The Connection Between Passover and Yeshua: A Messianic Jewish Perspective
Passover begins Saturday and ends April 4, Easter Sunday.
“There is no Christianity without Passover. Jesus is the Passover lamb. So, you can’t separate the two,” said Ron Cantor, the president of Shelanu TV. Shelanu TV is the only 24/7, digital, Hebrew-speaking, gospel television channel in Israel.
For Jewish people, “Passover is one of the most, if not the most, powerful narratives in the entire history of the Jewish people,” he told The Stream. “It celebrates the Jewish people coming out of Egypt after 400 or so years of slavery.” Ron added that “it is important to Jewish people, because without Passover, we would still be slaves in Egypt, or we would all be dead. And it becomes a symbol of God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people, faithfulness to His promises.”
The Lamb of God
Ron, a Messianic Jew who lives in Israel, said the Passover is full of symbolism that points to Jesus as the Messiah. For example, Jewish people in Egypt were told to kill a lamb “without blemish” and brush its blood on their doorposts and the Lord would pass over their house. He would not let the destroyer kill their firstborn sons. (Exodus 12:21-23) Ron said as a believer, Passover takes on greater meaning. As he pointed out, John the Baptist said of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) “And that’s the first time we hear this phrase, ‘Lamb of God,’ in Scripture — Old Testament or New Testament.” Ron believes John was making a connection between Jesus and the Passover lamb. He continued:
And then the blood applied to the doorpost of the house that saved the people. It was the death of Jesus, and then his blood applied, if you will, to the doorpost of our hearts, that brings us eternal life that causes us to escape God’s judgment.
Mitch Glaser, PhD, also a Messianic Jew, is the president of Chosen People Ministries. Chosen People Ministries plants Messianic congregations and uses digital media to reach Jewish people for Jesus. “There’s just so much imagery that pops out in technicolor,” he told The Stream. “[Jesus is] perfect, He’s a perfect lamb. His blood averts the judgment of God.”
Mitch takes it one step further. “So, there’s almost a direct connection with the death of the lamb substituting for the first born. … Jesus is our substitute. We are saved from our sins because of His shed blood. This is why I believe Passover provides a prophetic picture of God’s salvation power unleashed in the lives of the Jewish nation through the lamb in Exodus Chapter 12 and more so for individuals, through the sacrifice of Jesus.”
The Bread of Life
Another symbol that points to Jesus is the Matzah served at the Passover Seder meal. There are three pieces of Matzah. The leader of the ceremony takes the middle one, or the second one. “He then breaks it in half. … It is a piece of unleavened bread with stripes, piercings and bruises — very much like Isaiah 53,” Ron explained.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. — Isaiah 53:5 (RSV)
“So, you get a pierced, bruised and striped piece of unleavened bread. Jesus was without sin or ‘unleavened.’ So, the symbolism is amazing.” Ron said that the leader then places the Matzah in linen, like the body of Jesus, and hides it, “as if in a grave.” At the end of the meal, children look for it.
Mitch also talked about the symbolism of the cups and the Matzah in the Passover ceremony. “We hide the broken piece of wrapped Matzah and at the end of the meal we bring it back. It was at that moment during the Last Supper that Jesus took the Matzah and said, ‘This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ And so, the very elements of communion grow out of the Passover Seder.” For Mitch, Passover also became more meaningful to him after he accepted Christ, “because now I understood that He is the Passover lamb and also the bread of life.”
A Bit Different This Year
Of course, Passover 2021, like last year, will be a bit different than in the years before COVID. In New York, Mitch will be able to gather with only a few family members for the ceremony. But he just filmed a “virtual” Passover for all to attend. It will be held on March 31. Over 4,000 people have already registered.
Ron’s 2020 Passover took place under complete lockdown, but that didn’t stop him or others in his neighborhood from celebrating. In his apartment complex, all of the backs of the apartments face each other. “So, it was neat to see people come out on their balconies last year and singing some of the Passover songs together. So, that was a challenge, but it was also a victory because we found a way to find unity, even in the midst of not being able to be together.”
“The Passover is a very hopeful holiday,” said Mitch. “It ends with a Hebrew song entitled ‘L’Shana Haba’ B’Yerushalayim.’ Translated, that means ‘next year we’ll be in Jerusalem.’ And so, Passover always looks forward to a greater day of redemption. As believers in Jesus, Yeshua the Messiah, we know that the greater salvation has come through the Jewish Messiah and one day He will return to Jerusalem to reign as King!”
He added that Passover can be “a great opportunity” to share the Gospel with Jewish people. “Jewish people, even if they’re not religious, know all about the Passover. And so, it’s a great tool for presenting Jesus in the Jewish way to their Jewish friends.” Ron agreed. “It’s … a wonderful way to share with Jewish people about Yeshua, Jesus.”
To celebrate the virtual Passover on March 31, please go to chosenpeople.com/passoverlive.