The Passover dinner is celebrated by Jewish families all around the world and tells the story of God’s miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery, but in the light of our Messiah Jesus we see many amazing and powerful prophetic signs and foreshadowing. We will start at 6pm and partake of all the elements in the Seder dinner just like Jesus and his disciples partook on the night he was betrayed. Click the button below to download the Online Seder Checklist
PASSOVER SEDER GUIDE
Now this 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. (Exodus 12:14)
7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8, NIV)
God commanded his people to celebrate the Passover “permanently,” a constant reminder of His salvation. It is not only an Old Testament command nor a holiday just for Jews. Even Paul encourages Christians to celebrate it with the updated understanding of Jesus Christ as THE Passover Lamb. Passover is NOT just a Jewish cultural celebration. Passover is ALL ABOUT JESUS. Passover is about SALVATION. Passover is about the BLOOD OF THE LAMB THAT DELIVERS US FROM SIN.
The first Passover took place in Egypt when the Jewish people were in slavery. God told Moses what to have them do. He was very specific and detailed. We read about that first Passover in Exodus 12.
Passover changed the Hebrew Calendar. God said, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12:2)
Notice all the details in the rest of God’s instructions: “On the tenth of the month each family is to take a lamb for themselves according to their fathers’ households. If your family is too small for a whole lamb, share it with your neighbor. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or the goats. And you shall keep it until the 14th day of the month, then all the people of Israel are to kill it at twilight.” (Exodus 12:3-6)
The people were told the exact date they were to take the Lamb into their houses, how old the lamb was to be, that he was to be perfect, and when they were all to kill their lambs. It is no accident that these characteristics perfectly describe Jesus, the Perfect Passover Lamb. We will look at these parallels more closely during the seder.
Several thousand years after that first Passover, Jesus and his disciples still celebrated the feast every year. The most famous instance is what we now call “The Last Supper.” In Luke 22, we read that “8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” 13 … So they prepared the Passover. 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”
By participating in this God-ordained holiday, we are pleasing Him by remembering His awesome work of salvation. Jews everywhere are observing this feast with us this week, as they have for thousands of years. But most do so without understanding the beautiful message of God’s original intentions…the Jesus Christ the Messiah was THE Passover Lamb that God had been pointing to since the days of Exodus. How privileged we are to be able to celebrate with that full knowledge!
Traditionally and Scripturally, Passover is a family celebration. This Haggadah is designed to be
simple and reproducible, in hopes that you might celebrate this God-ordained feast year after
year with friends and family. There are many other versions available at bookstores and online. The
most important thing at Passover is to REMEMBER God’s story of deliverance and redemption,
first of his people Israel from their bondage in Egypt, and then the rest of us from our bondage to
sin. He did this through the Passover Lamb.
What you will need:
Beitzah—roasted egg, to remind us of the daily sacriﬁces needed to atone for sin. It can also represent the destruction of the Temple and the burning of Jerusalem in 70 AD Charoset—a sweet apple and nut mixture, to remind us of the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves in Egypt Karpas—parsley, to remind us of the sweetness of new life given by God. However it is dipped in salt water to remind us of the sad life the Hebrew slaves experienced. Chazeret—romaine lettuce or thin slices of radish. They are one of the elements of “bitter herbs,” and remind us of the bitterness of slavery. Mahroar—“bitter herbs” or horseradish. Similar to the chazeret, they also remind us of the bitterness of slavery. Ma’im Meh-luach—salt water, to remind us of the tears shed by the Hebrew slaves
“For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the ﬁrst day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the ﬁrst day through the seventh must be cut oﬀ from Israel.” Exodus 12:15 One of the traditions (and God-ordained commandments) of Passover is to remove all leaven from the home, as leaven (yeast) represents sin all throughout Scripture. In the days leading up to Passover, it is customary to search through the home and rid any yeast products. The home is then thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the holiday season. This is the original “spring cleaning.” Throughout the week of Passover, no leavened breads or foods should be eaten. This also correlates with the soul searching each of us should regularly do for the leaven of sin in our own lives. The apostle Paul exhorts, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:28 ESV) Passover, then, presents an excellent opportunity for personal reﬂection and confession of sin. Interestingly, Jesus himself did a cleansing of sorts after his “triumphal entry” of Palm Sunday. He entered the temple and threw out the money changers (who he had probably seen many times before). It is easy to make the connection that he was following the Biblical instruction to prepare for Passover by cleansing His Father’s house.
