Passover is a special holiday celebrated by God’s people around the world.
It has a rich spiritual background and can serve as a wonderful reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us.
But for those who have never heard of Passover or who have never celebrated it, there can be a bit of a learning curve.
So in today’s post, I’m going to share with you what Passover is, what it means, as well as its spiritual significance.
Let’s dive in!
What is Passover and why is it celebrated?
Passover (or Pesach) is a Hebrew holiday commemorating when God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, as well as when He passed over the homes of the Hebrews and spared the firstborn children during the tenth plague.
Because of this, the Passover holiday is celebrated by Jews around the world every year around the time of March or April. During this time, God’s people remember the beautiful deliverance He worked for them and how He saved them!
This Jewish holiday (also called Passover Seder) is a time of grand celebration and lasts several days, with specific ceremonies observed, especially on the first night when families have a Seder meal. Every element of the foods consumed as well as in what order is significant and carefully honored.
But in order to understand Passover’s significance, we must grab our Bibles and do a little reading.
The Passover Story
The story of Passover can be found in the book of Exodus. During this time, the Hebrew people (they would later be known as Jews) were in bondage as slaves in Egypt.
And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. (Exo 2:23)
God heard the desperate cry of His people and so He chose Moses, a Hebrew man raised in the palace by Pharoah’s daughter, to be their deliverer:
“Come now therefore [God told Moses] and I will send thee unto Pharoah, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exo. 3:10)
Moses had a hard task: he had to tell Pharoah to free his people. Of course, Pharoah refused, and so God sent judgments in the form of ten plagues. But Pharoah’s heart was hard. He would not release the Israelite slaves. So God sent a tenth and final plague: death to all the firstborn in Egypt, including the firstborn son of Pharaoh.
And all the firstborn in the land shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. (Exo. 11:5)
However, so that there would be no mistake, God ensured His people would be protected from the plague by giving Moses very specific instructions that all the Hebrews would follow.
The night that this happened was the first Passover.
God told His people to sacrifice a spotless lamb and paint their doorposts with its blood. He also instructed them regarding what food they were to eat – lamb roasted over a fire, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:7-11). He called it – the Lord’s Passover.
When the destroyer came that night, wherever he saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, he passed it over. The Hebrews were spared. And that very night, they were set free from the bitterness of slavery and left Egypt.
But as magnificent as the story of Exodus is, we may still be left wondering what it means to us today.
Let’s keep reading.
The Meaning Of Passover?
God Himself gave this explanation of Passover in Exodus 12:27:
“It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians, and He spared our homes.”
For this reason, the Lord commanded His people to observe this feast day every year (Exodus 12:14). It is a time of remembrance, praising God for the wondrous deliverance He performed.
To this day, Passover is special for Jewish people around the world. There are precious Passover traditions that are carefully observed, symbolic foods eaten, and step-by-step ceremonies performed.
But God, whose heart for redemption and deliverance stretched far beyond anything we could have ever dreamed, had another purpose for Passover.
The Spiritual Significance Of Passover
In many ways, Passover foreshadowed the coming of Christ as the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world.
Consider these parallels:
- The Hebrew people were oppressed and in need of deliverance. So is the entire world oppressed and needing to be delivered (saved) from sin.
- God sent a man (Moses) to deliver the Hebrews from bondage. God would later send Jesus Christ, who is the Son of Man, to deliver any who would believe from the bondage of sin.
- A spotless lamb had to be sacrificed (slain) in order for the people to be saved. Jesus, who is the Lamb of God, holy and without blame, was sacrificed (slain) for our sins and so saved us from death. (1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19)
But it doesn’t stop there.
Consider these extraordinary facts:
- The reason Jesus was in Jerusalem when He was betrayed and crucified was to celebrate Passover - the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- The Last Supper that Jesus shared with His disciples was a Passover meal (Luke 22:7-14).
Are you seeing it?Just hours after sharing a Passover dinner with His disciples, Jesus was betrayed and then crucified. Just like the spotless lamb, His blood was spilled—for us. For you and for me. And because of His sacrifice, we are saved.
What Does Passover Mean To Christianity?
The importance of Passover for Christians today is as simple as this: Jesus is the literal fulfilment of Passover. He is, as Paul said, our Passover Lamb.
“Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)
When we look at Passover as a picture of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we are humbled by the God who foresaw our need for salvation and the Son who fulfilled it. We see, with clearer eyes, what was sacrificed for us. We are overcome with gratitude for the Blood that was shed on our behalf.
Christ in Passover
We also see an illustration of our life in Christ in this passage of 1 Corinthians. We are to be like unleavened bread – untouched by the leaven of the world and filled with the bread of sincerity and truth.For this reason, Passover is and will always be a special reminder to Christians everywhere – not only of what it means but who it represents. And that will always be Christ.
To discover five reasons I believe Christians should celebrate Passover, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about Passover to give you more clarity.
What is Passover in simple terms?
In simple terms, Passover (or Passover Seder) is a Jewish holiday celebrated every year, commemorating when God saved His people from slavery in Egypt and from the plague of death. It is also known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
What is Passover in Judaism?
Jewish history begins in the Old Testament, and this is where we find the first Passover celebrated. Today, Passover (also called Pesach) is one of the most widely celebrated Jewish feast days.
Passover is tied with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. During the seven days of this feast, Jews must only eat unleavened bread (no leavened bread – bread with yeast – may be consumed). Traditions like the seder plate and the seder table, the eating of bitter herbs and the paschal lamb (as well as other Passover foods), all take place during the Passover celebration. Each carries symbolic importance. The bitter herbs, for example, symbolize the bitterness of slavery.
What is Passover in 2023?
This year (2023) Passover begins on Wednesday, April 5th and ends Thursday, April 13th. The first Passover seder dinner happens the evening of April 5th and the second takes place the following day, April 6th.
Now that you know what Passover is and its significance, I will leave you with this beautiful Scripture:
Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1)
Jesus, our precious Passover Lamb, truly loved us to the very end and will love us for all eternity. May we always remember the true meaning of Passover: that Jesus came as a spotless lamb and died to set us free.