Some of my earliest family memories happened during the Passover Seder meal at my grandparents’ home. The Seder meal marks the beginning of the eight-day holiday. I can remember playing on the floor next to the dinner table while everyone else was still sitting at the table, and my grandmother would say, “Twenty years are like nothing.” I marveled when she said that. Today, I’m amazed that Passover not only reminds me of those childhood memories—it reminds us of things that happened 3,500 years ago.
The Old Testament tells us that Egypt had enslaved the nation of Israel for 400 years. Then, God called to Moses from a burning bush. He told Moses to appear before Pharaoh and tell him, “‘Let my people go that they may worship Me.’” Pharaoh refused, and God sent a plague that turned the Nile River into blood.
Pharaoh still didn’t repent, so God sent a second plague of frogs followed by a third plague of gnats. There was a fourth plague of stinging horseflies, and the plagues continued. During the ninth plague the sun did not shine for three days, and consequently, Pharaoh told Moses he would die if he appeared before Pharaoh again. That was the event that brought the final plague.
God told the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb. They were to apply the lamb’s blood to the door of their house. The blood was applied to the two side posts and the upper frame of the door. In other words, the blood was applied to the doors in the form of a cross. That night, the Lord “passed over” Egypt. This is where the word “Passover” comes from. Every house that was marked by the blood of the lamb was safe. Any house that was not marked by blood suffered the tenth plague. In those houses the firstborn sons died. That tenth plague humbled Pharaoh who lost his firstborn too. He let the Jews go free. That was on the 14th day of the first month on the Jewish calendar.
Let’s skip ahead 1,500 years to the Last Supper, which took place on Passover. Jesus gathered with His disciples in the upper room and used the traditional, unleavened matzah bread along with the Passover cup to establish communion. Every time we receive communion we are reminded of what Jesus did at His Last Supper on Passover.
After Jesus finished His Last Supper, He left the Upper Room and was arrested, crucified, and killed. Jesus actually died on Passover. In Moses’ day, the firstborn of Egypt died on Passover while the firstborn of Israel was protected. In Jesus’ day, the Firstborn of God died on Passover so that you would be protected.
After Jesus drank the Passover cup at the Last Supper, He told His disciples, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). Jesus was saying He would celebrate the Passover by drinking the Passover cup with His followers when the kingdom comes. Passover not only points us back to Jesus’ death on the cross but it also points us forward to the Second Coming. This is why it’s so important that we continue to celebrate Passover today.
The Apostle Paul explained communion similarly. In 1 Corinthians 11:26, he said, “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” This shows that Passover isn’t just a Jewish tradition but rather a way for Christians to anticipate that Jesus is coming again.
This year Passover starts on Wednesday, April 8, and Jewish people, along with many Christians, around the world will celebrate that evening just as they have for thousands of years. Even if you’re not familiar with Jewish customs, I encourage you to celebrate Passover. This holiday is a great opportunity to begin a meaningful family tradition of remembering Christ’s sacrifice and looking forward to His return.