LEADER:NOW THIS 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. (Exodus 12:14)
At sundown on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan, the date God instituted as the beginning of Passover, the lady of the house lights the candles with these blessings. Just as candles shed light, God’s festivals are designed to shed light on everyone who takes part in them, as well as to shed light on His role in our lives. It is the woman’s responsibility to kindle the festival lights. The rabbis say this is because it was through a woman, Eve, that darkness or sin came into the world. It therefore follows that it should be through a woman that light is restored.
(Hostess may cover her head if she desires. She recites the blessings in English as she lights the candles. She waves her hands over the candles in a circular motion three times, as if welcoming in the holiday.)
FEMALE: MAY THE FESTIVAL LIGHT WE NOW KINDLE INSPIRE US TO USE OUR GIFTS TO SPREAD YOUR WORD AND LIGHT TO THE ENTIRE WORLD. USE US, O GOD, TO HEAL AND NOT HARM, TO HELP AND NOT HINDER, TO BLESS AND NOT CURSE, TO SERVE YOU O GOD, OUR ROCK AND OUR REDEEMER.
(After the candles are lit, the hostess covers her eyes so as not to see the candles burning until after the blessing is said.)
BLESSED ARE YOU, LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO HAS MADE US HOLY AND HAS COMMANDED US TO OBSERVE THE FESTIVAL.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DOE-NEI, EH-LOW-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, AH-SHER KEED-SHA-NOO BEH-MITZ-VOH-TAV, VEH-TZEE-VAH-NOO LA-AH-SOT ET YOM TOV)
ALL: MAY THE FESTIVAL LIGHTS WE NOW KINDLE INSPIRE US TO USE OUR GIFTS TO SPREAD YOUR WORD AND LIGHT TO THE ENTIRE WORLD. USE US, O GOD, TO HEAL AND NOT HARM, TO HELP AND NOT HINDER, TO BLESS AND NOT CURSE, TO SERVE YOU O GOD, OUR ROCK AND OUR REDEEMER.
LEADER: Seder means “order.” This dinner is ordered around four cups of wine (or grape juice!) we will drink this evening based on the four “I wills” that God declares in Exodus 6:6-7— Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians [sanctiﬁcation], and I will deliver you from slavery to them [deliverance or judgment], and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment [redemption]. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God [praise or completion], who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:6-7 ESV)
Cup #1—Cup of Sanctiﬁcation (Everyone should ﬁll their glass.)
This ﬁrst cup is known as the cup of sanctiﬁcation. To be sanctiﬁed means to be set apart. God sanctiﬁed His people Israel and set them apart from the nations around them. He also sanctiﬁes us and desires that we be set apart from, or live diﬀerently than,
those who do not know God. God started with his chosen people, the Jews, but then grafted us into his family through Christ. In Romans 15:16, the Apostle Paul says he is called to minister to the Gentiles, “so that the oﬀering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctiﬁed by the Holy Spirit.” This is why it is a privilege for us to celebrate this feast of Passover.
And as we set apart this night for God we need to take some time to sanctify our mind. One of the traditional stories read every passover is about the 4 children. The Wise, the wicked, the simple and the one who didn’t know what to ask. What does the wise son say?
“What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you?” You should tell him about the laws of Pesach, that one may eat no dessert after eating the Pesach oﬀering.
What does the wise son say? “What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you?” You should tell him about the laws of Pesach, that one may eat no dessert after eating the Pesach offering.
What does the wicked son say? “What does this drudgery mean to you?” To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should discipline him by saying to him: “It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”
What does the simple son say? “What’s this?” You should say to him “With a strong hand Hashem took me out of Egypt, from the house of servitude.”
And the one who does not know how to ask, you start for him, as the Torah says: “And you should tell your son on that day, saying ‘It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.'”
There’s a ton to unpack here, but we want to highlight one principal that’s important for us to grasp in our walk with God.
God’s desire for us is to identify with the family of Faith. We’ve been adopted and grafted into that family tree, and we’re to see God’s salvation in our life as a root that’s deeper than us that traces back to Abraham and all those who have walked the life of faith.
Why Is this important?
