HOW TO OBSERVE THE PASSOVER

The  Passover Season is a truly unique time of the year   for  the followers  of God the Father and Jesus Christ it is the most important gathering of the children of God  during this age of the church. Within the meaning of the washing  of feet and the symbolic bread and wine are the keys that unlock the  way to eternal life, immortality and joy  forever as a son of God.

The Covenant Relationship

The  Passover represents the beginning of a new and unique  relationship between God the Father, Jesus Christ, and a child of God, and it should be looked forward to as an  extremely  special event.

In  the  first month of the sacred calendar,  God  instituted  the Passover  ceremony  through which the  ancient  Israelites  were released  from the slavery of Egypt, saved from  physical  death, and shown that they were considered sons of God.

Just as  the Passover was an intrinsic part of the covenant  relationship between God and the ancient nation of Israel, it is also  with those under the New Covenant during this age.

For  the  elect  of God, the Passover  ceremony  represents  being released  from  the  bondage of sin, being saved  from  eternal  death through Christ's sacrifice, and having an eternal covenant of sonship with God the Father.

Passover Preparation

Under  the  agreement  with ancient Israel, there  was  a  lengthy process  of  preparation that took place far in advance of  actually  eating  the Passover  meal. This preparation included the return to Jerusalem of Israelite males who were away from Jerusalem. These men had to make sure  they could be in Jerusalem to observe the Passover.

Regardless of whether a person lived close to the temple of God  in Jerusalem  or  had to travel a great distance to get  there,  the very  nature of this observance dictated that all Israelites had to prepare for this event far in advance of its actual observance.

The following things had to be done before the Passover observance:

The time and planning that were necessary in order to prepare for the  Passover  observance allowed a person  the  opportunity  to meditate,  pray, and think about the many reasons they  were required to participate in this observance.

There  are many parallels between the  physical preparation  that was necessary for the Passover in ancient Israel and the spiritual preparation that is necessary in order to observe the Passover today.

Because of the tremendous meaning that the Passover has for those who  are called to salvation, it is important to make the  proper spiritual  preparation before performing the rituals  of  the washing of feet and the partaking of the bread and wine. In order to prepare  for the  Passover,  there  are a number of things that  one  can  and should do prior to coming before  the Father and his Son to participate in the symbolic rituals of this very important  ceremony.

Self Examination:

Because of the seriousness of the Passover observance, the apostle Paul instructs the Corinthians to examine themselves before partaking of the bread and wine:

"But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup" (1.Cor.11:28 Para.).

As each person examines their spiritual condition  and their  performance as  a  child  of God, it is a good practice  to  review  the  baptismal commitment  and covenant relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ. This  time of preparation and self-examination also  provides  an excellent opportunity to do the following:

Spiritual House Cleaning

Preparation  for the Passover offers an excellent opportunity  to get  one's spiritual house in order. Notice what Paul said  while instructing  the  Corinthians to discipline  one  of  the elect  who had been found guilty of incest:

"Purge out therefore the old leaven [i.e., sin], that you may  be a  new  lump,  as you are unleavened [i.e.,  sinless].  For  even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for you: Therefore let us  keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of  sincerity  and truth" (1.Cor.5:7-8 KJV).

Paul  said that the way to remove sin from one's life is  through  repentance and the pure and  sinless sacrifice of Jesus Christ who is the Passover Lamb. If a person must remove sin before keeping the  Feast  of Unleavened Bread, it must be very important for one to make an effort to set  their  spiritual  life in order before  partaking  of  the Passover, which pictures the method by which our sin is removed.

An Extremely Personal Ceremony

Although  this ceremony is shared with others, it is an  extremely individual and personal experience.

As one participates in the rituals of the washing of feet and partaking of the bread  and wine, it is important to ponder the deep meaning  that each one has for you personally.

It is a time to remember and meditate on the tremendous  effort and sacrifice that the Father and Jesus Christ have made in order for you to be among the first chosen out of humanity to participate in the calling to salvation and to become a member of  the God family.

It is a time to remember that you were a sinner who was doomed to eternal  death for the violation of God's law  before  the  Father's call to salvation.

It is a time to remember that Jesus Christ cared enough for  you to  come  to earth and save you from  eternal  death  by taking upon himself the punishment that you deserved and  would have suffered had he not given his life in your place.

It is a time to remember that at baptism you made an unconditional  agreement with God the Father to totally commit your life  in obedience to his calling and way of life.

Communion with the Father and Christ

While  explaining  how to view pagan worship  systems  and  their ritual  offerings, Paul uses the relationship between Israel  and the  Creator  God pictured in the Passover as an example  of  the correct  attitude and behavior the elect should  have  concerning God's ways:

1.Cor.10:1-4, 15, 21 KJV

"Moreover, brethren, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized to Moses in the cloud and in the  sea; And  did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all  drink  the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock  that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (vs.1-4).

