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The celebration of Passover is in remembrance of the time in Israel's history when the Lord moved through Egypt destroying the firstborn of all people and animals (see Exodus 11 and 12.) This was t...
As is usual Houdmann's Answer is very good. I would readily agree that although it is not necessary for non-Jewish Christians to celebrate the Passover, it is very beneficial if the teaching finds its fulfillment in Christ's atoning death. I have been celebrating the Passover with my family for about 10 years and it has become a fantastic time of reflection and understanding of all the ways Yeshua was foreshadowed in very specific ways. Because most of us have grown up in a different culture, we can misunderstand, or overlook some of the rich meaning the original Scriptures show us. I might mention one of the most obvious things is that Yeshua was celebrating the feast of Passover during the Last supper. When He took the bread and wine, essentially He was declaring that He was fulfilling this part of the feast, the middle matza (unleavened bread) which was broken and hidden (His body crucified and placed in a tomb), and the 'cup of redemption' which thanked God for saving His people. The main emphasis of Passover was to "Remember" what God had done, and was yet to do. Yeshua was clearly not instituting a new ritual, but telling them to remember that He was the fulfillment of the feast that was already celebrated. Basically the wording was such that "when you do this (celebrate Passover) do it in remembrance of me". While it is not essential to celebrate Passover or Communion in a specific way today, we have lost some of the rich beauty, symbolism, and understanding that the original Apostles, as Jews, would have surely understood. Of course all of us should often remember and meditate on the the spotless Lamb of God, Christ, whose death saves us from our sins!
We do celebrate the Passover in our celebration of the Lord's Supper, or Communion, on each first day of the week. We celebrate the shedding of the blood of the Lamb so that we do not stand in condemnation before God as did the Hebrews on that first Passover night in Egypt.
Ezekiel 45:21 prophesys that all nations will keep the Passover along with all the Biblically commanded Feasts. Some today think Passover is a "Jewish" feast like Purim or Hannakah -- it is not. God gave it to Jews AND Gentiles (Exodus 12:49, and others). Zechariah 14:1,9,14-16 shows us that AFTER Christ sets up His kingdom that even THE HEATHEN will be required to keep God's commanded festivals. Some Christians obey today. But most Christians prefer pagan Roman festivals to those of the Bible. But when Christ comes, ALL will obey God in that day.
It is worth noting, in Lk 22:16, Christ Himself implies He will partake of the Passover in the future: Lk 22:16 (NIV) For I tell you, I will not eat it [the Passover] again UNTIL [emphasis added] it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." Moreover, Ezekiel 45:21 likewise seems to say Passover WILL be observed during Christ's Millennial reign: Ezekiel 45:21 (NASB) "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. 22 On that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering."
Yes! God tells us to so what other discussion is needed? In D'varim 11.26-27 (Deuteronomy) God gives us two choices, to follow Him and obey His commandments or to not follow Him and go after other Gods. There is no other choice. We can't make up a third choice of following Him but not doing the commandments. That is not a choice He provides. Deut 12:32 says “Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it." This is followed by a discussion of false prophets. This is why Yeshua said clearly in Matthew 5 “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to establish. Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. So whoever disobeys the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But whoever obeys them and so teaches will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven." He was establishing that he was not a false prophet. He was upholding the Torah. He kept Passover. If we are in Him we should live as Yeshua lived.