We must see ourselves in the grand narrative of God’s Salvation. It brings Glory to God and makes us sit back in wonder at all He has done. Communion as with passover is about remembering God’s Salvation, we remember but it’s important that we identify as we
This is a huge topic in the bible, God’s heart has always been to the nations, and as His desire is adoption into His family. When you read the Psalms, or study the stories in the Bible and the words of the prophets, WE is the main point. 6
Isaiah 56 says,
Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”;
It’s clear to see that we’re apart of the blessings of the root of faith, but Identity Can’t stop just with the Good. We also Identity and repent for the mistakes and sins of our fathers many that we’ve fallen into at times with a humble heart.
We see this example where Daniel including himself in the prayer of repentance to God, as he intercedes for his people’s deliverance. Also in Matthew 23 Jesus spoke out to the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees distancing themselves from their ancestors who killed the prophets.
Passover is one of these times, for us to not just remember but to Identify, both with His death and our Sin that lead Him to the Cross and His amazing redemptive Love that saved US. So as we continue this night, don’t say God delivered THEM, but God delivered US. WE wen’t through the red sea, WE were fed by God’s mercy in the desert, he did it for all of US!
LEADER: YOU HAVE DONE THIS LOVINGLY, O LORD, THROUGH YOUR COMMANDMENTS, THE SABBATH, THE FESTIVALS AND FEASTS, AND THE PASSOVER.
Let us all lift our first cup together and bless the LORD!
ALL: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, CREATOR OF THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, BO-RAY PREE HA-GA-FEN.)
(Everyone drinks the whole glass.)
LEADER:WE ARE GATHERED TONIGHT AS A FAMILY TO TAKE PART IN THE PASSOVER MEAL. WE THANK ALMIGHTY GOD WHO HAS PRESERVED US ALIVE, SUSTAINED US, AND BROUGHT US TO ENJOY THIS SEASON.
We now turn to the symbolic seder plate.
Karpas (parsley) and Ma’im Meh-luach (salt water) (Leader holds up a piece of parsley.)
This represents life, and the produce of the earth which gives us life. A vegetable begins its life as a seed planted in the ground. Then it sprouts and grows until ready for the harvest. This is a beautiful picture of the nation Israel. When she was just a “seed,” a tiny group of seventy people, God brought her to Egypt where he planted her. There she grew. When God brought her out of Egypt she was a nation two million people strong. However, life is not always sweet. So we dip this parsley into salt water as a reminder of the tears that were shed by the slaves in Egypt (and which many of us shed through our own struggles in life). The salt water can also represent the salty
water of the Red Sea which God parted and allowed His people to pass through on dry ground to safety.
(Everyone picks up a piece of Karpas and dips it into the salt water.)
ALL: BLESSED ART THOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, CREATOR OF THE PRODUCE OF THE EARTH.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAM, BO-RAY PREE HA-AH-DA-MA)
LEADER:AS WE EAT THIS VEGETABLE, WE ARE REMINDED THAT ALL GOOD GIFTS COME FROM GOD. AS WE PARTAKE OF THIS PARSLEY DIPPED IN SALTWATER, WE REMEMBER THAT EVEN THE SWEETNESS OF LIFE MAY BE IMMERSED IN TEARS, AND WE THANK GOD THAT THROUGH MUCH SUFFERING, HE BRINGS NEW LIFE TO HIS PEOPLE THROUGH HIS SACRIFICE.
(All eat the Karpas.)
LEADER: During Passover, we eat only bread without yeast. The traditional form of this is the matzah cracker. As the children of Israel prepared to leave Egypt, they did not have time for their bread to rise. The unleavened bread reminds us of their hurry. Yet when God commanded this hurry, do you think He was afraid of the Egyptians? Of course not! This is just one more part of his master plan of pointing to the Messiah. Yeast in the Bible is a symbol of sin, perhaps because it causes the dough to “puff up,” and how many sins in our lives start with a puffed up ego (which is why Passover is such a great time for reflection and confession of the sin tainting our lives!)! The Matzah cracker is an amazing symbol of Messiah, “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), so it obviously could not have any leaven (sin) in it.
Besides the regular stack of unleavened matzah crackers we are free to eat from, we also have on the table what is called a matzah-tash, or a unity. It has three separate sections which are bound together into one. Each section of the unity contains a matzah. Jewish tradition holds various ideas about the meaning of these three sections (i.e., the unity of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or the unity of the body of Israel in three groups of people—the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the people.) However, as believers we have a special understanding of another three-in-one unity, the Trinity. What a perfect representation of the one true God consisting of three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
(Leader removes the middle matzah. Each person may break off a piece of their own matzah to examine from the uncovered stack of crackers, NOT from the middle matzah.)
