After my sermon Sunday morning, I received several requests to revisit the steps of the Jewish Passover in this week’s family article, so here it is. Passover in the time of Christ required the preparation of six elements:
#1 — The Unleavened Bread — When they left Egypt, they left in haste, “taking their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.” (Exodus 12:34)
#2 — A Bowl of Salt Water — This was to remind them of the tears they shed while in bondage, and also to remind them of the waters of the Red Sea through which God had brought them on dry land.
#3 — A Collection of Bitter Herbs — (Horseradish, Celery, Parsley) These were to be eaten with the Passover meal (Exodus 12:8) to remind them of the bitter experience they had endured as slaves.
#4 — “Charosheth” (or: “Haroseth”) — This was fruit paste/sauce made of apples, dates, pomegranates, and nuts; running through it were sticks of cinnamon. This was to remind them of the clay with which they had made bricks in Egypt, and the cinnamon was to remind them of the straw added to the clay.
#5 — Four Cups of Wine – They would drink one of four cups of wine at different points during the Passover meal, which symbolized the four promises of Exodus 6:6-7.
#6 — The Passover Lamb — It was to be a year old male without blemish (Exod. 12:5; Lev. 22:17-25). It was sacrificed in the temple by the priests and then brought back home and roasted over the fire.
Following are the steps of the Passover meal:
Step #1 — They would drink from the first cup of wine, the cup of “Kiddush” or Consecration, and then they would pray a prayer of thanksgiving to God for fulfilling His promise to deliver Israel from bondage (Exodus 6:6b — “I will bring you out. . .”)
Step #2 — The person presiding over the feast would then wash his hands three times.
Step #3 — Some of the bitter herbs (horseradish, lettuce, parsley) were taken and dipped in the salt water and eaten. This represented the hyssop which was dipped in the blood of the lamb, and with which the lintel and the doorposts were smeared (Exodus 12:22).
Step #4 — Three cakes of unleavened bread were on the table in front of the host. He took the center one and broke it into little pieces. This bread “was broken into little pieces to remind them that a slave never had a whole loaf, but only fragments to eat” (Barclay, p. 22).
Step #5 — It was the duty of the host/father, at this point, to explain to his family the meaning of the Passover meal (Exodus 13:8). The youngest capable child would ask the father to tell the story.
Step #6 — At this time the first parts of the Hallel (Psalms 113 & 114) were sung as praise unto God. The Hallel consists of Psalms 113 through 118.
Step #7 – They drank the second cup of wine, the cup of Judgment or Deliverance, corresponding to Exodus 6:6c – “I will deliver you from their bondage. . .”
Step #8 — It was now time for the meal itself to begin, so at this point all those who were going to be eating the meal washed their hands.
Step #9 — After the saying of a prayer, the small pieces of the unleavened bread were distributed to those present who then ate them along with some more of the bitter herbs.
Step #10 — Some of the bitter herbs were taken and placed between two pieces of unleavened bread. This was dipped into the fruit sauce (the “Charosheth”) and then eaten. (It was this part of the meal that Jesus was referring to in Matthew 26:23; Mark 14:20; John 13:26.)
Step #11 — The rest of the meal with the lamb was consumed by those present, of which none was to be left over. Anything that remained had to be burned before dawn as it was a sanctified meal.
Step #12 — At the conclusion of the meal the hands were again washed (this was a ceremonial cleansing of the hands), and the remainder of the Passover bread was brought out and eaten.
Step #13 — There followed a long prayer of thanksgiving for the meal, which even to this present day contains a petition to God to send Elijah as the herald of the Messiah.
Step #14 — Following this prayer, they drank the third cup, the cup of Redemption. It corresponds to Exodus 6:6d – “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm. . .”
Step #15 — The second part of the Hallel was now sung (Psalms 115 – 118), followed by “The Great Hallel” (Psalm 136).
Step #16 — Then came the drinking of the fourth cup, the cup of Restoration or Consummation, which corresponds to Exodus 6:7 – “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.”
Steps 12-16 were the steps Jesus used to institute the Lord’s Supper. He took the bread, He blessed it, and then broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying “Take, eat, this is My body.” (Matt 26:26, Steps 12-13) Then He took the Cup of Redemption, gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:27-28, Step 14) Then He told them He would not drink the final cup with them (The Cup of Consummation, Step #16) “until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Thus, they closed with Step #15: they sang a hymn and went out (Matt 26:30).