The Passover (part 3)

The Seder Plate

Introduction
In modern Judaism there are 15 steps in the Passover Seder. By studying these steps we can find out id Jesus celebrated the Passover Seder during what is known as ‘The Last Supper.’ 

Seder Plate
Step 1: Kaddesh and the first cup of wine. This cup is known as the ‘cup of sanctification.’ Before the wine is drunk the following prayer is recited … “Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.”

Step 2: U-r’chatz (the washing of hands).

Step 3: Karpas (Parsley or green herbs). Green vegetables are dipped into salt water and eaten (see John 13:26-27). The oldest person in the room would sit on the left and dip the sop. This probably infers that Judas was the oldest disciple. The youngest would sit on the right. Was John the youngest disciple?

Step 4: Yachatz (breaking of bread). Three pieces of bread (matzot) are present on the table, being symbolic of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The middle piece, known as the ‘Afikomen, or that which is to come,’ is taken and broken in two, symbolic of the death of Jesus Christ. The largest piece is then wrapped in a cloth, symbolic of Christ’s burial), it is unwrapped at the end of the meal and eaten, symbolic of Christ’s Resurrection). See Luke 22:19.

Step 5: Maggid (the telling of the Exodus story). This step concludes with a cup of wine known as ‘the cup of wrath.’ Commentators see the Lord Jesus Christ partaking of this cup in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42-44). The Exodus story is all about redemption.

Step 6: Rachtzah (washing of hands while a blessing is pronounced).

Step 7: Motzi (the blessing of the bread). “Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who bringeth forth bread from the earth.” This is seen as a prophecy regarding Christ’s Resurrection.

Step 8: Matzah (the bread is blessed and eaten). In John 13:23 we find the disciples leaning or reclining. This obviously reveals that they, at this point, had no fear, but felt free.

Step 9: Maror (bitter herbs blessed and eaten).

Step 10: Korech (both the bread and herbs are eaten together).

Step 11: Shulchan (the meal is eaten).

Step 12: Tzafun (the hidden piece of bread is unwrapped and eaten). 

Step 13: Barech (grace after the meal).

Step 14: Hallel. Psalms 115, 116, 117 and 118 are sung. A fourth cup is filled with wine, and the door is opened for Elijah so that he can announce the coming of the Messiah.

Step 15: Nirtzah (it is finished). A hymn is sung entitled ‘Next Year in Jerusalem.’ Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn too (Matthew 26:30).

Lamb or Shankbone?

If for some reason a family could not come to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, they were allowed to have a substitute for the lamb, since they were not permitted to sacrifice a lamb themselves. On shankbone would be placed on the Seder plate. This is exactly what Jews do today. The Hebrew word for shankbone is ‘zeroah and literally means ‘arm.’ In Isaiah 53:1 we read about ‘the arm of the Lord’, where the same Hebrew word is used.

At the Last Supper no mention is made of a lamb, since Jesus was the Lamb ready to be sacrificed (Luke 22:15). It is very likely that Jesus and the disciples had a Seder instead.

Conclusion

From our three week study on the Passover we have learned that God instituted it to symbolically educate the Jews regarding the coming of the Messiah. Each part of the celebration prophetically speaks of some part of His life, death and resurrection. The Passover highlights the need for personal salvation, for it is the feast of freedom.

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