As we remove the middle matzah cracker, let us examine it. Hold it up to the light of the candle and notice the holes piercing it, notice how they are arranged in stripes, notice the brown
spots that resemble bruises. To this day, Jewish people refer to this bread as being “striped” and “pierced”…which sounds a lot like Isaiah 53’s description of Messiah’s suffering.
And the symbolism of the matza-tash gets even better!
(Leader breaks the middle matzah in half, and places the small half on top of the matzah-tash. He then wraps the other larger half in a linen cloth and prepares to “bury” it)
The middle matzah is removed from the unity and broken in half. The larger half of the broken middle matzah is called the afikomen (a Greek word translated “he came”). It is wrapped in a linen cloth and “buried.” While many opinions about this unusual practice do exist, there is no definitive reason given in current known Jewish tradition. But once again, for us believers, it speaks beautifully of the Messiah who was separated from the holy unity on the cross, broken at death, his body wrapped in a linen cloth and buried.
(Someone goes out and hides the afikomen for kids to find later. Leader raises the plate with the uncovered matzah.)
THIS IS THE BREAD OF AFFLICTION THAT OUR FOREFATHERS ATE IN THE LAND OF EGYPT. LET ALL WHO ARE HUNGRY COME AND EAT. [note the quote from the Statue of Liberty]
(The leader lowers the plate and wine glasses are filled.)
Four Questions (These are the traditional four questions asked by the youngest child in the family. They may seem a little strange to our culture, so feel free to create your own questions to instigate discussion, perhaps about why we celebrate Passover and how Jesus fits into the symbolism…)
CHILD 1: WHY IS THIS NIGHT DIFFERENT FROM ALL OTHER NIGHTS? WHY ON THIS NIGHT DO WE EAT ONLY UNLEAVENED BREAD?
LEADER:A long time ago, the Jews were slaves in the land of Egypt. When they were finally able to leave, they left Egypt in a hurry and took their bread dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls packed up. The dough was pierced and cooked on their backs by the hot sun as they walked. It was flat with holes and brown stripes just like the matzah you see today, except that it was probably round. It represents our desire to get rid of sin in our life, as well as Jesus who was sinless and perfect and was the sacrifice for our sins.
CHILD 2: WHY ON THIS NIGHT DO WE EAT BITTER HERBS?
LEADER: We eat bitter herbs to remind us of the bitter life of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt. The Bible tells us that the Egyptians made their lives bitter with hard work, making bricks and working in the fields, and also with killing their babies and beating them.
CHILD 3: WHY ON THIS NIGHT DO WE DIP OUR FOOD?
LEADER: We dip first into salt water to taste the tears of slavery. We dip a second time in the karoset to remind us of the mortar the slaves had to make. The karoset tastes sweet because through all the hard work, God prepared his people for the journey and redeemed their story.
CHILD 4: WHY ON THIS NIGHT DO WE EAT RECLINING? (Which, by the way, going through the meal sitting on the floor with pillows and cushions would be a great thing to try with your family.) (Another option, which we will follow tonight, is every time we partake in a cup or a seder plate element, we will lean back as if reclining, just to remind us of this “freedom”.)
LEADER: We recline because free men can eat in any position they like. Passover is a celebration of freedom. There used to be a law that slaves could only eat sitting straight up or standing. But now we are free. This also hints at our freedom in Christ.
Retelling of the story of Passover
The point of Passover is to remember what God has done for us, and specifically what He did to rescue his people from Egypt. So let us review the story of Passover.
READER 1: Several thousand years ago, the ancestors of the Jews worshipped idols. So God spoke to a man named Abraham and told him to leave his father’s house and his country and go to the land He would show him.
READER 2: God promised Abraham that He would give him a son and multiply his descendants.
READER 3: God brought Abraham and his family to the land of Canaan and promised that land to his descendants.
READER 4: God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision and a son named Isaac.
READER 5: Isaac had a son named Jacob and Jacob had twelve sons. One of those sons was named Joseph.
READER 6: Joseph was his father’s favorite, which made his brothers very jealous. So they sold him to be a slave in Egypt.
