Simple Recipe for Haroseth
8 apples (try different kinds for color)
½ cup of walnuts
3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
grated rind of ½ lemon
4 tablespoons of red grape juice
Wash apples and cut them into quarters, removing the core. Put apples and walnuts into food processor and chop until apples and walnuts are about the size of the chunks in chunky peanut butter. Add the remaining ingredients and stir them all together. Makes about 3 to five cups, depending on the size of the apples. May be made the day before use. Keep refrigerated.
[An adaptation of this recipe using three five-pound bags of apples, three small bags of walnut pieces, a container of ground cinnamon, some sugar, lemon rind, and grape juice has been used to serve one hundred fifty plates.]
Note: A separate preparation without walnuts may be made in consideration of any participants who have allergies to nuts.
Seder Haggadah (Program)
It will be necessary to prepare the Seder Haggadah ahead of time. The program must be copied correctly, that is, in order. The pages have been numbered to make this as simple as possible. A colored paper may be chosen for the cover, or it may be left white in keeping with the theme of purity. A heavier weight paper for the cover may be used. Participants are welcome to keep their programs when the Seder is over, and a heavier weight cover will hold up better. It will be necessary to staple the booklet together, so a booklet stapler will be needed.