Paul  explained  that,   under the first agreement,  the  people  of Israel  gained their understanding of God's ways from eating  and drinking  spiritual nourishment that came from the  Creator  God who was Jesus Christ. It is also important to understand  that ancient  Israel communed with God through the  sacrificial system and the annual observances, such as the Passover and its various rituals.

Because  the elect of God at Corinth had the holy  spirit,  they had  the  ability to use wisdom in discerning  good  and evil   and  understanding  the  spiritual  things   of   God (1.Cor.12:8-10, 28-30). Therefore, Paul appeals to them as  spiritually wise people, and asks them to judge what he says accordingly:

"I speak as to wise men; judge you what I say. The  cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion  of the  blood  of Christ? The bread which we break, is  it  not  the communion of the body of Christ?" (vs.15-16).

The word 'communion' is the English translation of the Greek word 'koinonia', which connotes communing,  participating and/or sharing in something that is common to all  who are communing, participating  and/or sharing  an  event or thing.

This  close  personal relationship is made  possible,  because  a child of God has had their sins forgiven and has been made a son in  the Family of God through the sacrificial  body and blood  of Jesus Christ.

Throughout  the year, a child of God fellowships with  the  Father and Jesus Christ through the bond of the holy spirit, prayer, and the practice of the Father's precepts  and principles of the  law.

During  the Passover, the communion of the body of Christ  is  expressed through the fellowship, participation, and sharing of  the Lord's table (i.e., the rituals of partaking of the bread and wine):

"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: you cannot  be  partakers of the Lord's table, and of  the  table  of devils" (v21).

Paul  spoke about the participation in Christ's life  through  the Passover observance. Because Christ  is  holy  and  righteous, all who participate in  Christ's  life should  have the same holy and righteous behavioral  characteristics.

THE PASSOVER CEREMONY

Final reflective preparation for the  New Covenant Passover should be done the afternoon of the fourteenth day; then, the actual ceremony must be observed after sunset at  the end of the fourteenth day of the first month of the sacred calendar.

Although  the overall tone of the Passover observance is  serious  and  is not to be observed in  a  festive  atmosphere (1.Cor.11:20-22), it is not a time of sorrow, sadness, or  grief. It is  a time of serious contemplation about what the body and blood of Christ mean to you personally. Therefore, the Passover should  be observed with an attitude of respect, reverence, and thankfulness for what it pictures.

The Washing of Feet

As  a  person performs the ritual of washing  feet,  they  should remember that one of the primary reasons they were called to have a part  in  the first resurrection is to be a humble  and  obedient servant.  This calling to service not only includes  serving  the Father,  Christ,  and the elect, but also serving others  while  preparing  to serve humanity as a son of God in the Kingdom of God.

The Bread

Before and during the eating of the small piece of  unleavened bread, which symbolizes Christ's body, it is appropriate  to reflect on the suffering that Jesus endured as he allowed  himself to be tortured and beaten in order for us to have our spiritual and physical sins forgiven.

Christ's Broken Body

"And as they  were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it,  and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body"  (Matt.26:26 KJV).

"And  he  took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave  to them,  saying,  This is my body which is given for you:  this  do in  remembrance  of  me" (Lk.22:19  KJV).  See  also Isa.53:3-5; 1.Cor.11:23-24; 1.Pet.2:24.

The Wine

The cup of wine is symbolic of Jesus' own blood, which he shed for us   to make it possible for our sins to be forgiven, so that we could be  reconciled  to  the Father and become partakers  of the New Covenant.

"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them,  saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new  testament,  which  is  shed  for  many  for  the  remission  of  sins" (Matt.26:27-28 KJV).

"This  cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which  is  being poured out for you" (Lk.22:20 Para.).

Comment

As we perform each of the Passover rituals and  meditate on the meaning of each, we may want to thank the Father and Jesus Christ individually for their specific effort in making  it possible for us to participate in this most important ceremony.

After the Passover

Each year, the Passover observance pictures one's salvation,  the  renewal of one's covenant with God, and one's commitment to  fulfilling one's part of the agreement.

After  the Passover has been observed, a person should come  away with  a  sense of awe and appreciation for what  they  have  been allowed to participate in. One should also come away with a sense of  renewed commitment to perform the promises made  at  baptism and to do   whatever the Father requires in order to fulfill  the reason for one's calling.

The Passover observance should be a constant reminder  throughout the  year of the awesome commitment that was made by  the  Father and Jesus Christ to allow us to have salvation.

One  of the messages of the Passover, that should remain  with us throughout the year is that our former life, which  was  under the law of death, is now gone forever, and we are  now living a totally new kind of life that is free from the penalty of  sin. See Rom.12:1-2.

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our  Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting  covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his  will,  working  in you that which is  well-pleasing  in  his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and  ever. Amen" (Heb.13:20-21 KJV).

By B. L. Cocherell, file b5w27