READER 7: But God was with Joseph and rescued him through many hard times. Eventually, God brought Joseph to a place of power. Pharaoh, King of Egypt, recognized Joseph’s wisdom and put Joseph in charge of his own household as well as the entire country of Egypt.
READER 8: A terrible famine struck the land, and there was a lot of suffering. But God had given Joseph the wisdom to store up food ahead of time.
READER 9: Jacob heard that there was food in Egypt and sent his sons there to get some. Later, he sent them back for a second trip, during which Joseph couldn’t resist revealing himself to his brothers.
READER 10: Joseph invited his father, brothers, and their families to come live in Egypt with him. Altogether there were seventy people.
READER 11: Jacob and his sons lived the rest of their lives in Egypt and their families grew and multiplied.
READER 12: Years passed and a new Pharaoh came into power who did not know Joseph or care about the great things that God had done through him for Egypt. He made the Israelites his slaves and treated them harshly.
READER 13: After many years of suffering, God raised up a deliverer for his people, Moses.
READER 14: Moses went to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go!” But Pharaoh said, “No!” He hardened his heart and refused to listen.
READER 15: God sent ten different plagues against Pharaoh and the land of Egypt, corresponding to different false gods that the Egyptians worshipped. He was showing them that he controlled even their “gods” and that He is the only true God.
READER 16: The tenth plague was when God instituted the Passover. The angel of death would pass over any house marked by the blood of the lamb. But in any house not covered by the blood, the firstborn would die. Israel was God’s firstborn, so since Pharaoh wouldn’t give God His firstborn, God took Pharaoh’s.
READER 17: Finally, after the tenth plague Pharaoh relented. He and all the Egyptians sent the Israelites away, giving them jewelry and other offerings as they left.
READER 18: When the Israelites were stuck at the Red Sea, Pharaoh changed his mind and started to chase them. God displayed his power once again, splitting the sea in two to let His people cross over, and then letting it flow back together again to wipe out Pharaoh’s army.
Cup #2—Cup of Judgment or Deliverance
(or Cup of the Plagues) (Exodus 7-11) LEADER: A full cup of wine/juice symbolizes complete joy. We show our sorrow over the losses of the Egyptians who chose not to trust the true God by taking out a drop of wine/juice, or joy, for each plague that was suffered.
(Everyone fills their glasses a second time.)
As the plagues are read out loud, each person dips a finger into his glass and
sprinkles the juice from his finger onto his plate. Say each plague’s name three
ALL: Blood, blood, blood Pretend to take a drink, then make a nasty face and spit it out. (The Nile River was turned into blood, justice for all the baby boys who had been thrown in the river to die, Exodus 1:22) Frogs, frogs, frogs Kids can hop around like a frog. Otherwise, make your hand jump like a frog all over the table. (A frog was God’s way of showing his power over the Egyptian goddess Heket) Lice, lice, lice Tap your fingers all over your head. (The dust became lice, showing God’s power over the Egyptian god of the earth, Heb) Flies, flies, flies Tap your fingers all over your face. (The Hebrew word is “Arov” which means “swarms,” which also refers to the scarab beetle which was worshipped in Egypt. If they wanted to worship a bug, God gave them an abundance to worship!) Death of Livestock, livestock, livestock Pretend your hands are animals, and let them fall over as if they died. (God showed his power over the cattle that the Egyptians worshipped. Ironically, Apis the bull god was where the Israelites got the idea later for their golden calf.) Boils, boils, boils Tap your fingers all over your body. This plague particularly affected the false priests, rendering them powerless to serve their ineffective gods because of their misery, Exodus 9:11) Hail, hail, hail Tap your fingers all over the table. (This plague affected only the unbelieving Egyptians side of the land, not the Hebrews who believed in the one true God, Exodus 9:26) Locusts, locusts, locusts Jump your fingers all over the table and your body. (All their crops were destroyed, showing God’s power over the Egyptian gods of prosperity.) Darkness, darkness, darkness Cover your eyes with your hands. (This thick darkness showed God’s power over their primary god, the sun god.) Death of the Firstborn, death, death Trace a tear down your cheek and look sad. (This was a punishment for all the Hebrew babies the Egyptians had killed, but God also provided a way of salvation for all who believed—by the blood of the lamb.)
