Passover

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On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. —Leviticus 23:5

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. —1 Corinthians 11:23-26

OBJECTIVE

To teach that the Festival of Passover is a memorial of God’s deliverance of His people from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Note to parents

We encourage you to read through this material with your children to provide an overview of the meaning of the Feast of Passover and what it pictures. Then choose appropriate materials from the supplemental pages that you feel will be helpful in teaching and reinforcing the meaning of the day.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FESTIVAL

Passover, the first of seven annual festivals occurring during three separate seasons within the year, initiates God’s unfolding and fulfilling of His purpose, plan and promises for humanity. This first, vital step in God’s master plan commemorates the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ.

After nine miraculous plagues had served to harden Pharaoh’s heart, the devastating final plague passed through Egypt at midnight.

In Exodus 12, God provided detailed instructions to ancient Israel about this festival’s observance at the beginning of the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight. After nine miraculous plagues had served to harden Pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 4:21),  the devastating final plague passed through Egypt at midnight, causing the death of Egypt’s firstborn. Foreshadowing the prophesied death of Jesus Christ, the children of Israel killed the Passover lamb and sheltered under its shed blood. In fulfillment of His promised mercy, God passed over the homes that had the visible sign of the Passover sacrifice—the lamb’s blood—brushed on the lintel and doorposts.

Although observed for generations as a memorial of the saving of Israel’s firstborn, Passover also foreshadowed the time when the true, perfect Lamb of God would be sacrificed, revealing the much greater and deeper meaning of the symbolism of the sacrificed, unblemished, male lamb and the significance of this festival (1 Corinthians 5:7).  It was through the actions recorded in Exodus 12 that the ancient Israelites symbolically rehearsed the depiction of the prophesied sacrifice of the Lamb of God who would pay the penalty for our sins (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Desiring to bring“many sons to glory” within His family, the Father sent the Word to proclaim the gospel and to redeem humanity from certain eternal death.

Since “all have sinned and fall short” (Romans 3:23),  we have all rightly earned the sentence of eternal death (6:23).  Without the pardoning of our sins, we are completely cut off from the Father and the gift of eternal life. Desiring to bring “many sons to glory” within His family (Hebrews 2:10),  the Father sent the Word to proclaim the gospel and to redeem humanity from certain eternal death (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-11).

Jesus Christ—God manifested in the flesh—willingly emptied Himself of all life, spiritual and physical, that we might claim Him as our Passover sacrifice and allow His death to pay the penalty for our sins. The very One who created physical man became the perfect and complete atoning sacrifice for all humanity.

Taking upon Himself the sins of the world, Jesus Christ provided the way for humanity to become a perfect, spiritual creation. We are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus Christ and have access to eternal life through His resurrection. Christ is the “author and finisher” of our salvation (Hebrews 12:2).

These new symbols were given to help us solemnly remember the true Passover Lamb.

The evening prior to His crucifixion while Jesus Christ was keeping the Passover with His disciples, He introduced new symbols and provided specific instructions for the New Testament Passover observance. These new symbols were given to help us solemnly remember the true Passover Lamb. It is through the annual observance of and participation in this highly significant ceremony that we are reminded of both the suffering and death of our Savior.

The Feast of Passover demonstrates our urgent need to have our sins forgiven so we can live a life of righteousness.

Passover is a memorial. Just as Israel was sheltered under the protection of the Passover sacrifice’s blood, we are protected under the blood of Christ. As faithful followers of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we observe the Passover in remembrance of Him. The Feast of Passover demonstrates our urgent need to have our sins forgiven so we can live a life of righteousness.

SCRIPTURE DISCUSSION POINTS

You can use the following guided discussion topics to stimulate dialogue about the Festival of Passover. When reading and discussing the events surrounding Christ’s crucifixion, be mindful of the maturity level of your children. Young children will not necessarily need all of this information during their early years.

Feast of Passover observance commanded

Passover to be observed in the first month (Deuteronomy 16:1)

  • Explain that Israel did not have a thorough knowledge of God’s calendar, so God through Moses explained when the first month begins (Exodus 12:1-2).
  • Explain the difference between the calendar we use today and the biblical calendar.

Fourteenth day of the first month (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:2-5; 28:16)

  • Highlight the fact that Passover is not an annual Sabbath, so a “holy convocation” is not commanded.
  • Emphasize that even though Passover is not a holy day, God has provided clear instructions regarding the observance of this highly significant festival.
  • Explain the difference between a festival and a holy day. Discuss how the Festival of Unleavened Bread and the Festival of Tabernacles both contain days that are not holy days. We must carefully follow the clear instructions God has provided regarding any day’s observance—whether a holy day or not.
  • Emphasize that we observe God’s festivals (Leviticus 23:1-2)  and must yield ourselves to following His directions. We can neither alter nor disregard any of God’s divine instructions (Deuteronomy 4:2).  

