“Don’t Pass Out, Passover!”

“Don’t pass out, passover,” is a marketing slogan from a beer company owned by some Jewish guys; their brewery is known as He-Brew (and their beer is actually pretty good).

I’m not sure what all this has to do with a blog post encouraging Christians to celebrate Passover this week, but you have to admit, it is a catchy advertising line!

Actually, I just figured out how to properly work it into this post, so keep reading!

While Scripture does not command Gentile believers to celebrate Passover or the other annual feasts, they are certainly encouraged to do so. After all, the Gentile believers in Yeshua have been “grafted in” to the family of Jewish believers, as the Apostle Paul states in Romans 11. In fact, celebrating the Jewish feasts, especially Passover, serves as a great tool to remind Gentiles of the wonderful Jewish roots of their faith and the awesome symbolism found in the Passover meal that, without question, points to Yeshua, or Jesus, the Messiah.

A quick word on being grafted in. It doesn’t mean you will  suddenly dislike mayonnaise on a sandwich, never eat a hotdog with ketchup (it’s mustard only), know how to deliver a punchline, all at once know the best Yiddish words to describe any situation better than English possibly could, or instantly have an mother who likes to complains to your face but praises you behind your back (“I do it to make you better”). But what it does mean is that spiritually you have become chosen to be part of God’s redemptive plan.

Passover was instituted at a time in Israel’s history when the Lord God moved through Egypt destroying the firstborn of all people and animals (see Exodus 11 and 12.) This was the final of the ten plagues God visited upon Egypt designed to force Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave the country and their captivity. The Israelites were commanded by God to take the blood of a male lamb, one without blemish, and mark it on the doorposts of their houses. When the Lord saw the blood, He would “pass over” that house. This, of course, is a foreshadowing of the spotless and sinless Lamb of God, Jesus, whose blood would cover the sins of those who believe in Him, causing God’s judgment to pass over them. Ever since that night, Jews have celebrated the Passover in remembrance of God’s grace to them.

There has been an exciting explosion of interest in adapting the Passover festival to Christianity. The Passover dinner is known as a “Seder.” Various organizations, such as Jews for Jesus, have long promoted keeping a Passover Seder as a means for Messianic Jews (Jewish people who believe Jesus, or Yeshua, is the Messiah) to retain their cultural heritage while professing their faith in Messiah. Many of the rituals associated with the Seder have direct application to Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection!  Like so many of the original Jewish Feasts established in the Bible, the Passover Feast was a foreshadowing of Messiah’s atonement via death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.

While it is not required for Christians to celebrate the Passover Seder, it is very beneficial to celebrate it. Personally, I believe that by missing out on Passover (and the other festivals), you are really missing out!  The observance leads to a greater understanding and appreciation for Jesus’ death and resurrection and is wonderful picture His deliverance of us from the bondage of sin–something we should be thankful for every day. This is why more and more Gentile followers of Yeshua observe the Holy festivals, eat kosher, and honor the Sabbath (Saturday) to remember the covenant God made with them and to identify with their people.

In the Passover you will discover the four glasses of wine consumed during dinner (be careful, they don’t have to be large glasses, although traditional Orthodox Jews insist the glasses must hold 3.5 ounces!). One is the “cup of suffering,” another is the “cup of redemption.” There is even a incredible portion of this ancient feast whereby we completely gain a new understanding of the Christian communion: the bread from communion is actually unleavened bread from the Seder that is broken during the meal, and consumed afterward, (“This is my body, which is given for you,” Luke 22:19).

And as for the four glasses of wine. If you participate in a Seder this Friday night, “Don’t pass out, passover!”

Look for my podcast on this subject, to be published tomorrow, March 12.

Brian Sussman

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