BY NICOLE JANSEZIAN, TRAVELUJAH—
Why is this Passover night different from all the rest? Mainly because more and more Christians, both in Israel and overseas, will be partaking in some observance of Passover, a phenomenon that is catching on among many Christians, evangelical and otherwise.
Erev Pesach (Passover Eve) begins at sunset on Monday night in Israel. Jews all across Israel and the world will sit down for the traditional Seder dinner commemorating the miraculous exodus of the Israelites form Egypt. Each year, more Christians join in whether with their Jewish neighbors or at Seder dinners of their own.
Wayne Hilsden, senior pastor of King of Kings Community in Jerusalem, said that Christians have a precedent for observing the Passover: Jesus’ last supper was a Passover Seder with his disciples.
“Celebrating Passover is an enriching experience for every Christian,” Hilsden told Travelujah. “The symbols in the Passover celebration ultimately point to the Messiah. To sever our link with the Old Testament scripture – the root and foundation of our faith – causes Christians to miss out on some very significant spiritual truths.”
Every other year King of Kings hosts a large seder dinner for the entire congregation while the other years congregants gather with smaller groups in homes. They use a range of the traditional order of the meal, the Hagaddah (telling in Hebrew), written by Orthodox Jews to ones written by Messianic believers. Hilsden said that church leaders present the Seder with the belief that “Yeshua (Jesus) is the Passover lamb and his blood has been sprinkled over the doors of our hearts through faith.”
“Prominent churches around the world are awakening to and having Passover Seders,” Hilsden said, adding that observing the feast “will bring a far greater measure of spiritual health and understanding to churches.
Christine Darg, president of Exploits Ministry, has led Passover conferences in Israel and in countries around the Middle East for Christians over the past 14 years.
“We gain a deeper revelation of the principles and precepts of our God by observing the (biblical) feasts, all of which are types and shadows of Messiah,” Darg said. “Every element of the Passover meal and Seder points in some way to Him. The striped and pierced unleavened bread speaks of Him as the sinless one who was pierced and wounded for our sins and sicknesses.”
Darg noted the striking parallels between Passover and Jesus’ death. The process of the Passover sacrifice began in the temple at 9 a.m.; Jesus was bound to his cross at the third hour, 9 a.m. The temple sacrifices continued until the the evening sacrifice at the ninth hour, or 3 p.m., when then the high priest would cry out, “It is finished.” At the ninth hour Jesus also cried from the cross, “It is finished!” as he died.
“The church historically never should have distanced itself from its Hebraic foundations,” Darg told Travelujah. “It is important to commemorate the death and burial of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and to celebrate the resurrection of Yeshua as the first fruits from the dead at the appropriate season, at Pesach, rather than during the pagan spring holiday named after a fertility goddess.”
This doesn’t mean that Christians don’t or shouldn’t also celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Most do observe Easter, but many call the holiday “Resurrection Sunday” instead.
Visiting Israel during Passover is especially unique. Since most Israelis observe the holiday, the days leading up to it are marked by a rush at the supermarkets and massive spring cleaning to get rid of the leaven from one’s home according to the biblical command in Exodus 13 and Deuteronomy 16.
Hilsden said that with the whole country taking part in a Seder in most homes, you can’t help but hear the traditional songs and joy pouring through the open windows and through the walls as families sit around the Passover table. It is a galvanizing moment in the nation.
“You have a sense of participating in something bigger than yourself,” he said. “Any holiday (here) is special. There’s something in the atmosphere that you breathe and you feel. When you come to the Holy City for a holy day, it is just unlike anything you experience in any part of the world.”
Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.