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.
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.
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.
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 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.).
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