Leader: God used these 10 plagues to show His power and convince the Egyptians to let His people go. The plagues caused sadness for the Egyptians who refused to believe in God, but they brought freedom to the Hebrews. And so we celebrate that freedom with a song. Song—Dye-ay-noo, “It would have been sufficient”
LEADER: This song brings up a great question we should all spend time reflecting on. What has God done that is “sufficient” for our praise in our life?
None of this would truly be sufficient, however, had God not sent Jesus as the ultimate Passover Lamb, our complete and total sacrifice. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…” On the traditional Seder plate is a shank bone to represent the original Passover Lamb. As believers, we again recognize the symbolism of Jesus.
Shank bone (Leader points to the shank bone, but does not lift it.)
Everything God commands us to do has a reason. This shank bone represents the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed as a covering for the people. Some cool notes on the Passover Lamb:
It’s blood was painted across the top and on both sides of the door. This action makes the mark of the cross. This was a sign to the Lord that the angel of death would pass over the house and the firstborn inside would be spared. For us believers, Jesus is our covering. The Passover Lamb was skewered across the shoulders and down the middle—again, the shape of the cross—then roasted and eaten completely.
In order for a lamb to be usable for Passover it had to be a physically perfect one- year-old male without blemish (Exodus 12:5). The Hebrew term for “one-year-old” is actually just an idiom or expression meaning “pure” (see also 1 Samuel 13:1, where King Saul is said to have begun his reign when he was “one-year-old” or in other words, still “pure.”). The lamb also went through a time of observation (Exodus 12:6), and none of his bones could be broken while being killed. Jesus perfectly fulfills these requirements: He was “pure”, observed by the masses during his three year ministry, and none of his bones were broken during his execution—even though that was common during Roman crucifixions (see John 19:31-37).
Also, Passover Lambs were born and bred in Bethlehem, just outside of Jerusalem. The primary job of shepherds outside of Bethlehem was to raise the lambs that would be used for Passover each year. Interesting, who did the angels first announce Jesus’ birth to? Shepherds outside of Bethlehem…the Passover Lamb caretakers! Another interesting side-note, Rabbinic tradition tells us the exact field in which the Messiah would first be revealed to the Jewish people: “…From this we know that Messiah will first be revealed to Israel from the field of Migdal Eder” (Targum Jonathan on Genesis 35:21). This field is just outside of Bethlehem.
Passover lambs were brought into the city of Jerusalem on the 10th day of the 1st month, which is what we call Palm Sunday the year Jesus was crucified! He entered the city on a donkey through the sheep gate at the same time the other lambs were coming in! People would
traditionally wave palm branches and shout Hosanna in joyful celebration of the upcoming sacrifice and feast. But when they noticed Jesus, they didn’t stop there. John 12:12-13 records, 12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!”
Passover lambs are killed at a specific time. Most Bible versions say at “twilight” (Exodus 12:6), but the word we translate “twilight” really means something closer to “middle of the evening.” Jewish days are divided between the morning hours (6 a.m. to noon) and the evening hours (noon to 6 p.m.). So the middle of the evening would be 3 p.m., which would make much more sense if all work needed to be completed by sundown (killing and preparing a lamb probably takes more than just a few minutes!). So historically, the high priest would ascend the altar at exactly 3 p.m. with the Passover lamb. As another priest blew a shofar on the temple wall, the high priest cut the throat of the sacrificial lamb and declared, “It is finished.” Let’s look at Luke 23: 44-46 to see how this beautifully correlates to Jesus, our Passover Lamb: “44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” John 19:30 adds, “30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
THEREFORE WE ARE BOUND TO THANK, PRAISE, GLORIFY, EXTOL, HONOR, BLESS, AND EXALT OUR GOD, WHO DID ALL THESE MIRACLES FOR OUR ANCESTORS AND FOR US. HE HAS BROUGHT US OUT OF BONDAGE TO FREEDOM, FROM SORROW TO JOY, FROM DARKNESS TO GREAT LIGHT, FROM SERVITUDE TO REDEMPTION. THEREFORE LET US SING UNTO HIM A NEW SONG!
ALL: (Recite Psalm 113 together.)
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. 2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore. 3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.
4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens. 5 Who is like the LORD our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high, 6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; 8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people. 9 He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD. (All raise their glasses.)
LEADER: LET US BLESS GOD FOR THIS SECOND CUP, NOT ONLY THE CUP OF JUDGEMENT BUT ALSO OF DELIVERANCE.
