BY RYAN JONES, TRAVELUJAH—
More and more Christians are celebrating Passover and the other biblical feasts as they become increasingly aware of their own faith’s Jewish background. And more and more of those Christians are choosing to celebrate Passover in the Holy Land.
Doing so is significant for two reasons. First, Passover is a pilgrimage feast. The children of Israel were instructed by God to travel to the “place that He will choose” (Jerusalem) during Passover (Deuteronomy 16). As spiritual descendants of Abraham and co-heirs in the blessings of Israel’s covenants, many argue that it is just as incumbent upon Bible-believing Christians to partake in the pilgrimage feasts. In fact, when addressing the topic of another pilgrimage feast, Succot, the prophet Zechariah suggests that it will one day be mandatory for all believers to participate.
The second reason visiting Jerusalem during Passover is significant for Christians is the tie-in with Easter. It is widely accepted that Jesus’ arrest, interrogation and crucifixion all happened at the start of Passover, and that the “Last Supper” was in fact a Passover Seder. For Christians, this can make a lot of sense, as Passover is all about redemption through the sacrifice of “the lamb.”
Rabbi David Rosen, international director of inter-religious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, agreed in remarks to Travelujah that a deeper understanding of the connections between Judaism and Christianity is essential to a more accurate reading of the Bible and the ministry of Jesus.
“It is not for me to tell Christians what is important, however obviously in order to be knowledgeable about their own religion they should be as knowledgeable as possible about Judaism,” said Rosen.
Rev. Jerry Clark, director of church relations for the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), similarly told us, “More and more Christians around the world are conducting Seder meals in efforts to connect with the Jewish Roots of their faith and by doing so strengthen their Christian walk.”
Clark said that doing so in Jerusalem is a compelling enhancement of that experience.
“To totally understand and grasp the Jewish Roots of Christianity it is important for Christians to observe and participate in a Passover Seder,” said Clark. “To do so in Israel only deepens the bonds between Christians and Jews and helps Christian show their unconditional love and support for the Jewish state of Israel and the Jewish people. To do so in Israel also helps Christians understand the significance of going up to Jerusalem for one the pilgrimage feasts. Doing so in Israel truly makes the Bible come alive and Christians return home with a renewed faith, deeper love for Israel and broadened understanding of the Jewish Roots of their faith.”
For Clark, and many other Christian ministers coming to a similar realization, a Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem is an unparalleled faith-based building block. Clark concluded that the lives of those Christians who can make the trip “will never be the same after a visit to Israel to participate in a Passover Seder.”
If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in Jerusalem during Passover, there are many options for joining a festive Seder. All of the major hotels will hold organized Passover Seders that can be joined for a fee, as will many local churches. Additionally, in the weeks leading up to Passover, it is not unusual to find posters and notices on walls around Jerusalem inviting strangers to celebrate Passover with local Jewish families and charitable organizations. Passover is a time of hospitality towards strangers, and that will be found in abundance during this season in Jerusalem.
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Ryan Jones writes regularly for Travelujah – Holy Land Tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.