This is the final of three posts on the Passover Seder, written by Amy Ramseur, a member of our church and volunteer in Children's Ministry. Here is Part I and Part II if you have not yet read them.
Aspecial series of questions are asked by the youngest child at the table. Answers are given and a traditional song is sung, "Dayenu", meaning "it would have been sufficient". All of this was intended to teach the children and remind the adults of the Israelites’ bondage and redemption.
The second cup, the Cup of Praise, is raised and consumed with a toast of thanksgiving to God and the recitation of a portion of the Hallel, which means "praise", Psalm 113 and 114.
What follows next is a prayer of thanksgiving for the bread and the Lord’s commandment to eat it, then a piece of mazto is eaten. Next the host instructs everyone to make a sandwich of sorts, using matzo, the sweet charoseth mixture, and the bitter herbs (horseradish)…this is traditionally called the "sop". It was at this point that Jesus spoke sober words to His disciples, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me…He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped [it]. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave [it] to Judas Iscariot, [the son] of Simon." John 13:21, 26 (KJV).
At this point, the Seder pauses while a banquet is served. Rich foods, from appetizers to desserts – all without leaven – are enjoyed.
Finally, it is time for the search for the aphikomen! Jewish tradition holds that the aphikomen should be the final portion of the meal, in memory of the Passover lamb. In Temple times the roasted lamb was the last to be eaten. Since the destruction of the Temple, sacrifices are no longer a part of Jewish life. But every Jew longs for the Temple to be rebuilt so that the sacrificial system can be restored. And so the aphikomen is eaten as a memorial. To believers, it is eaten as a memorial to the Final Passover Lamb, our Risen Savior!
So the final taste of food in the disciples’ mouths should have been the roasted lamb. However, Jesus, not surprisingly, breaks with tradition. It is at this point that Jesus holds up a piece of matzo, pierced and striped, and breaks it. "Take and eat; this is my body." Matthew 26:26. How fascinating to me is the tradition of the aphikomen that has come to
be in Jewish Seders. It has nothing to do with the Messiah, and yet it points directly to Him in deeply symbolic ways.
Finally, Jesus, as in the ancient Seder as well as in the modern, raises the third cup, known as the Cup of Redemption, offers thanksgiving to God the Father, and tells His disciples, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the many for the forgiveness of sins." Matthew 26:27-28
A fourth cup traditionally follows, called by some the Cup of Elijah. Others refer to it as the Cup of Hope, while some may call it the Cup of Acceptance.
May we accept the Body broken as payment for our sins and the Blood spilled for our redemption. And may we find the Gospel written between the lines of the traditions, ancient and modern, of the Passover Meal. Jesus chose His Father’s ancient ritual, something so familiar to His followers, to help them remember and pass on to generations to come the new covenant He was about to make: He would give His life as a ransom for many and give eternal life to all who believe.
Do this in remembrance of Me.