The children of Israel had been in bondage and slavery in ancient Egypt for many, many years when God called Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go. That first encounter between the two men, one an all powerful king and the other a slave, set the stage for the stunning events of the first Passover.
In Exodus 5:1&2, Moses, representing the children of Israel, shows his faith in the Lord by literally risking his life to tell Pharaoh what God told him to say, “Let My people go.” Conversely, Pharaoh, representing the Egyptians, shows his lack of faith saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”
So in Exodus 11, when He announces the tenth and final plague, the plague of death, God says the Egyptians will be struck, but not the Hebrews. In fact He says not even a dog will bark against the children of Israel.
Then, finishing verse 7, He proclaims, “ . . . that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” It’s not that God hates Egyptians, or any Arabs for that matter. The issue is faith vs no faith - that’s what makes a difference to God.
Now this is really amazing. After promising Israel would be spared from the plague of death, God then laid out requirements for that to happen. As outlined in Chapter 12 of Exodus, Moses instructed the Hebrew slaves to take a lamb without blemish. He told them to keep that lamb for four days, then kill it, applying some of its blood to the doorposts of their houses. That alone required an act of faith. Certainly there had never been such a requirement before, and this one sounded pretty bizarre. Add to that the potential fear factor - that the Egyptian guards might react violently to this activity.
But, according to Exodus 12:28, “Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.”
Here is how God’s plan worked. He sent the plague of death into Egypt to kill all the first born in the land. But the mark of the blood on the door was a sign for the plague to pass over that house (there’s where we get the name Passover) and not cause any harm. Now remember, God had already promised the children of Israel nothing would happen to them, yet He required an act of faith, applying the blood, to save them from the plague.
What if some of the Egyptians followed the same requirement, faithfully applying the blood to their doorposts. Then they were spared as well because God said in Exodus 12:13, “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” He didn’t say the blood had to be on a Hebrew’s door.
As He said, the Lord did make a difference, and it was a difference between life and death, between those who applied the blood, and those who didn’t.
So it is to this day. God still makes a life and death difference for eternity, based on who applies the blood.
As reported in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, when Yeshua took the bread of the Passover Seder He conducted on the night of His arrest (commonly called the Last Supper), He gave thanks. That was a Jewish obligation. Praying over the bread at a meal was a basic in Jewish culture back then, as it still is today.
With a great deal of certainty, we believe that prayer was the Hamotzi, the same one prayed to this day. Particularly, it has a major role in every modern Seder: “Blessed are you Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.”
It is critically important to understand the happenings of The Last Supper in the Jewish perspective of a Seder. First and foremost, the bread Jesus blessed was unleavened - it had to be since God required it for Passover. Technically, according to Lev 23:5&6, only the first night of the Feast is Passover, the next seven days are the Feast of Unleavened Bread. But we, as they did in Messiah’s day, call the whole Feast Passover.
Since leaven is a scriptural symbol for sin, unleavened bread is a symbol of sinlessness. In fact, in Exodus 12:15, God commanded the children of Israel to remove all leavening from their houses during the Feast.
What Yeshua did next, after thanking God for the unleavened bread, was astonishing. In Luke 22:19 He said, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” He was identifying Himself as sinless. But that’s not all.
To properly bake unleavened bread in accordance with Jewish tradition, it had to have holes in it. That’s because it was baked at high heat, possibly in deference to the passage in Exodus 12 where God said to eat it in haste.
Now picture this. Jesus held up a piece of unleavened bread (modern day matzah), a symbol of sinlessness which was pierced. Then He said it was His body. Indeed, He was sinless, and He knew He was about to be pierced. Be assured His statement was full of passion. This man who in a short time would sweat blood as He prayed to our Father in the garden, knew what it meant for His sinless body to be crucified for the sins of the world. Furthermore, a Seder tradition (perhaps even in Messiah’s day) involves placing three pieces of matzah in a pouch with three compartments, each piece separated so they don’t touch.
We messianics see this as a representation of the Trinity, three symbols of sinlessness together, but separate. Continuing this tradition, the middle matzah (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is removed from the pouch, broken in two, then one piece wrapped in a white cloth and set aside to be brought back later. Get it. Wrapped in a cloth to be brought later - resurrection!
It all revolves around the unleavened bread. But there’s a further thread to the bread (rhyme intended).
Yeshua was born in Bethlehem. In Hebrew, it is Beit Lechem, House of Bread. He said of Himself in John 6:35 and elsewhere, “I am the bread of life.” He compared His body to the sinless, pierced unleavened bread of Passover. And He prayed over the bread that God, “Brings forth bread from the earth.” Again, resurrection!
Of course, all of this is the basis for Communion. Jesus used the Passover Seder to give it a full depth of significance.