Day 4: The Passover Seder
What you need for today:
3 pieces of matzah (but any type of cracker will work)
Grape juice or wine (or whatever drink you have handy)
The Last Supper was not just any meal; it is the traditional Jewish Passover Seder. All of the disciples were Jewish and they would know this feast well, they had probably celebrated it every year since they were born. If you are unfamiliar with the Passover, don’t worry, that’s part of what we’re exploring tonight.
Passover is a combination of two celebrations. 1. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread and 2. The Pesah (or Pesach) which means “pass over” in Hebrew. The Israelites were commanded to celebrate these festivals back in Exodus, and quickly they combined into one celebration. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread was to celebrate God’s provision in the dessert, and the Passover was to remember God’s rescue during the last plague in Egypt.
A “seder” meal was celebrated at the beginning and end of the festival to remember what God has done and to teach these stories to the next generation of children. “Seder” means “order” because there are 15 specific steps that are followed throughout the meal.
Read Luke 22:15-16
Now, put yourself in the disciples place. We see the last supper in the context of knowing the whole story of Jesus death & resurrection. The disciples did not have that luxury; they were watching these events unfold before them. To understand what Jesus was trying to teach them that night, we must see the Last Supper through the eyes of men who had a deep understanding of the Jewish traditions, but no knowledge of the coming events.
The first 4 steps of the Seder are about the sorrows of the past. Step 1 of the Seder is Kadesh or “blessing over wine.” During the Seder we will drink 4 cups of wine. This is the first. Each cup represents a different promise as given in Exodus 6:6-7.
Take the pitcher and pour each person a small glass of “wine.” While you are doing so,read Exodus 6:6-7
The first cup of wine is a reminder of God’s first promise “I will bring you out”
Together read the blessing for the wine: “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” Everyone drinks their first glass of wine.
Step 2 is the Urchataz: the first washing of hands. Step 3 is the Karpas: eating a green vegetable dipped in saltwater to represent the tears of hardship. Before God called Moses, why was the nation of Israel bitter and tearful? (if you need help, look in Exodus 1:1-14)
Step 4 is the Yachatz or breaking of middle matzah. Two of the matzah represent God’s provision of manna in the dessert. (If you would like more description of this, read Exodus 16:4-5, 27-32). The third piece of matzah is then broken in half (take 1 piece of matzah and break it). The larger half is wrapped in a napkin and hidden away (have someone hide the wrapped bread out of the way somewhere). The smaller half is known as the “bread of affliction.”
Read Deuteronomy 16:2-3
The bread of affliction is to remind us of times when we have known suffering. It is only half of a piece of matzah to remember times or places where food has been scarce. We remember suffering because without remembering pain, redemption and rescue become less important. What is a time of great struggle you have known in your life? Or where are places of suffering and affliction in the world that bring you pain, that you wish you could help?
The second section of the Seder is where we remember the story of our ancestors. Step 5: is the Maggid or “telling.” In traditional Seders this story would be told 4 different ways. Sometimes it is told with acting, sometimes with singing, sometimes with props. Most of Jewish tradition is oral, repetition is used to ensure that we do not forget important events. See if you can answer all of the following questions:
How did the Israelites get to Egypt? (For help look at Genesis 43:1-2, 45:16-20)
What happened in Egypt? (Exodus 1:6-10)
How did Moses lead the people out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:7,9-10; Exodus7-11)
What was the last plague? How were the Israelites protected from it? (Exodus 12:1-13)
How did the Israelites escape Pharaoh’s army? (Exodus 14:21-28)
In the past year, how have you seen God work in your life? Has he carried you though a painful situation? Has he restored a relationship? Has he healed you or someone you love? Has he given you peace or comfort?
Pour the 2nd glass of wine. Hold the glass up and repeat this blessing: “Therefore, it is our responsibility to give thanks, to sing praises, and to show honor to God, who has brought us from slavery to freedom, from times of sadness to times of happiness. Hallelujah. “
The second glass of wine represents the second promise in Exodus 6. “I will deliver you.” This is the time in the Seder when we celebrate God’s deliverance. Spend some time in worship, thanking God for what he has done. As part of your worship read Psalm 113 and 114. This is the first part of the Psalms known as the “Hallel” or Praise psalms.
Up to this point in the Seder we have seen bitterness and deliverance, and the third section of the Seder is where we would taste each of those things. Step 6 is the “Rachtzah” or ritual hand washing. Step 7 & 8 are Motzi & Matzah. The Motzi is the blessing over bread. “Blessed are you Adonai our God Sovereign of the universe who creates bread from the earth”
While you are breaking the matzah (2 ½ pieces) and distributing to the group read Luke 19:22.
This matzah is “the bread of affliction”, what would it mean to the disciples that Jesus said his body was represented in this bread?
In Steps 9-10 We would eat the bitter herbs as commanded in Exodus 12, first by themselves, then with something sweet. We do this because we taste bitterness in our lives, but we also know that there is good in the midst of sadness.
Step 11 is the meal. This is a feast to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. Stop and eat dinner together and enjoy one another’s company.
After a meal, step 12 is the Tzafun. Bring back the afikoman (the broken piece of matzah). This is the last thing that will be eaten at the Seder to remember that even after a great feast, there will be times when we will have little.
Step 13 is “Barech” or grace after meals. “Blessed are you, Adonai, who feeds all.”
Pour the third cup of wine. This cup represents the third promise in Exodus 6. “I will redeem you”
Read Luke 22:20
Why did Jesus say this statement over this specific cup?
If Jesus is making a new covenant, what was the old covenant?
If you were the disciples, what would you be thinking at this point?
Did you see where we used the two scriptures from Luke? When else do we most often use those scriptures? - With communion. It was no accident that Jesus chose bread and wine to be a reminder of what he was about to do. When he was speaking to the disciples he was telling them that every time they sat down to a Seder table they would remember his sacrifice. The bread of affliction was to represent the body of Christ that would break for us in the same way the Passover lamb was broken to redeem the Israelites.
When Jesus raised that third cup, it is described this way in Matthew26:27 “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Up to this point in history, redemption could only come through the shedding of blood. God required a blood sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people, so they might be clean and continue in relationship with them. It was through the shedding of an animals’ blood that the people received forgiveness of sins.
Step 14: We continue with the Hallel. Read out loud Psalm 118:1-4,19-24, 29
Pause here for a second, because before we continue I want you to see the parallels between this passage and some of the parables Jesus taught. Read John 10:7-9 and Matthew 21:37-42
Take your cups and fill them up for the 4th and final time, but do not drink it yet. This is for the 4th promise in Exodus 6 “I will take you for me as a people.”
Read Matthew 26:28-29
Jesus did not drink this 4th cup. The redemption could not be completed, and the kingdom could not come until he had died and was risen.
Read Matthew 28: 1-2
Read Colossians 1:12-15
It is in his redemption and resurrection that we are able to share in the inheritance of the kingdom. And with that, because of the redemption of Christ, we are children of the Lord and have been given a place in his Kingdom, we have the privilege of drinking of this cup of promise. Let’s worship this fulfillment of His promise.