The Passover meal is called the Seder. The Seder is a family event, and the table is decorated with flowers, candles and the various Passover elements, including shank of bone of the lamb, unleavened bread called “matzah”, bitter herbs, greens, salt water, hard-boiled egg, a sweet dish called “charoset”, and the four cups of wine. Many people have a special Seder plate with sections, as well as a “matzah tash” a covering for the unleavened bread that has three compartments. A special book called the “Haggadah” is used for the purpose of telling and living out the story of Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The “Seder”, meaning “order”, is the telling of the story!
Yesterday I left off with the Seder plate. Today, I will continue with the things on that plate:
- KARPAS-GREENS: The first item taken from the Seder plate is the karpas or greens, (usually parsley), which is a symbol of life. The parsley is dipped in salt water, a symbol of tears, and eaten, as a reminder of the tears shed by the Israelites while in bondage. The parsley symbolizes hyssop, the plant used to brush the blood of the lamb on the door frames of the Jewish homes at the first Passover.
- BEITZAH-EGG: The hard-boiled egg is on the plate to remind the family that a daily temple sacrifice can no longer be offered because the temple no longer stands. In the very midst of the Passover Seder, the Jewish people are reminded that they have no sacrifice to make them righteous before God.
- MAROR-BITTER HERB: This is usually ground horseradish, and enough is eaten with unleavened bread to bring a tear to the eyes. In order to fully appreciate the sweetness of redemption; the bitterness of slavery must be understood!
- CHAROSET: This is a mixture of chopped apples, chopped nuts, honey, cinnamon, and a little grape wine (kosher for Passover) just for color! This sweet, pasty, brown mixture is symbolic of the mortar the Israelites used to build the bricks in Egypt. The Jews remember that even the most bitter of labor can be sweet when they know freedom is close. This is also a reminder to Christians, that they, too, can find that even in bitter experiences there is sweetness in knowing their Lord’s coming is near!
- SHANK BONE OF THE LAMB: In every Jewish home, on every Seder plate, is a bare shank bone of a lamb. In Exodus, the firstborns of the Israelites were spared from the Angel of Death by brushing the blood of a spotless, innocent lamb to the door frames of their homes. Because of the destruction of the Temple, they no longer can offer sacrifices, the shank bone ( and the hard-boiled egg) are only used as reminders. Christians know Jesus is that perfect Passover Lamb, and when they apply His blood to the doorposts of their heart, they go from slavery of sin into the freedom of being redeemed. As John the Baptist said, when he saw Jesus coming towards him, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29
After the story of Exodus is told by using the Seder plate’s contents, the deliciously prepared meal is served. It is a time to eat and enjoy being together. But, the Passover Seder is not over yet.
- THE SEARCH FOR THE AFIKOMEN: Remember yesterday I said I would explain about the: “The middle piece of matzah (see picture ) is taken out, broken, and half is put back into the bag. The other half is wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden.” The hidden matzah is called the “Afikomen”. After the meal has been eaten by everyone, the leader of the Seder lets the children loose to hunt for the “Afikomen”. The one that is lucky enough to find it is usually rewarded with money or a gift. The leader then breaks it up into pieces and distributes a small piece to everyone. This is one of the traditions that Jewish people don’t really understand, but traditions don’t need to be understood—just followed! The tradition perhaps dates back to the time of Jesus. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Luke 22:19
“For Jesus the Messiah would have taken the middle one of the three pieces of matzah, ..broken it as His body would be broken” (just His body.. as none of His bones were broken),” wrapped half in a linen napkin for burial, hidden it as He would be buried, brought it back as He would be resurrected, and distributed it to everyone seated with Him, as He would distribute His life to all who believe. As He did this, He was conscious that this middle piece of matzah represented His own, spotless body given for the redemption of His people. As the matzah is striped and pierced, His own body would be striped and pierced, and it is by those wounds that we are healed! (Read Isaiah 53:5) This middle piece of matzah, or the Afikomen, is our communion bread.” Taken from a book, “Passover A Time for Redemption” page 8
Tomorrow, we will finish the Passover Seder meal by studying the remaining “cups “. I hope you are enjoying this as much as I am!! God just continues to amaze me over and over again!!