Throughout these four days, the lamb would have been spoken about often and not neglected.

Passover observance of Exodus 12

Passover lamb chosen on the tenth day of the first month (verses 3, 21)

  • Explain that the lamb was carefully chosen. Each head of household had to thoroughly examine the lamb.
  • Point out that this lamb was to be set apart from all other animals.
  • Discuss the special care that a family would have extended to this lamb. Experiencing and witnessing God’s miraculous power throughout the previous weeks, the Israelites would have been very mindful of God’s instructions. Throughout these four days (verse 6),  the lamb would have been spoken about often and not neglected.
  • Discuss that the four-day period would have ensured that all was prepared in advance.

Requirements of the lamb (verse 5)

  • Explain that “lamb” could refer to either a sheep or a goat. Both were acceptable.
  • Discuss the special instructions that God required:
    • The lamb was to be without blemish.
    • The lamb was to be male.
    • The lamb was to be less than one year old. 

Fourteenth day in the evening (verses 6, 21)

  • Explain that the Passover sacrifice was to be killed at twilight. The Hebrew word used means “between the two evenings”  (Numbers 9:2-3; Deuteronomy 16:6).
  • Explain that “between the two evenings” means the time of twilight at the end of the 13th day after sunset but before complete darkness at the beginning of the 14th day.
  • Explain that God created each day to begin in the evening (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).

Explain that the Israelites were to place the lamb’s blood from the Passover sacrifice around the door of the house.

 Blood on two doorposts and lintel (verses 7, 13, 22)

  • Explain that the Israelites were to place the lamb’s blood from the Passover sacrifice around the door of the house where they would eat the Passover sacrifice.
  • Explain that the blood of the sacrificed Passover lamb delivered the firstborn Israelites from death. The blood was a sign of protection from the death sentence God had issued against the firstborn Egyptians.
  • Explain that the original “pass over” (sparing the life of the firstborn Israelites) occurred at midnight (Exodus 12:29).

The Passover sacrifice was to be eaten with unleavened bread because it foreshadowed Jesus Christ, our Passover.

“Eat the flesh on that night” (verse 8)

  • Emphasize that the Passover sacrifice was to be consumed on the same night that it was slaughtered—on the fourteenth day of the first month. Remember God established the definition of a day as sunset to sunset (Leviticus 23:32).
  • Explain that the killing of the Passover sacrifice occurred 24 hours prior to the keeping of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Numbers 28:16-17).
  • Explain that the Passover sacrifice was to be eaten with unleavened bread because it foreshadowed Jesus Christ, our Passover, who was free of sin and therefore spiritually “unleavened.”

Roasted in fire and burned with fire (verses 9-10)

  • Emphasize that God provided very clear instruction as to how the Passover sacrifice was to be handled.
  • Explain that all remaining vestiges of the lamb, edible or not, were to be burned with fire by the morning. Remember each household was to consider the necessary portion needed for their family (verse 4).
  • Emphasize that no bones were to be broken during any aspect of the handling of the Passover sacrifice (verse 46).

The Israelites were not permitted to leave their homes during the night of the 14th. They remained in their homes until morning.

Eaten while prepared to leave (verse 11)

  • Emphasize that although the Israelites were to eat the Passover sacrifice prepared to leave, they did not leave Egypt that same night. They needed to be willing and ready to leave when instructed to do so. In the morning, the Egyptians urged them to leave. They spent the daylight portion of the 14th plundering the Egyptians (verses 33-36).
  • Explain that the Israelites were not permitted to leave their homes during the night of the 14th (verse 22). . They remained in their homes until morning.
  • Explain that Moses and Aaron did not leave their home until morning either, even though Pharaoh sent word during the night for Israel to leave Egypt (verse 31).  Moses would never see Pharaoh’s face again, fulfilling his earlier prophecy (Exodus 10:28-29).

Discuss the enormous impact this final plague had on the Egyptians: “ There was not a house where there was not one dead.”

Death of the firstborn of man and beast (verses 12-13, 23, 29-30)

  • Emphasize that the Lord passed through Egypt in judgment and passed over Israel in mercy. Israel did not earn God’s protection; God granted mercy to them to demonstrate that He alone is God (Romans 9:14-18).
  • Explain that the blood of the Passover sacrifice served as a protective sign (verse 13).
  • Observe how a dog will bark at the slightest noise. Yet by God’s tremendous power, He did not even allow the dogs to bark at the Israelites, despite all that occurred. Consider the absolute silence and stillness in the land of Goshen (Exodus 11:7).  Contrast that with the sounds of grief coming from Egypt (11:6).
  • Explain that God raised up Pharaoh and the Egyptians to be witnesses to testify to His greatness (Exodus 9:15-16).
  • Discuss the enormous impact this final plague had on the Egyptians: “There was not a house where there was not one dead” (verse 30).  Who are the firstborn individuals in your family? Which are the firstborn animals?

