Early in the year, the Jewish faith celebrates a large holiday called Passover, in which the community comes together to celebrate God’s work in releasing the Israelites from slavery to the Egyptians. This holiday is steeped in biblical history and, like many Jewish holidays, is celebrated with an individual’s intimate faith community or with larger congregations. Many temples and organizations will host seders that are open to the public, allowing those that do not regularly attend temple or profess to be Jewish to experience the holiday and learn of its background.
The first Passover is depicted in Exodus 12 during the last plague that the Lord sent in order to get the Egyptian rulers to release the Israelites from slavery. On this night, families spread lamb’s blood over their doorways to signify that the Angel of Death could pass over their homes, sparing them from the plague of having their firstborn pass away during the night. While this occurred, families were to stay inside and cook a meal of lamb and unleavened bread and spent time in prayer and community with one another. The Lord then commanded His people to celebrate this for generations to come and remember this day of joy and freedom as the Lord worked on their behalf.
“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.” -Exodus 12:14
To honor this request, the Jewish people still celebrate Passover, and it is a tradition widely celebrated both in family homes and in temple settings.
Currently, Passover is most commonly commemorated by the gathering of family and friends for a feast on the eve of the first day and includes readings of the Exodus story and a meal of matzah (a type of unleavened bread), haroset (a mixture of fruit, nuts, wine, and cinnamon), and matzah ball soup, among other things. The entire Passover holiday is celebrated over eight days, and some Jewish people will cease all manual labor during those days in order to more effectively honor that time and reflect on God’s goodness.
Passover is a time of remembrance, of recognizing what God did for the Israelites by bringing them out from under slavery and providing them with the opportunity to experience freedom and joy away from their oppressors.
Christians also celebrate God-given freedom, provided to us by the bloodshed of a Sacrificial Lamb. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed on the cross to pay the debt of our sins, allowing God’s judgement to “pass over” us. Jesus was even Mary and Joseph’s first born, just like the lamb that was slain at Passover had to be a first born. Thus, during the first Passover, God was not only saving the Israelites from the Egyptians and slavery but pointing toward this future act of ultimate sacrifice of His Son.
This is something that we are able to celebrate throughout the year and is a gift that spills out into all aspects of our lives; as we have been set free from our sins, we can know that the Lord is with us as we fight against temptations. And when we do mess up, we have freedom in knowing that we have a loving God who cares for us and gives us room to repent and come to Him. When we fear death, we can have peace in knowing that the Lord gave us the freedom of eternal life through Jesus’ death on a cross.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” -Romans 8:1-2
As Passover approaches and our Jewish friends take the time to reflect on God’s great grace, take some time yourself to recognize the freedom we have in our Savior and the mercy and love that the Lord has poured out upon us. Take time to talk about this with the people around you, and share the news of God’s goodness with others.