Celebrate Passover with us!
The Passover Story Is a Celebration of God’s Love and Deliverance
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new
lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our
Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
(1 Corinthians 5:7)
“For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and
when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two door-
posts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the
destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.”
Passover celebrates God’s deliverance of the Jews in Egypt by means of the spilt blood of a perfect lamb that the Israelites placed on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. The original language indicates that the blood of the lamb was “struck” onto the doorpost and lintels—meaning, the lamb was struck by God Himself on behalf of those who embraced it.
“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4–6)
Consequently, when the angel of death passed over their homes and saw the blood on their doors, they were saved. It’s a picture of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. In the symbolism of this Passover celebration, we learn more about what God, in Christ, has done for us.
The celebration of Passover helps deepen our understanding of the cross and our own freedom from sin and death.
The Seder meal, or order of the ceremony, surrounds four cups of wine:
- The Cup of Sanctification and Thanksgiving
- The Cup of Blessing
- The Cup of Redemption
- The Cup of Elijah
Each cup represents a different facet of the Passover, and ultimately, the redemption story and what it means to follow Jesus Christ.
Preparation for the Seder Meal
The Seder Plate
The following items are placed on the Seder plate as symbols to help us remember the story of Passover:
- Matzah – 3 whole matzahs are placed on top of one another and then covered by a napkin or cloth covering. Matzahs are a visual representation of bread from which leaven has been removed. Since leaven is likened to sin in the Bible, Passover is, therefore, a time to examine ourselves before God and remove the sin in our lives that separates us from Him and others.
- Karpas (parsley and saltwater) – The parsley is a reminder of the hyssop by which the blood of the lamb was applied (struck) to the doorposts and lintel of the home (Exodus 12:21–22), and the salt is a reminder of the slaves’ sweat and tears during enslavement.
- Charoset (apples and walnuts) – A reminder of the harsh servitude the Jews lived under in Egypt and by which they had to make bricks.
- Maror (horseradish) – The reminder of the bitterness of sin.
- Zeroa (lamb shank bone) – The lamb bone reminds us of the lamb.
- Beitzah (hard-boiled egg) – The egg is a symbol of mourning or sadness due to the destruction of the temple and the inability to offer sacrifices. It also reminds us of the circle of life.
- Wine – The four cups of wine (or grape juice) during the meal are taken from the book of Exodus:
“I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people.” (Exodus 6:6–7, NIV)
- 2 tall candles
- Matzah and afikomen covers
The Lighting of the Candles
The candles are lit while the blessing below is given:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27:1, NKJV)
ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו בדברו צוותיו
ונתן לנו את ישוע משיחנו וציווה עלינו להיות אור לעולם. אמן.
Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech haolam, asher kidshanu b’devaro v’natan lanu et Yeshua Meshichaynu v’tzeevanu l’hiyot or l’olam. Amen.
Blessed are You our Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by your word, given us Jesus our Messiah, and commanded us to be light to the world. Amen
The Four Questions
The youngest person present asks:
Why is this night different from all other nights? (Exodus 12:26)
They then ask:
Why do we eat unleavened bread?
Why do we eat bitter herbs?
Why do we dip the herbs in saltwater?
After the time of Joseph, the Egyptians enslaved the people of Israel in the land of Egypt. They oppressed the people of Israel and forced them into hard slave labor for Pharoah. God called Moses at the burning bush to lead His people out of Egypt, out of their suffering, hardship, and persecution. However, Pharoah hardened his heart and would not let the people of Israel leave. The bitter herbs remind us of the bitterness of that time of hardship and slavery. The saltwater the herbs are dipped into reminds us of the Israelites’ tears (Exodus 12:26–27).
On the night of Passover, the angel of death passed over all the houses of Egypt, killing the firstborn of every household. But the Hebrew households that had placed the blood of a perfect lamb on the doorposts and lintels were saved from death. It is the night when God, by Jesus Christ, delivered us from our slavery to sin and ungodliness. Jesus said:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave
of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a
son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you
shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34–36, NKJV)
The matzah is unleavened because it is a picture of the sinless life of Christ. (Leaven is a symbol of sin in the Bible that corrupts our whole being—see Matthew 16:6–12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Corinthians 5:6–7). Jesus is the perfect lamb without sin who died for the sake of salvation for the world.
A blessing of the matzah can be given now.
ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech haolam ha motzi lechem min haaretz.
Blessed are You Lord our God, King of the universe, who gives us bread from the earth.
