What do Jesus and Passover Have in Common?
Jesus (Yeshua) was a Jewish man, raised in a Jewish family. Thus, it is no surprise that He kept each one of the appointed times (moedim) as prescribed in the Torah – God’s Law. We know this for a fact just by reading through the Gospels.
Therefore, we know Jesus celebrated the Jewish holidays.
Because of that, Jesus and Passover are a natural pairing, but this correlation goes way beyond just observing this holiday. Passover became unique among the holidays because of the events with which it coincided.
Getting Invited to the Passover Table
Have you ever dated someone or been in a serious relationship? How do you know that it’s finally going to that next level?
One of the most common signs that a relationship is getting serious is when you are invited to ‘meet the family.’ Or even more consequentially, when you’re invited to attend a holiday meal with the family.
It is a rite of passage to learn what your significant other’s family does for the holidays. Which common traditions do they keep? Which ones have they created for themselves? The exchange of cultural and familial cues that occur during a holiday meal are profound.
Jesus invited His closest friends to join Him at Passover – a holiday that has been intrinsic to His life on earth. This Old Testament feast was in fact prophetic of His life, and Jesus wanted to share that with those He loved. It wasn’t until a few years ago that it dawned on me that Yeshua had an earthly family. And that family had a history and culture.
Jesus, Passover and the Jewish Holidays
There are traditions and holidays that God Himself set in place. Probably very much like you, I love Jesus. But I had never considered that I’ve been cordially and biblically invited to celebrate holidays with Him!
I also had no idea how much more I would learn about my Messiah by celebrating them. As I started to journey through the biblical calendar of feasts and fasts, I experienced an intimacy with my Jewish Savior like I’d never known before.
I will never forget how real and personal He felt to me when I sat down to celebrate my first Passover with Jesus in Israel.
After years of being in love with my Messiah, I was finally “sitting down to dinner with Him”. Everyone around the table was part of His family. In those moments He was not just my Lord seated in Heaven. He was almost tangible, as if He was seated next to me!
When is Passover Celebrated?
Arguably the biggest holiday in the Hebrew calendar, Passover is not just a Jewish tradition. Passover is a God-given altar of remembrance of His saving power over death.
Passover begins on the 14th of Nisan, which is the first month on God’s calendar. Although it is a little-known fact, Passover marks the beginning of the biblical calendar year. In fact, in the Old Testament years were often counted from the liberation from Egypt.
God instituted the feast while the Israelites were still in captivity in Egypt. When God sent the last plague, killing the firstborn of each household, He also introduced the Passover. It is a means of marking the Jewish people as separate from all others.
The LORD caused death to pass over each home that had applied the blood of a sacrificed, unblemished lamb to the doorposts (Ex. 12:1-28). This day was to be kept as a memorial and a feast forever (Ex. 12:14).
Jewish people observe the Passover from generation to generation. In that way, God teaches them to understand that the sacrifice of blood saves from death.
Jesus Revealed in the Passover
So how does Jesus factor into the Passover? He does in several beautiful ways that only God could bring creatively together.
Jesus triumphantly entered into Jerusalem on a donkey on the 10th day of Nisan. This would have been the very same day that the Israelites selected their unblemished lambs for sacrifice four days later (Ex. 12:3-6).
Similarly, Jesus was presented to Israel as being perfect before His sacrifice. He was crucified on the 14th day of Nisan or the beginning of Passover (John 19:14). The sacrifice of the Passover lambs was a device God used to ultimately point to the true and perfect lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19).
The Passover lambs were slain and sacrificed at twilight (Ex. 12:6; Lev. 23:5), and Jesus passed away at about that same time (Matt. 27:45-50).
Messiah’s sinlessness caused His ability to be the ultimate lamb who takes sin away from the world (John 1:29). Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, the Passover lamb that was able to defeat death once and for all (1 Cor. 5:7).
You’re Invited to Jesus’ Passover Table
In the New Covenant, Jesus did something radically new and surprising. He personally invited all believers to join Him at the Passover table. This later became known as “The Lord’s Supper” or simply Last Supper (Luke 22:14-35).
It was at His last Passover meal that Jesus raised the cup and the matzah (unleavened bread) and said, “do this in remembrance of me.” When He said “do this”, He was speaking of the Passover!
Remembering Him in this way was not only His expressed wish. It is a confirmation of the continuity of God’s goodness throughout millennia. Jesus’ blood not only covers the sins of Israel, but the blood of the lamb of God was sufficient to rescue the whole world!
Now that is something to celebrate! Happy Passover!
A Simple Guide Through the Biblical Holidays: Free PDF Download
You may know them as the “Jewish holidays,” but did you know the Bible calls them “Feasts of the LORD”?
We’ve put this guide together for you so that you have all you need to know about these holidays that God calls His own.
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes