Learn how to host your first Messianic Passover Seder meal with this instructional video and an easy-to-follow Seder meal script.
I sat in my scratchy nylons at a long wooden table. All the other 12-year-olds from my Sunday School class sat in similar plastic chairs along the table.
Together, we dipped a green vegetable into a bowl of salt water and scowled as we briefly tasted it. We winced at the bitterness of horseradish and secretly took an extra scoop of the apple/nut mixture. We raised our glasses of grape juice and broke the flatbread as one.
And then, I forgot all about it.
It was my first glimpse of a Jewish Passover celebration, but because I didn’t see the connection to my Christian faith, it was buried deep in my memories.
Those memories resurfaced a few years ago as I did research on the Passover Seder meal and its deep, metaphorical connections to what Jesus did on the cross and the Messianic Passover Seder meal has now become an important part of our family’s Holy Week celebration.
Jesus celebrates Passover
Matthew, Mark and Luke all refer to the “last supper” as a Passover meal.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.Luke 22:7
John, however, says that this meal took place “just before the Passover festival.” (John 13:1 NIV)
A note in my Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes that the synoptic gospels and John seem to be in conflict as to when the Passover actually took place. Here are two suggestions as to why they’re different:
Jesus held a Passover meal with his disciples one evening early, whether because he would be dead by the next evening or because they followed an existing sectarian calendar…
Others suggest that John is more interested in narrative symbolism than are the Synoptics, and thus skips Jesus’ symbolic interpretation about Passover and narrates Jesus’s death directly as the Passover lamb.NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, p 1849
It seems clear that Jesus did indeed intend for his last meal to be a Passover meal, with all its rich symbolism.
What exactly is that symbolism, you ask? Let’s talk about that.
A Messianic Passover Seder meal
The following are the elements of the Passover Seder meal as Jesus celebrated it, and what they represent:
There are 4 specific cups of wine (or juice) to partake of during the Seder meal. While not specifically mentioned in any Haggadah (Passover liturgy) I found, it seems that the red wine/grape juice might represent the blood of the lamb.
In the famous “This cup is the new covenant in my blood,” statement (Luke 22:20 NIV), Jesus is referring to the third cup of wine.
2. UNLEAVENED BREAD
The Israelites were commanded to eat the first Passover meal standing up, as they were to be prepared to flee Egpyt. They didn’t have time to add yeast to their bread, so the unleavened bread normally eaten at Passover is more like a cracker.
This is the bread that Jesus broke, saying “This is my body given for you.” (Luke 22:19 NIV)
The first Passover lamb died and had its blood placed on the doorframes as a substitute sacrifice for the firstborn son. In Jewish history each family took their Passover lamb to the temple to be sacrificed and roasted that night.
Lamb is no longer eaten at the Jewish Passover Seder meal because they no longer have a temple at which to sacrifice the lambs. This may be the reason there is now a roasted egg on the table.
4. GREEN VEGETABLE (parsley, celery, or sometimes even a potato).
The parsley represents new life, and can also represent the hyssop that the Israelites used to paint the original Passover lamb’s blood on their doorways. The green veggie is dipped in SALT WATER as a reminder of the salty tears the Israelites shed in slavery.
5. BITTER HERBS
Horseradish! This represents the bitterness of slavery.
Traditionally, this is mixture of nuts and apples. It symbolizes the bricks that the Israelites were forced to build out of mud, when they were slaves in Egypt.
For a wonderful summary of what the elements meant to Jesus’ disciples during that fateful Passover meal, watch this interview!
How To Do A Messianic Passover Seder Meal At Home
The Seder (say’-dur) is a series of spoken words and practices that are followed carefully both before and after the festive Passover meal itself.
To have your family Seder meal, you will need the following items:
1) Non-food items: candle and lighter, napkin or paper towel
2) Food items (feel free to add other items to the actual meal portion! This list only covers the ceremonial elements.)
- 3 pieces of unleavened bread (The traditional bread is Matzo. You can purchase Matzo online, or make your own.)
- Red wine or juice
- Bowl of salt water
- Green plant: romaine lettuce, parsley, or celery
- Bitter herbs (horseradish)
- Lamb bone (or a picture of a lamb bone. One year we used a picture on my phone!)
- Charoset/Haroset (Traditionally an apple/walnut mixture. Try this recipe! For a nut-free version, try mixing applesauce with graham cracker chunks)
- Roasted egg (eaten at modern Seder meals instead of actual lamb meat but not actually referenced in the Haggadah, which is like a liturgy)
The Messianic Haggadah
The Haggadah is the actual text that is read or recited during the Seder meal. It’s a way of keeping the format the same across cultures and generations. Essentially, it’s a Seder meal script!
Christians have adapted the Haggadah in numerous ways.
A Messianic Haggadah takes the elements of a traditional Jewish Passover Seder meal and interprets them in view of Jesus’s life and death.
For example, a Messianic Haggadah connects the original Passover lamb to Jesus.
The following is an excerpt from the Messianic Haggadah I’ve been using at home and at church over the past 10 years (and have tweaked several times as I’ve learned more about Passover):
This bone is from a lamb – like the one whose blood on the Israelite houses was a sign to God. God told Moses, “The lamb must be perfect”, so it wasn’t allowed to have any spots or defects.
When it was killed, the Israelites marked their door frames with some of its blood, using the leaves from the hyssop plant. They were to eat the meat that night, along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. God told them to “eat quickly, with your coat ready, your shoes on your feet, and your walking stick in your hand. It is the Lord’s Passover.”
The blood over the door showed that the Israelites were obedient to God, and He promised that when he saw the blood, he would pass over that house and the firstborn children in each house would stay alive. We remember that it is the blood of the lamb that saved the Israelites.
Since Jesus has become our perfect Passover Lamb, no more lambs need to be sacrificed. Lamb meat is no longer eaten at Passover. This bone reminds us of the lamb sacrificed for the Israelites and of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed and crucified, Jesus took the cup of red wine at the Passover table and told his friends to drink it in remembrance of Him. He said that the wine (or red juice) is a symbol of how he gave his lifeblood when he was crucified to save us from our slavery to sin. Let’s drink together to remember Jesus, our Passover lamb.from my Christian Seder Haggadah
In a Messianic Haggadah, many of the elements are re-interpreted in light of Jesus. Again, see the video above for a great explanation of how Christ fulfilled the traditional Passover elements.
“Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7 NLT
Can I do a Christian Passover Meal for Sunday School?
As mentioned in the beginning, I first experienced a Messianic Passover Seder in my sixth grade Sunday School class! You can easily use the Seder meal as an experiential lesson.
In fact, I have used the same Messianic Haggadah for a family-style class on the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, as well as setting it up to celebrate as a church family after our Good Friday church service one year. Because it’s so experiential, even the youngest children will love it. (except maybe the horseradish.)
To do so, simply gather the same ingredients, print off my Messianic Haggadah, and gather the people!
I hope this has answered all your questions about hosting a Messianic Passover Seder! This article has been percolating for 10 years as I have slowly come to a fuller understanding the traditional and Messianic elements of Passover.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.
Let me leave you with the traditional Passover blessing…the same blessing Jesus spoke each year at Passover:
Blessed are You,
Lord our God,
King of the Universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.