A recent commenter on my blog asked the question, “Should Christians celebrate Passover?” While this is certainly a controversial topic, it is absolutely one that needs to be visited on a regular basis, and the answer needs to be Scriptural, not based on man’s traditions and doctrines.
The early chapters of Exodus recount the miraculous redemption of Israel from Egypt. Central to the story is the celebration of Passover ‘as a sign’…’on your hand and on your forehead.’ (13:9) As part of the commandment, the Lord (YHVH) states clearly, multiple times, that Passover is an ordinance that is to be celebrated annually, forever. Here are a few verses from Exodus 12 and 13:
Ex. 12:24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever.
Ex. 13:10 Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from [a]year to year.
Clearly, from these verses and their surrounding context, someone is supposed to be keeping Passover every year! But, who?
Both Judaism and Christianity (religions) teach that Passover is only for the Jews and converts to Judaism, but is that what Scripture teaches?
The Apostle Paul said,
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
Therefore, we must ask the question, “What was Christ’s example?”
He perfectly kept the Torah and that included all of the Feasts of the Lord! In fact, Matthew’s recounting of Yeshua’s (Jesus’) last meal clearly connects His breaking of bread and drinking of the cup with Passover. He is not instituting some new tradition, rather He is imbuing it with deeper significance! Please read Matthew 26:17-30. Yeshua is keeping Passover!
What then was Paul’s example of imitation? He kept the Feasts of the Lord!! In fact, Paul’s example was that of keeping the whole of Torah! In I Corinthians 5 he clearly instructs the keeping of Passover!
I Cor. 5:7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
But, why would Paul do that, besides his desire to imitate Christ?
The simple answer is that Paul understood Yeshua’s mission and ministry. I could write a whole book right here, but for brevity’s sake, I will throw some pieces out here to help you begin a trail of searching the Scriptures.
Yeshua, by His own mouth, came for the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel.’ This gives us clarity when, during the fateful Passover meal previously mentioned, Yeshua invokes the connection of His blood to the New Covenant, He is leading us to Jeremiah 31:31-34:
31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law (TORAH) within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Notice the details of the New Covenant:
- It is with two specific groups
- It is NOT with the Gentiles
- It writes TORAH on the hearts
- It is not yet fulfilled!! (v. 34, men are still teaching their neighbor/brother)
We can confirm this understanding by looking at Ezekiel 37:24-28 and recognize that this unfulfilled prophecy details exactly what is going to happen in the future:
Ezekiel 37:24 “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. 25 They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will [a]place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. 27 My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. 28 And the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”’”
Notice the details of this future prophecy:
- The (good) shepherd, Yeshua, son of David will be king
- He and his people will dwell in the Land
- They will obey the Torah, even the statutes and the ordinances
- His sanctuary will dwell in their midst (Eze. 40-48; Rev. 21)
So, when Paul declares that believers in Messiah are ‘formerly Gentiles’ and now ‘have been brought near by the blood of Messiah’ and have been made members ‘of the commonwealth of Israel’ he is invoking very specific language that explains why we are to be keeping Passover. ‘Aliens and strangers,’ were not allowed to keep Passover according to Exodus 12:43-45, however, Paul’s argument is,
Therefore, Paul tells us, as previously pointed out, that we not only are to ‘keep the feast (Passover)’ but that we are to be imitators of Christ in doing so! It is time to get the leaven out and walk in the footsteps of Messiah Yeshua.
Passover, according to most calendars, occurs this year on the evening of April 11, 2017. If you need a quick overview and guidance, see How to: Messianic.
For additional reading, consider these posts: