JERUSALEM, Israel – This evening, Israelis (and Jews around the world) will begin the week-long Passover celebration, recounting their ancestors' deliverance from Egyptian slavery.
Their homes have undergone deep cleaning and some are freshly painted. Every vestige of bread products made with yeast (leaven) has been removed from the kitchen. The holiday meal has been prepared and soon the table will be set. The guests will arrive and the papa will take his place at the head of the table.
The Passover Seder is about to begin.
Christians often call the Seder "The Last Supper," picturing it like Leonardo Da Vinci's painting. But on that evening so long ago Yeshua and his disciples would have reclined on pillows around a low, three-sided table.
"When the hour had come, He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, 'With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.'"(Luke 22:14-16)
Resurrection Day (Easter) and Passover are deeply connected.
Of all the biblical feasts, Passover, or Pesach, is uniquely significant for Jews and non-Jews alike. God instructed the Jewish people to retell this story throughout their generations.
"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever." (Exodus 12:14)
Israelis, religious and secular, young and old, gather to retell the story of the exodus from Egypt.
It's a story that never gets old. Its details are rich, recorded in the Torah (first five books of the Bible).
On that fateful night, every Egyptian family, from the poorest to the Pharaoh, mourned the death of its first born. Even the animals weren't spared, as God showed the Egyptians their gods could not protect them.
So what makes this holiday so significant?
The blood of the sacrificed lamb swabbed on the doorposts of their homes saved their first born from certain death. It's a foretelling of the redemption that would take place in Jerusalem some 1,500 years later on a hill outside the city.
The Torah says in Leviticus, "…it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life."
"For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life." (Leviticus 17:11)
The blood atonement is the connection between the Christian celebration of Easter and the Jewish celebration of Passover.
This year, Easter coincides with Passover.
The prophet Isaiah describes what would take place at the cross and why.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6)
Psalm 22 describes the Messiah's suffering and the salvation of Israel.
"I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him and fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
"A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation. They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this." (Psalm 22:22-23; 30-31)
So what does all this say to us in the topsy turvey world we live in? There's hope. His name is Yeshua.