At least in my thinking, this should not be a controversial issue among Christians. The question, "Should Christians celebrate Passover" may not even be a valid question. Christians, in fact, "do" celebrate Passover every time we celebrate Communion. Through the Lord's Supper we celebrate the ultimate Passover. The Jewish Passover meal and liturgy had two primary objectives; first, it reminded the Jewish people of what God had done for them in delivering them from physical slavery in Egypt. Second, it pointed to what God would someday do for them in delivering them from spiritual slavery to sin. Every element of the Passover pointed symbolically and typologically to God's ultimate delivery of His people through His Messiah, the spotless Lamb of God. In the upper room on the night before His death Jesus joined with His disciples to celebrate the Passover one more time. In the midst of that traditional celebration, Jesus departed from tradition and changed the liturgy, the symbolism, and the typology of the Passover elements. Instead of reminding them of physical deliverance from slavery in the past and pointing to spiritual delivery in the future, the elements would, from now on, represent His body and His blood in remembrance of Him. This must have been stunning to His thoroughly Jewish disciples. The Passover was a centerpiece of the Jewish system of worship, the most sacred and cherished of all their recurring celebrations. Any departure from the prescribed format and liturgy was unthinkable. And yet they apparently realized that Jesus, among all people, had the authority and right to change tradition. He alone could change what God had prescribed because He, in fact, was the One who had made that prescription in the first place. In an act of progressive revelation, He upgraded the ritual to match the new reality that all the Old Testament requirements were complete in Him. Jesus did not eliminate the Passover celebration, He changed it. He upgraded it to match the new and better covenant that would be ratified by His death. What we generally call Communion, The Lord's Supper, or the Eucharist is a better celebration for better a deliverance. Since He was the ultimate Passover Lamb to which all others pointed, we now partake in Communion in order to look back to (remember) our ultimate deliverance accomplished once for all by His sacrifice. In Him, every aspect of the Jewish Passover is perfectly fulfilled. So, Christians today do not celebrate the Passover in the old traditions of the nation of Israel. We celebrate the Passover in a new and better way prescribed by our Lord on the night of His betrayal. Just as circumcision (the sign and seal of the Old Covenant) was replaced by baptism (the sign and seal of the New Covenant), so also has the Jewish Passover celebration been replaced (changed, upgraded) by the institution of the Eucharist by our Lord Jesus Christ. To return exclusively to the old (Jewish) manner of celebrating the Passover would be to deny the efficacy of the sacrificial death of Christ and to disobey His command to "do this in remembrance of me." However, to celebrate the Jewish Passover purely as a means of learning the history, traditions, symbolism and typology would probably be beneficial as long as Communion is also celebrated separately and remains our primary focus. Remembering and celebrating the Jewish exodus from Egypt is not nearly as important to Christians as remembering and celebrating our deliverance from sin, the world and the wrath of God through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There has been some controversy in the validity of the Passover observance for Christians. Some refer to this as the Lord's Supper, others use the term "Passover." For some, the term "Passover" is an ancient term that has no relevance for the Church today. What is the truth in this matter? What do the scriptures tell us? The term "Passover," as used in scripture has more than one meaning. It can be used to describe anyone of the following: 1. The entire spring Festival season [Passover and Unleavened Bread]. Luke 2:41-43, John 2:23, Acts 12:3-4 2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread [Luke 22:1]. In his Gospel, Luke used the term "Passover" to apply to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 3. The 14th day of the first month - Abib 14 - at its appointed time. [Lev 23:5-6, Num 9:2-3] 4. The 14th day of the 2nd month - the 2nd Passover [Num 9:10-12] 5. The Passover lamb or kid killed or sacrificed on Abib14. [Ex 12:27, 2 Chron 35:1] "Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed" [Luke 22:7]. The 14th of Abib became known as a day of unleavened bread. The 14th is the day the Jews remove all leaven from their homes. 6. The roasted Passover lamb or kid eaten during the meal [Ex 12:8,43-46]. In the New Testament account of Christ's last evening, there is a reference to eating the "Passover" - even though there is no lamb or kid mentioned in the account [Luke 22:11, Matt 26:19]. 7. Christ is called "our Passover." "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" [1 Cor 5:7]. This usage becomes clearly the predominant intent in the New Testament. When the New Testament Church observe the Passover, it was to celebrate the death of Christ. The fact that Christ is our Passover and the symbolism of both the sacrificed lambs of the Old Testament and the bread and wine of the New Testament are reminders of his death - is very significant in understanding the reason why more details concerning the Passover observance are not present in the New Testament. The fact that the earlier and later symbolic aspects of the Passover portray Christ's sacrifice, strongly indicates that the Apostles regarded the observance of the Passover in the New Testament as simply the perpetuation of the Old Testament Passover, except for the modifications that Christ personally instituted. We know that the New Testament Church continue to observe the Passover after Christ's death, but with new meaning. Christ is our "Passover" as stated in 1 Cor 5:7 and we do not need a lamb to sacrifice. This is a major key to understanding how the Passover should be observed under the new covenant. If we truly believed that Christ is our Passover, then we should follow His instructions for the observance of the memorial to His suffering and death. On the night when Christ was betrayed, He instituted the symbols of the bread and wine [Luke 22:14-20]. It is through this symbols that we focus on Christ as our Passover. He also set us an example to follow regarding washing one another's feet [John 13:15]. Paul wrote to the Corinthians "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same manner He took the cup after supper, saying, 'this cup is the new covenant in my blood. This do, as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes." [1Cor.11:23-26] The early Church observed the ceremony on an annual basis, it was a memorial of the death of Christ "till He comes." The emphasis is on his death and suffering which occurred on the 14th of Abib - the night before he died. [Excerpt, doctrinal paper,UCG,1997]
The short answer is “yes,” Christians should celebrate Passover. After all, Paul explicitly tells us to in 1 Cor. 5:8. He says, “Let us therefore celebrate the festival…” and then he goes on to tell us how to celebrate it. But the point I am making is that he actually TELLS us to keep it. Whoever says that the NT doesn't command Gentile believers to keep parts of the Torah (Law) has obviously missed this verse. Granted, the Passover as Traditional Judaism observes it down through the ages misses the Messiah, and thus does not have to simply become the default model for our own Messianic Passover observances. We can and should borrow traditions from Judaism that honor HaShem (God) and uphold his laws, but we must be careful to always take our final orders from the Master and the Apostolic Scriptures. This means our Torah observance is going to necessarily differ from Traditional Judaic Torah observance because we follow the True Rabbi named Yeshua (Jesus). When in doubt, side with Scripture instead of with tradition. Don't just do something just because it is Jewish. Besides, I believe the current LORD’s Supper is in fact a “mini Passover.” If my postulation is true, then (albeit in drastically reduced form) most Christians are already celebrating the Passover! They simply don't know they are celebrating the Passover. To be sure, Yeshua’s last supper with his disciples was a “fusion” of the traditional Passover with the institution of the LORD’s Supper, right? Communion didn't replace Passover, or else Paul’s instructions about celebrating the festival would make nonsense. Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles are expected to incorporate the LORD’s Supper into the Mosaic Passover in order to highlight what our Savior did for us on the cross. As Jews and Gentiles, Passover celebrates our freedom from Egypt (remember there was a mixed multitude that came out of Egypt…(Ex. 12:38) …mixed in terms of ethnicities). The death of the lamb secured their escape from the Death Angel and their escape from Egypt. All then came to the foot of Sinai and were declared to be “Isra'el” by God (Ex. 19:1-6). The exodus from Egypt as such forms the antecedent theology to understand that each one of us was set free from our own personal Egypt of sin and shame. Since the LORD’s Supper celebrates the death (not his resurrection) of the Spotless Lamb, read Matt. 26:28 and 1 Cor. 11:26, and since Gentiles are grafted into Remnant Isra'el to take their place alongside believing Jews, it only makes sense to put the Torah Passover and the LORD’s Supper together as Paul no doubt did for his 1st century communities.
The bible says pass over, that is killing of lambs is no longer necessary because Jesus Christ is the last and foever lamb that we should celebrate since on the day of the pass over he had a last supper with the disciples with bread and wine and commanded them to do this in his remembrance. Therefore Christians can boldly approach God in atonement in this manner. [Ex. 12; Luke 22:14-19]
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