This year we are finally getting a bit more understanding of how Pesach (Passover or The Passover) is actually separated from the Chag Ha’Matozt (Feast of Unleavened Bread) are truly separated, and realizing some of the debates about it. A lot of things I have never paid attention to previously.
Yeshua, the “Last Supper”, and Pesach / Passover Meal
Wow I had just always gone along with things I had heard abut this from christian traditional teaching. The Last Supper was the Passover Meal, and it looked like what Jewish people do today with a Seder, Haggadah, and all sorts of things. The whole dipping bread into the bowl of Charoset with Judas stuff…
I had no idea there was a different understanding of it, and I didnt realize how it could be a bit important to make the distinction…
If Yeshua was indeed “our passover lamb” (and I like the counter argument here however I see it from both angles), or in some way connected to it obviously from the timing and the claims in scripture, he wouldnt have been eating the actual meal at “The Passover”. Steve Berkson does a great job presenting his argument about why he thinks scripture says this. I also love this post on the reality that the Passover was never a sin offering.
Things like this tend to devolve into endless debates, and even can get intense. Im not trying to do that, and Im comfortable with the tension. The above is just a quick sample of ideas, and all have some interesting perspectives. The main things I have come away with over the last few years are following.
There are lots more points people get into, but I simply had never thought about it, and had never questioned how or why I pictured it this way. It was simply what I had been taught, and hadnt unlearned yet. Im also not sure how deeply it matters, but I find that the preconceived notions I have shape my perception and practice and inform my view and response to who and how I think God works. If it is wrong, or erroneous, it is profitable to change it!
- Passover was not a sin offering or sacrifice as far as I could tell. Perhaps there is some deeper, non-obvious level to it, but it seems clear it is not related to later Torah commands about sacrifices. It was a sign of obedience and faith in response to the Word of Yah for deliverance from judgement coming to the whole land.
- The modern seder event seems to have been instituted far later than the time of Yeshua. Nehemia Gordon discusses this with a Jewish scholar and while a bit technical, is really interesting to me. It is respectful, and not trying to debase or antagonize anyone. This would suggest that the meal itself was far simpler and what is being described in the Gospel accounts is actually a profound meal, but not some Jewish Seder like us moderns would superimpose on the account.
- Yeshua seems to clearly have been executed at Passover. Like perhaps literally at the time thousands upon thousands of lambs were being slaughtered at the Temple. However, while I believe Yeshua fulfilled many, of not all of the Temple sacrifices in many different phases and forms, this is not connected tot he idea of sin or forgiveness. If he was executed at the actual Passover slaughtering, he clearly couldn’t be also eating it at the same time.
- The Passover isnt even a feast, it is an event that is profound, but it is all mashed together in reference, but actually not the same thing. Again, Nehemia Gordon has great perspective on this and I recommend reading all his linked articles about the nuances.
- The command to remember this, and to eat it after the actual Pesach event, was not to avoid repeated acts of destruction of the firstborn. It was to reconnect with the reality of the deliverance from the Judgement. It was a pilgrimage for the men, and any women who wanted to come, up to Jerusalem which is connected to, but totally separate from, the Feast of Unleavened Bread which culminates with a First Fruits offering. This seems to me to be the winding up of the Spring harvest, the chance to thank he Creator and reconnect with the reality of how the promise of Yahweh was fulfilled regardless of all the other circumstances. It was both an overnight deliverance, and a multi-generational process that brought everyone up to that point in time, and this was a week to stop, get centered at the start of a new year, do business with God, and see family before returning home. Culturally, this really would have been a massive event.
This year we had dear friends come over, and their 3 bigger kids, and our 3 each shared something abut 1 of the plagues. Each of the parents also did. For some it was a simple picture, another had a presentation on a laptop, another said how bad it was when they had lice, and someone turned water into dark red liquid. The main idea here was to read the story, and connect just a bit more with the idea of how much judgement had occurred, how devastating it would have been, and how crazy it would be to be a Hebrew, watch all this happen, ask your neighbors for gold and silver, and then leave so quick you barely had time to make food.
One piece that I enjoyed and found challenging was the reality of my daily behavior and experience leading up to the Pesach and Holiday. Under Torah, there are several ways to become ritually unclean. If I were to do that, I wouldnt be able to do certain parts of participation. Yet these are commanded. I have no daily sense of this, and it frankly doesnt apply in the same way as I dont need to go to the Temple. But just thinking about it, and making an effort to conduct myself in ways that would ensure this was a way to connect with this on a deeper level.
Perhaps we are doing it all wrong. I forgot to make bitter herbs, and used some arugula. We have lamb left over, and we are going to burn it. I hate to waste it, but we are trying to connect with the commands themselves, and obey, even if we arent able to do all the other pieces (no temple, no pilgrimage, clean/unclean etc….). My understanding of leavening (chametz and seor) are getting far more simple as Ill discuss in a subsequent article. Maybe Im NOT being aggressive enough. Maybe Im being way too aggressive about this and making it into an idol.
All I can do is stumble through this, and continue to ask for guidance and faithfulness. So many things are changing even as I read over this website. I keep growing and morphing and at the end just hope I have not caused someone to stumble, yet perhaps supported them in their meandering.