Explain the first nine plagues were a direct strike against the pagan gods of the Egyptians.

“Against all the gods of Egypt” (verse 12)

  • Review the first nine plagues (Exodus 7-10). Identify when God made the separation between the Egyptians and the Israelites (Exodus 8:23).
  • Although the magicians duplicated the first two plagues, they could not bring them to an end. Only Moses could through God’s power.
  • Explain the first nine plagues were a direct strike against the pagan gods of the Egyptians (Numbers 33:4):
  • Explain that the 10th plague—death of the firstborn—directly confronted all the gods of Egypt. This included Pharaoh himself since he was viewed as a god (Exodus 12:29).
  • Download and print the chart “The 10 Plagues of Egypt” to record your findings as you read about each plague.

Passover is a memorial not only of Israel’s deliverance from death, but more importantly, it is a memorial of Christ’s death.

A memorial throughout your generations (verses 14, 24-27)

  • Explain and define memorial: “something designed to preserve a memory.”
  • Explain that Christ changed the manner of observing the Passover ceremony. Passover is a memorial not only of Israel’s deliverance from death, but more importantly, it is a memorial of Christ’s death.
  • Share the events surrounding the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. 
  • Explain the symbolism of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 as it relates to Christ, our Passover.
  • Explain that prior to Christ’s death, Passover commemorated the death angel passing over Israel, sparing their firstborn.

Explain that Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem every year to observe the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Did Jesus Christ keep the Passover?

Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem every year (Luke 2:41-43)

  • Explain that Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ parents, did “all things according to the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:39).  They were faithful servants of God.
  • Explain that Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem every year to observe the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. At this time it was customary for the Jewish people to annually observe these days in Jerusalem. This particular account records that Jesus Christ was twelve years old.

Explain the new symbols Jesus Christ instituted during this Passover observance.

Jesus went to Jerusalem (John 2:13, 23)

  • Explain that Jesus continued in the law of the Lord and observed the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in Jerusalem.
  • Point out that Jesus remained in Jerusalem through the two festivals Passover and Unleavened Bread.

Jesus’ Final Passover (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-38; John 13:1-17)

  • Explain that the two festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread were often spoken of or referred to jointly as “Passover” because they follow one after another (much as we might refer to the “spring holy day season”).
  • Explain that Christ instructed Peter and John to prepare the room for the Passover.
  • Emphasize that they gathered in the evening. This would have been at sunset on the fourteenth day of the first month, as commanded.
  • Explain the new symbols Jesus Christ instituted during this Passover observance. Christ instructs his disciples to continue this practice.

Explain the humility Jesus demonstrated through washing the feet of the disciples.

Symbols of the New Covenant Passover

Christ provides us an example of foot washing (John 13:2-17)

  • Explain Christ specifically commands that we are to follow His example. Jesus Christ did not abolish the Passover observance. In contrast, He expanded this festival’s meaning (John 6:53-54).
  • Explain the proper translation should be “and during supper,” not “and supper being ended” (verse 2).
  • Define and discuss humility.
  • Explain the humility Jesus demonstrated through washing the feet of the disciples. This was a menial task, often reserved for the lowliest of servants. Jesus Christ illustrated that He came to earth to serve.
  • Explain the love Jesus Christ demonstrated through washing the feet of the disciples. Shortly after this service, Jesus Christ willingly suffered and gave His life so we could be reconciled to the Father (Romans 5:10).
  • Emphasize that we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Master and Lord when we obey His command to wash one another’s feet. Jesus Christ left us an example that He fully expects us to follow (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:5-6).

Partaking of the unleavened bread (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19)

Partaking of the wine (Matthew 26:27-29; Mark 14:23-25; Luke 22:17-18)

  • Explain that the wine symbolized Christ’s shed blood for the forgiveness of our past sins (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:11-15; 1 John 1:7).
  • Explain that wine—not grape juice—was used during this ceremony. Due to lack of pasteurization, only fermented wine would have been available in the spring of the year.
  • Discuss why Christ’s blood is precious (1 Peter 1:19).  We must strive to overcome sin and be mindful of the sacrifice that we call on to cover our sins.

Singing a hymn was an opportunity to give praise to God the Father.

Singing a hymn (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26)

  • Explain that singing a hymn was an opportunity to give praise to God the Father (Ephesians 5:19-20).
  • Read the Hallel psalms of praise (Psalms 113-118), often read on joyous occasions.