ALL: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, CREATOR OF THE FRUIT OF THE VINE. (BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, BO-RAY PREE HA-GA-FEN.)
(Everyone drinks the second cup.)
LEADER: At this time in the seder, we will ceremonially wash our hands. Some say that it is at this point that Jesus may have wrapped a towel around his waist and went around with a basin to each of his disciples and washed not their hands but their feet! Note, as the host of this seder, Jesus held the place of honor and should have had His hands washed at the very beginning. But in an act of extreme humility, he demonstrated just how we should serve others. John 13:3-5 recounts, “3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” What a great model for us to follow!
BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO HAS SANCTIFIED US BY YOUR COMMANDMENTS AND HAS BROUGHT US TO THE TIME OF THE WASHING OF THE HANDS.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, AH-SHER KEED-SHA-NOO BEH-MITZ-VOH-TAV V’HI-GEE-AH-NOO LA-ZMAN SHEL N’TEE-LAT YAH-DA- YEEM)
(Pass around a basin of water for everyone to dip their hands into, ceremonially washing them.)
Eating the Matzah
LEADER: We now turn to the matzah once again. 15
(Leader takes out the top piece of matzah in the unity and breaks off a small piece then passes it around to all. Everyone holds up their piece.)
ALL: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO BRINGS FORTH BREAD FROM THE EARTH.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM HA-MO-TZEE LEH-KEM MEEN HA-A-RETZ.)
(All eat the matzah.)
Lettuce/Bitter herbs (chazeret/mahroar)
(Leader lifts up the romaine lettuce.)
LEADER: Romaine lettuce is commonly used today in salads, but it is a slightly bitter leaf. Its bitterness increases in its stalk. This reminds us of how life in Egypt for the descendants of Jacob changed from an escape from famine into a bitter life of slavery. We identify with them in their bitterness.
(Leader dips lettuce into the charoset.)
LEADER: The charoset reminds us of the mortar used by the Israelites to build in Egypt. Yet in spite of their hard labor, there were still moments of sweetness. We all experience hardships, but it is comforting to remember that God always sees us in the midst of them and has plans to redeem them in the future. In our weakness, Christ is made strong. In our tough times, God’s strength keeps us going. And through the bitter times, we better appreciate the blessed salvation of God. And so we dip the lettuce in the sweet charoset not to eliminate the harshness, but to bring sweetness into the bitterness.
(All dip a piece of lettuce lightly into the charoset and then eat.)
(Leader breaks off a piece of the bottom matzah and dips it into the horseradish.)
LEADER: The longer the Israelites stayed in Egypt, the more oppressive their slavery became. 435 years of harsh servitude passed and even though God had a redeeming plan all along, to human eyes, hope seemed dismal. We now take a piece of the bottom matzah and dip it into the horseradish to commemorate their suffering.
(All break off a piece of the bottom matzah and dip it into the horseradish.)
ALL: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, WHO HAS SANCTIFIED US WITH THY COMMANDMENTS, AND COMMANDED US TO EAT BITTER HERBS.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, AH-SHER KEED-SHA-NOO BEH-MITZ-VOH-TAHV VEH-TZEE-VAH-NOO AL AH-KEE-LOTE MAH-ROAR.)
DINNER IS NOW SERVED (including any desserts, because after the afikomen is served later on, the meal is considered completed.)
Cup #3—Cup of Redemption
(Third glass is poured.)
LEADER: In Jewish tradition, grace is always said after the meal. So let us now give thanks.
ALL: MAY THE NAME OF THE ETERNAL BE BLESSED FOR NOW AND FOR EVERMORE. BLESSED BE HE WHOSE FOOD WE HAVE EATEN AND IN WHOSE GOODNESS WE LIVE.
Afikomen (a.k.a. Matzah hunt!)
LEADER: Traditionally, this is the time that any children at the seder go search for the hidden afikomen. (This is a much more Jesus centered version of our traditional Easter Egg hunt) The kid who finds the Afikomen then brings it to the Abba or Father of the table and receives a reward of coins traditionally of silver as a redemption price.
(Kids go search for missing piece. A prize is given to the winner, or all. Leader unwraps the afikomen and reunites it with the original half of the broken matzah.)
LEADER: WHAT WAS BROKEN IS MADE WHOLE.
