Recently I found some of my notes from keeping the Passover as a small group a few years ago.  Rather than the very formal and consistent script that many of the corporate churches of God (COGs) use for Passover, the smaller groups often have a more interactive meeting where multiple people share speaking roles.

This post is adapted from my notes when I presented the portion of the service around the meaning of the Passover bread one year.  While a bit more perfunctory than many studies on the site, these are good themes to re-visit as we prepare for the Passover every year, and may be helpful for those keeping it in small, interactive groups.

If you want to download my speaking notes for your Passover night meeting, you can find that here: Passover Night Service: The Bread .  Also, here is a similar post on the Passover wine.

Themes of Keeping the Passover – Meaning of the Bread

During His ministry, Jesus Christ was already priming the disciples for His eventual institution of new Passover symbols.  We’ll start in John, where He said:

“I am the bread of life…the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world…Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you…He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:48-56)

At the time, this was a hard and confusing statement, and it wasn’t until after their last Passover with Christ and His sacrifice that the disciples connected the dots.

Something that is often on my mind at this time of year is how we’ve historically approached deleavening.  (I realize we’re talking the Passover so this feels like a tangent, but stick with me here…)

In the past, so much of the way we’ve de-leavened was about us putting leaven (sin) out.  Sticking the vacuum back behind the stove, air canister-ing our toaster, obsessively reading food labels.

But we can’t put sin out of our lives by ourselves.  Not one iota.  So if we’re approaching “de-leavening” that way, it’s hypocritical and pharisaical, and kind of missing the point.

As a result, we’ve sometimes co-opted the Days of Unleavened Bread into a time focused on ourselves and what we’re trying to put OUT of our lives, rather than orienting around taking IN Christ—the Bread of Life.

To me, this mindset is partly a result of treating the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread as two separate holy days/events rather than one cohesive experience.  But the Passover and Unleavened Bread commands from Old Testament to New are very “of a piece” and consistent.

So let’s actually go back quickly to look at the original command, which is quite simple.

“[Regarding the Passover lamb] Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs…so this day shall be to you a memorial…Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall 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 [relationship with God]” (Ex. 12:15).

It goes on to command the first day as a holy convocation (verse 16), then reiterates a few key details:

“So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt…In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at even…you shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread” (Ex. 12:17-20)

Let’s hone in on a few important details from the original commands to keep the Passover:

  • We eat unleavened bread with the Passover (or as Christ instituted, at the Passover memorial)
  • We must eat unleavened bread for seven days (it states this at least three times)
  • We must not eat anything leavened
  • This is to put our focus on and commemorate what God was doing for them, delivering His people from Egypt (representing the slavery of sin, this carnal world, and death)

The focus of the command was consuming unleavened bread, and one of the key purposes was to remind the Israelites of how God had redeemed them from bondage.

And so when Jesus Christ instituted the new Passover symbols before His death, He focused on the same thing—consuming the unleavened bread, and that it pictures something God is doing for us.

“And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19)

What He knew in that moment that the disciples did not, was what “given” actually meant—that in mere hours that same body would be beaten, scourged, torn, and pierced to fulfill the prophecy given in Isaiah.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities…and by His stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5)

Even if you or I were the only human being on the planet, Jesus Christ would still have to suffer and die for our sins.  His body was sacrificed for our physical and spiritual healing, and to redeem us from the bondage of sin.

For us today, the Passover bread service brings a reminder that we must repent and ingest Christ DAILY (our daily bread; Matt. 6:11) to remain in a relationship with God.  Earlier in that passage in John, Jesus said:

“Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life…For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:27, 33, 35)

Even in the Old Testament, God’s emphasis for the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread was on what He was doing for His chosen people.  And what He is doing for us today is mind-blowing.

A Savior who pays our debts and wipes away the death penalty our sin incurs.  Who makes it possible for us to come before God by giving us His spirit.  Who ultimately offers us the chance for eternal life in His kingdom.

This is something we should meditate on as we take in the bread of the Passover.  Let’s go back to Luke as we take the bread:

“And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19)

I hope everyone has an inspiring and spiritually-rich Passover season with other brethren.

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