“In remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-29)

  • Explain that Christ changed the Passover service, from shedding the blood of the lamb and eating its roasted body, to wine and unleavened bread. The changing of the symbols did not abolish the Passover observance (Exodus 12:14).

The bread and the wine signify Christ’s entire sacrifice for all humanity.

  • Emphasize that we are not only to remember Christ’s death, but also His suffering (Luke 22:15).  The bread and the wine signify Christ’s entire sacrifice for all humanity.
  • Explain the guidelines on partaking of the Passover. Emphasize the significance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and our obligation to obey carefully His instructions about its observance:
    • The Passover ceremony is the memorial of Christ’s crucifixion, which occurred on the fourteenth day of the first month. Therefore this ceremony is only done once per year at the assigned time.
    • The Passover ceremony is to occur “the same night in which He was betrayed” (1 Corinthians 11:23).  Therefore this memorial ceremony is restricted to nighttime.
    • The Passover ceremony is to “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).  Passover is therefore a perpetual observance.
    • The Passover ceremony is reserved for those who have already made a covenant with God through baptism (Exodus 12:48-49; Colossians 2:11-13).
    • The Passover ceremony is a solemn occasion and cannot be entered into “in an unworthy manner” (1 Corinthians 11:27).  Therefore self-examination and repentance must occur prior to the partaking of the Passover symbols (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5).
    • The Passover ceremony is a memorial service acknowledging Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. Therefore this is not a social occasion and no meal should be consumed during this service (1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 34).

Redemption in Christ

The Word became Christ (John 1:1-3, 14; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-17)

  • Explain that the spirit being who created the physical earth and man became Jesus the Christ, a physical human being (Ephesians 3:9).
  • Explain that the Word chose to “empty Himself” to become a flesh-and-blood human being so He could pay the penalty for our sins (Philippians 2:7).
  • Explain the necessity that Christ be more than a flesh-and-blood human being; it was also necessary that Christ be God manifested in the flesh. He made all things, so His one life was worth more than all human lives combined. Unless Christ’s blood was shed and His body beaten, He could not have become our Savior (Titus 2:13-14).

The Father made provisions for humanity’s redemption prior to Creation.

At the appointed time (Romans 5:6; 1 Peter 1:18-21)

  • Explain that Christ’s betrayal, arrest, trials, beating, scourging, crucifixion, death and burial all occurred within a 24-hour period, sunset to sunset, on the fourteenth day of the first month.
  • Explain that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ occurred at the prescribed time—the Passover—determined by the Father from the foundation of the earth. The Father made provisions for humanity’s redemption prior to Creation (Revelation 13:8).

The Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36)

  • Explain that the unblemished, male lamb of the Old Testament Passover foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Exodus 12:5; 1 Peter 1:19).
  • Explain that Christ took upon Himself the full penalty of our sins—death—disarming Satan’s power over us (Colossians 2:15) and reconciling us to the Father. Remission of sins can only occur through the shedding of blood: life for life. The Father grants salvation only through the shed blood of Christ (Colossians 1:20-22; Hebrews 9:22).

Passover is observed with new and deeper meaning because of Christ’s suffering and death.

Christ our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7)

  • Explain the symbolism of the elements associated with the Exodus 12 Passover lamb as they relate to Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption.
  • Explain that Passover is observed with new and deeper meaning because of Christ’s suffering and death.

Fulfillment of Scripture (John 19:33-37)

“I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-58)

  • Explain that partaking of the Passover symbols is required to receive eternal life. One accepts Christ’s sacrifice as the true Passover Lamb when participating in the Passover service.
  • Explain that by partaking of the Passover symbols, we express our faith that God applies Christ’s sacrifice to our past sins (Galatians 2:20; Romans 3:23-26).

Stories related to the Festival of Passover

King Hezekiah restoring God’s festivals in 2 Chronicles 29-30: Due to the severe destruction and desecration of the temple, the priests and Levities could not cleanse it in time to keep the Passover in the first month. Hezekiah issued a decree that Passover would be celebrated on the fourteenth day of the second month (as instructed in Numbers 9:9-12 ).

King Josiah’s restoration of the observance of the annual holy days in 2 Kings 22; 23:1-3, 21-23 and
2 Chronicles 34-35:
In the 18th year of Josiah’s reign, a copy of the Book of the Law was found during the restoration of the temple. Hearing the warnings of God read aloud, Josiah repented and led Judah in a return to God. So fervent was Josiah’s restoration that “none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 35:18).

Rebuilding of the temple by decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, in Ezra 6: Cyrus released the exiled Jews
to their homeland and supplied the necessary resources for the rebuilding of the temple. Under the direction of Haggai and Zechariah, the temple was completed after four years, and the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were observed with great joy.

Memory Verse

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? —Romans 8:32

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