Standing With the Jewish People This Passover (Pesach)

Shalom,

I passionately pray that you are all blessed this Choel Hamoed (days leading up to Pesach or Passover)! 

Just for fun (πŸ˜†) let's look at the meanings of these two words! MOED means a 'Holy appointed time', and CHOL means 'every day'. So during Choel Hamoed, while it is certainly a special festival set apart from the regular times of life, Jewish people are still able to go on with their regular business like working and shopping!

During this Choel Hamoed, the precious Jewish community around the world is preparing to commemorate one of its most significant and cherished festivals: Passover, or Pesach. This year (2024), it begins on Monday, April 22 at sundown and ends on Tuesday, April 30 at sundown.

Now, for us (gentile) Christians, we should still acknowledge that Passover holds a unique theological and historical significance, intertwining with the narrative of our own faith. Yeshua (Yah'shua), often referred to as the 'Lamb of God', shared a Passover meal with his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion, an event known as the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; and John 13:1-30). During this meal, Yah'shua instituted the sacrament of communion, transforming the Passover elements of bread and wine into symbols of his body and blood, establishing a new covenant between God and humanity. if you're a part of any orthodox or charismatic streams of Christianity, you likely still practice the Saints communion in your Church today!

As followers of Yah'shua (Jesus) seek to engage with and minister to Jewish people during this sacred time, understanding the essence and importance of Passover becomes critical in engaging in meaningful conversations and connections with His chosen people.

For the Jewish people, Pesach is rooted in the Exodus narrative from the Hebrew Bible. It commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt under the leadership of Moses. The practicing Jewish community uses this time to prioritize reflection, remembrance, and celebration of YHWH's (God's) deliverance and faithfulness. The rituals and symbols of Passover, such as the Seder meal, unleavened bread (matzah), bitter herbs, and the retelling of the Exodus story through the Haggadah, serve as tangible reminders of God's redemptive acts in history. I want to strongly encourage you to research Passover before you plan to minister and engage with the Jewish community this year!

Here are several key principles for Gentiles to consider (because we wouldn't want to offend or hurt His Chosen People):


Respect and Sensitivity: Recognize and respect the sacredness of Passover to the Jewish community. Approach conversations and interactions with humility, understanding, and sensitivity to their beliefs and traditions. 

For example, I would never speak about the Matzah as representing the body of Yeshua, or the wine as His blood. These are Christian examples that would make it seem as though we are trying to 'Christianize' their Jewish identity! We want to honour their traditions as best we can.*

Learn and Listen: Take the time to educate yourself about the significance of Passover in Judaism. Listen attentively to the stories, experiences, and perspectives of Jewish individuals. We aren't trying to appropriate Judaism or turn ourself into Judaizers, but we need to be understanding of their culture and values! Remember what the Apostle Paul said: "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." (1 Cor. 9:22).

Bridge Building: Look for common ground and shared values between Christianity and Judaism. These could be themes of liberation, redemption, and faithfulness found in both traditions, which create a bridge between us!

Much of our theology does not differ between our faith traditions! (Mostly just our Christology, ecclesiology, and thoughts on salvation being universally obtainable). Find ideas that you have in common with the Jewish people! Surely we can agree on the divine sovereignty and authority of YHWH.

Authentic Relationship Building: Focus on building authentic relationships based on mutual respect, trust, and friendship. Engage in acts of service, hospitality, and community**, demonstrating Christ's love through actions and words.

We are not trying to 'convert' the Jewish people, we are trying to open their eyes to Yeshua as their Messiah. We need to truly LOVE the Jewish people to serve them. We need to respect them as equals, we are not better than them -- in fact, we are actually indebted to them.

Invitation, Not Conversion: Approach ministry to Jewish people with an attitude of invitation rather than conversion. Respect their autonomy and agency in matters of faith, allowing for open and honest dialogue without coercion or pressure.

*Acceptance of Yeshua Hamashiach is not a conversion, it's a continuity.

** STAND with the Jewish community in this difficult time as their nation is under attack from Hamas.

Reflect Christ's Love: Above all, let Christ's love and compassion guide interactions and relationships with Jewish individuals. Show genuine care, empathy, and understanding, reflecting the heart of Jesus in every interaction.

In conclusion, Passover serves as a significant opportunity for Christians to engage in meaningful ministry to Jewish people, fostering understanding, dialogue, and relationship-building across faith traditions. By approaching Passover with respect, sensitivity, and a genuine desire for mutual understanding, Christians can honor the sacredness of this festival while embodying Christ's love and compassion in their interactions with the Jewish community. As bridges are built and relationships are nurtured, may the spirit of Passover inspire greater unity, reconciliation, and shared humanity among all people of faith.

Here's a List of The Elements of Passover:

  • Matzah (Unleavened Bread): Matzah is central to the Passover celebration. It symbolizes the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt, not allowing time for their bread to rise. Eating matzah during Passover serves as a tangible reminder of the hardships endured by the Israelites and the necessity of trusting in God's provision, even in times of adversity.

  • Maror (Bitter Herbs): Bitter herbs, such as horseradish, are eaten during the Passover Seder to symbolize the bitterness of slavery endured by the Israelites in Egypt. By consuming bitter herbs, Jewish people remember the suffering of their ancestors and express gratitude for their freedom.

  • The Seder Plate: The Seder plate contains several symbolic items that represent different aspects of the Passover story:

  • Zeroah (Shankbone): Represents the paschal lamb sacrificed during the original Passover in Egypt. It symbolizes redemption and the protective power of God.

  • Beitzah (Roasted Egg): Symbolizes renewal and the circle of life. It also serves as a reminder of the Temple sacrifices.

  • Charoset: A mixture of fruits, nuts, and wine, resembling the mortar used by the Israelites in building Egyptian structures. It symbolizes the sweetness of freedom and the hope for a brighter future.

  • Karpas: Typically parsley or another green vegetable, dipped in saltwater to symbolize tears shed during slavery. It also represents the arrival of spring and the promise of new life.

  • Chazeret: Another bitter herb, often romaine lettuce, eaten alongside the maror to enhance the bitterness experienced by the Israelites.

  • The Four Cups of Wine: During the Passover Seder, four cups of wine are traditionally consumed, each corresponding to one of the promises of redemption mentioned in Exodus 6:6-7:

    • Cup of Sanctification: Symbolizes God's promise to sanctify the Israelites and set them apart as His chosen people.

    • Cup of Deliverance: Represents God's promise to deliver the Israelites from bondage and oppression.

    • Cup of Redemption: Symbolizes God's promise to redeem the Israelites with an outstretched arm and great judgments.

    • Cup of Restoration: Represents God's promise to bring the Israelites into a special relationship with Him as His people.

  • The Haggadah: The Haggadah is a guidebook used during the Passover Seder, containing prayers, blessings, songs, and the retelling of the Exodus story. It serves as a means of passing down the traditions and teachings of Passover from generation to generation, ensuring that the story of liberation is never forgotten.

  • Afikoman: A piece of matzah that is broken and hidden during the Seder, later retrieved and eaten as the final food of the meal. The Afikoman represents the paschal lamb sacrificed during ancient times and serves as a reminder of the redemption and freedom granted to the Israelites.

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