Passover: Redemption Draws Nigh

While living in Budapest, Hungary, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a Passover Seder with a large group of Holocaust survivors. This special group opened my eyes to a deeper message of freedom and redemption.

Sitting with Jewish people who experienced one of the worst atrocities in history, and to see how excited they were to be at that Seder was encouraging. For most, it was their first Seder since they were children, and for a few of them, it might also have been their last. Yet to experience and celebrate with them not only our liberation from Egypt, but their deliverance from the Holocaust, made the message of redemption during this season very real.

Pesach (Hebrew for Passover), recounts G-d’s deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt approximately 3,300 years ago. The Passover week actually includes three separate, yet connected holidays – Pesach (only the first night), Chag HaMatzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread), and Yom HaBikkurim (the Feast of First Fruits and Resurrection). Passover has remained a distinct identity marker of the Jewish people throughout years of dispersion and turmoil, and remains one of the most widely observed Jewish practices.

Pesach, as did all the Biblical festivals, played an enormous role within the life of Yeshua and his followers. There are over 28 references to the observance of Passover within the New Testament alone. By the time of Yeshua, a whole order of service had been developed surrounding the covenant meal, called a Seder, where, according to the Biblical text, lamb is commanded to be eaten along with matzah and maror (bitter herbs). As many of us are already aware, the Seder is the context for Yeshua’s last covenant meal (often called the Last Supper) shared with his disciples before his death.

Yeshua is the fulfillment of the unblemished Passover lamb. The Biblical text is clear that human kind can never atone for itself. Only a blood covering can atone for sin. That was the role of the sacrificial system – to make atonement for our shortcomings. The blood of the Passover lamb was placed on the door-posts, which caused death to “passed over” the homes of the Israelites. Through the sacrifice of Yeshua, death in our lives is “passed over” once and for all.

Our sages teach us that in every generation we should celebrate Passover as though we ourselves are personally being delivered from Egypt. For within Jewish understanding, “Egypt” represents more than just a geographical place on a map. The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim, which is related to the word maytzorim, meaning boundaries and limitations. As such, to be “redeemed from Egypt” is to overcome and be redeemed from those natural limitations that impede the realization of our fullest potential. Passover is our opportunity for redemption!

This “Festival of Freedom” is one all of us can benefit from – Jews and non-Jews alike. And I pray that it should be so for all of us. Freedom to think beyond ourselves … to not take who we are, and what we have for granted. Freedom to think on a larger scale and have a bigger vision for what G-d wants to do in our lives and in our congregations. G-d is only as limited as we make Him in our lives. Be encouraged in this Passover season, for redemption draws nigh!

Chag Pesach Sameach – Have a wonderful and Happy Passover!

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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3 Responses to Passover: Redemption Draws Nigh

  1. Netzer Chosid says:

    Yinon,"Yeshua is the fulfillment of the unblemished Passover lamb whose blood atones for the people of Israel."Curious, how do you know that the Korban Pesach atones for sin? I have learned it to be a Shlomim. I was wont to take all the references in the B"C to the Lamb of God as being passover references, until this year, studying the Korbanot.Even those verses referencing the slain lamb in Revelations seems to be the Chatat. What do you think?

  2. Rabbi Joshua says:

    Netzer Chosid-Thanks for the comment and question. I originally wrote this a couple years ago, and due to your question went back and clarified that paragraph a little better (although even I am not completely happy with it).The way I understand it, the Korban Pesach is unique of all the korbanot. As you mentioned, it is common within the Jewish world to put it in the shlemim category. And Christians tend to understand it clearly as a sin offering (chatat). However, I see the Korban Pesach as not nicely fitting into either category. As a precursor to the korbanot as listed in the Torah, this unique korban is intrinsically tied to the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt – with its own spiritual understandings, and yet also carries a little of both nuances. However, I would agree with you that it is important not to place too much emphasis on the Korban Pesach atoning for sin. For that was not its specific purpose. The B"Ch clearly connect Yeshua with the Pesach lamb, and his death and crucifixion in the context of Peach. Yet, it is now important to read all of that story in greater context. There is actually still much more mature thought that needs to go into understanding that connection and illustration of Yeshua and Pesach. Chag Pesach Sameach!

  3. פולוס עבד ישוע ✡ says:

    Chag Sameach Pesach! I liked very much on the blog on ינון, Yinon, one of the names of Mashiach. I am contributing with this topic of my blog: Searching the afikoman פולוס עבד ישוע

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