This is the best part of the whole seder, the part that we in the Church call “communion.” Luke 22:19 describes, “ 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Consider the significance of the bread he was giving them (the middle member of the unity, pierced, striped, hidden, reclaimed…). Consider the horrific body-breaking ordeal he knew he was about to face. These words are not just a trite ritual. Take time to ponder them as we distribute the afikomen.
(Leader breaks off small pieces of the afikomen and distributes them. Then Leader holds up third glass.)
This third cup of juice is known as the cup of redemption. It has been called this for thousands of years, but consider the new significance of redemption in light of what Jesus was about to do on the cross when he paused to give his disciples a new explanation. Jesus stopped them before they drank it, to explain the “new” why for this cup. When he emphasized “Do this in remembrance of me,” he wanted them to remember what would happen in the next twenty four hours. The
disciples certainly did remember, which is why it is recorded in the gospels. Luke 22:20 says, “20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
A few notes on wine back then that give Jesus’ words extra significance. Back then, wine was usually served in a 50/50 mixture of water and wine. Fast forward to when Jesus died on the cross. Without having to break any of his bones, the Roman soldiers found him dead, and to double check, one of them pierced his heart…and separated blood and water flowed out—like the 50/50 mixture of wine Jesus was holding up for the disciples at this point in the meal!
The medical explanation of the separate blood and water that flowed out is that when the human body experiences excruciating pain, sometimes the heart will actually explode. At this point, the blood then settles and the water separates from it…Therefore, if this is what happened to Jesus, his literal cause of death: he died from a BROKEN HEART!!!
Instead of offering the usual blessing for this afikomen and cup of redemption, let us instead reflect on Jesus’ words to his disciples. Let us pause for a moment of silent prayer as we still our hearts before Him, repentant of the sins we have committed that drove him to the cross, humbled by his incredible gift, and grateful for his total sacrifice.
(Pause for reflection)
So Jesus lifted up the bread and said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Let us eat the afikomen.
And then he lifted up the cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24) Let us drink the cup of redemption.
Thank you, Jesus for the gift of your body and blood, given for us. We remember your sacrifice with gratitude.
ALL: BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, CREATOR OF THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, BO-RAY PREE HA-GA-FEN.)
(Glasses are filled for the fourth cup.)
Cup #4—Cup of Praise or Completion
LEADER: According to the Bible, Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot so as not to see death. Tradition holds that he will return just before the coming of the Messiah during Passover. This is why we have a cup on the table in his honor. Every year, we now open the door in anticipation of Elijah’s coming.
(A child is sent to the front door to open it to welcome Elijah.)
ALL: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
(Elijah isn’t there, so the door is shut, and then traditionally Psalm 115-118 are read. After, everyone lifts their fourth cup.)
ALL: Psalm 117
All the nations, praise the Lord. All you people, praise Him. The Lord loves us very much. His truth is everlasting. Praise the Lord!
(All raise their fourth cup.)
ALL: To Him praise is becoming. To Him praise will always be becoming. NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!
BLESSED ARE YOU, O LORD OUR GOD, KING OF THE UNIVERSE, CREATOR OF THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.
(BAH-ROOK AH-TAH AH-DO-NIE, EH-LO-HAY-NOO MEH-LEK HA-OH-LAHM, BO-RAY PREE HA-GA-FEN.)
(All drink the fourth cup.)
LEADER: Interesting to note, Jesus did not drink the fourth cup with his disciples. After drinking the Cup of Redemption (#3), he said, 25“Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” 26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:25-26)
The hymn they probably sang was from the Psalms like we just read. But he could not come to the “Completion” until his death on the cross—when he declared “It is finished.”
The other aspect in this cup and what Jesus did is to see is our command to eagerly await His return. The word says it was For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Our vision needs to be the same. Looking to the Kingdom to come, praying for the day He returns and making ourself ready for that day. As we pray “your Kingdom come” we keep our vision set on that Goal for our life. When we keep that perspective of not just the here and now of life, but the Kingdom to come, it puts our life and the Bible in perspective.
So as we complete this service, let us spend some time praising God and giving thanks for His great love and salvation.
(All respond with short prayers as they wish or with a hymn of praise.)
LEADER: THE PASSOVER SERVICE HAS NOW BEEN COMPLETED ACCORDING TO ITS ORDER. LET US GO FORTH IN REMEMBRANCE OF WHAT WE HAVE DONE.