The Hiding of the Afikomen
Now it’s time to hide the afikomen. The afikomen is the middle piece of three pieces of matzah bread. It is wrapped in a cloth and hidden away by one of the children present and then brought out later when the cup of redemption (Communion) is celebrated. It is wrapped to remind us of the burial of Christ.
Once again, the bread is unleavened because it is a picture of the sinless life of Christ. The matzah is also striped and pierced—a picture of the lashes left on Jesus’ body when the Roman whip was applied to His body. It is also pierced—a picture of the nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet.
At this point the ritual handwashing takes place by which the participant sanctifies (sets apart) themselves to engage in this holy celebration. It is at this point during the Last Supper that Jesus rose and washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:3–5, 14–15).
The First Cup: The Cup of Sanctification and Thanksgiving
During the Passover celebration, we will drink from the same cup four times to remind us of the different facets of the Passover/redemption story. We learn a lot about what it means to follow Jesus Christ through the drinking of these cups. They can be grape juice or wine.
A blessing is now said together, and then everyone can drink from the first cup.
ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech haolam, boray p’ree hagafen.
Blessed are You Lord our God, King of the universe, who has given to us the fruit of the vine.
Karpas (parsley) is a reminder of the hyssop by which the blood of the lamb was applied (struck) to the doorposts and lintels of the home (Exodus 12:21–22), and the salt is a reminder of the slaves’ sweat and tears during enslavement. The parsley is dipped into the saltwater and then eaten by all those participating.
Charoset (apples and walnuts) is a reminder of the harsh servitude that the Jews lived under in Egypt and by which they had to make bricks. This can be eaten alone or with some of the matzah on the table.
Maror (horseradish) recalls the bitterness of slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1:14) and is a reminder of the bitterness of sin. This is also eaten with some matzah from the table.
The Second Cup: The Cup of Blessing or Deliverance
We now recount the blessings of God upon our lives. This part of the celebration is called the “Dayeinu,” or “It would have been enough.” We remember that because of His great love for us, God has richly blessed us—by sending Jesus into the world to rescue us from the slavery of sin free us from Satan’s domination over our lives. So, after each statement, we exclaim “Dayeinu!”
If God only took us out of Egypt (Sin)—Dayeinu!
If God only took us out of Egypt and judged the Egyptians (the world and the devil)— Dayeinu!
If God only parted the Red Sea (overcame our carnal hearts)—Dayeinu!
If God only fed us with manna (the word of God) for 40 years in the wilderness—Dayeinu!
If God only gave us Sabbath (rest)—Dayeinu!
If God only gave us His laws (teachings about His character) at Mount Sinai—Dayeinu!
If God only brought us into the promised land (heaven)—Dayeinu!
The second cup is taken together.
A prayer is said over the meal, and then dinner is served.
After the meal, children are released to find the afikomen—a symbol of Jesus’ life and passion. It is hidden away to remind us that Christ is not easily recognized by us. We search for Him as God the Father draws us to Him (John 6:65).
Once the afikomen is found, it is returned to the leader.
At this point during the Last Supper (or Jesus’ last Passover meal), Jesus inaugurates the celebration of Communion (Luke 22:14–23; 1 Corinthians 11:23–26). The Scriptures record that, “He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me’” (Luke 22:19). The matzah bread is now a symbol of Jesus’ broken body and is broken and eaten by everyone who believes in Jesus as the Messiah.
The Third Cup: The Cup of Redemption
At this point during the Last Supper, Jesus took the cup and said, “This is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20). This cup of wine is His blood poured out for sinners on the cross.
This is the new covenant that the prophet Jeremiah wrote about (Jeremiah 31:31–34).
The third cup, the Cup of Redemption, is taken together.
The Fourth Cup: The Cup of Elijah (Praise)
This last cup, called the “Cup of Praise,” gives expression to the fact that we are filled with joy and thanksgiving to God for His great redemptive work in our lives. We are enthusiastically looking forward to the day when Elijah will return and herald the second coming of Jesus. Therefore, we celebrate the Lord’s death “until He comes again” (1 Corinthians 11:26; Malachi 4:4–6).
The last cup is now taken together.
At the Seder’s conclusion, there is a time of joyful singing and praise to God for all He has done.
Even so, Lord Jesus come! Hallelujah!
Hebrew Songs of Praise
Hodo L’ Adonai Ki Tov (Give Thanks to the Lord for He is Good)
Hodu L’Adonai ki tov, ki le-olam chasdo!
(Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good—His mercy everlasting!)
Hava Nagila (Let Us Be Glad)
HAVA NAGILA, HAVA NAGILA, HAVA NAGILA V’NIS-ME-CHA (let us be glad and rejoice)
HAVA NE-RA-NENA V’NIS-ME-CHA (let us sing and rejoice)
U-RU, U-RU ACHIM
(Awake, awake, brothers!)
U-RU ACHIM B’LEV SA-MAY-ACH U-RU ACHIM B’LEV SA-MAY-ACH (Awake, brothers, with a joyful heart!)
U-RU ACHIM B’LEV SA-MAY-ACH
U-RU ACHIM B’LEV SA-MAY-ACH (Awake, brethren, with a joyful heart!)
U-RU ACHIM, U-RU ACHIM
(Awake, brethren! Awake, brethren!)
B’LEV SA-MAY-ACH (HEY!) (with a joyful heart)
About the ICEJ
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem was established in 1980 in recognition of the biblical significance of all of Jerusalem and its unique connection with the Jewish people. Today, it represents millions of Christians, churches, and denominations to the nation and people of Israel. We recognize in the restoration of the State of Israel God’s faithfulness to keep His ancient covenant with the Jewish people.
Our goal is to stand with Israel in support and friendship, equip and teach the worldwide church regarding God’s purposes with Israel, be an active voice of reconciliation between Jews, Christians, and Arabs, and support the churches and congregations in the Holy Land. From its head offices in Jerusalem, the ICEJ reaches out to more than 170 countries worldwide, with branch offices in over 90 nations.
Our vision is to reach every segment of Israel’s society with a Christian testimony of comfort and love that represents the support of denominations, churches, and believers from every nation on Earth. For over 40 years, the ICEJ has stood by Israel, showing our comfort, love, and support in various ways, both in the Land and around the world. We administer aid projects, engage in advocacy for Israel, and assist in Aliyah to the Jewish homeland.
Learn more about the extensive, ongoing work and witness of the ICEJ by helping us fund our core activities in fulfilling our mandate to support Israel, educate the church, and fight antisemitism.
Donations allow us to maintain funding for emergency projects and embark on new initiatives to support Israel in these critical days. For more information, go to: https://icejusa.org/projects/.
Thank you for partnering with us in our vision to comfort and bless the Jewish people (Isaiah 40:1–2).
The US Branch of the ICEJ is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and all US donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. We are a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem – USA, Inc.
P.O. Box 332974 – Murfreesboro, TN 37133-2974
Tel: (615) 895-9830
How Can We Serve You?
Let the ICEJ serve you and your church the following ways:
- Come Experience IsraelThe US Branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) is here to help you experience Israel through our various Holy Land tours tailor-made for churches, young adults, pastors/leaders, and families, as well as our annual Feast of Tabernacles tour. As a non-denominational Christian ministry headquartered in Jerusalem for over 40 years, we have expertise in Israel—both biblical and modern day—that will bring the Bible to life before your eyes and deepen your faith and relationship with God. Contact our tours ministry team by email.
- Seminars on IsraelDo you want to learn more about Israel? We offer special DVD-driven small group studies like Discerning the Times and Biblical Zionism. One of our staff members can also come help teach a short study on why Christians should support Israel at your small group or church. Contact us by email to make an appointment today.
- Global Prayer InitiativesWe invite you and your church to join the ICEJ global movement of prayer for Israel and the nations by using our monthly prayer points whenever you pray corporately or individually. Join us in prayer every Wednesday for our Global Prayer Gatherings and monthly as intercession resounds around the globe on Rosh Chodesh. For more information go to https://icejusa.org/isaiah-62-prayer/.
Since our founding in September 1980, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem has assisted more than 160,000 Jews to make Aliyah and bring back to Israel. That represents more than 10 percent of the Jews who made the journey home to Israel in the past four decades. They are coming from the north, south, east, and west—just as the Bible promises.
The ICEJ has engaged in a wide variety of Aliyah efforts, working closely with the Jewish Agency for Israel and other partners to help with the historic Jewish return. In addition, the Christian Embassy also has provided generous assistance toward absorption projects which have helped tens of thousands of new Jewish immigrants settle into their new homes and integrate into Israeli society.
In Isaiah 49:22, the Lord says: “Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard for the peoples; they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” So we are invited by God to play a key prophetic role in the great Ingathering of Israel in our day. Please join us by supporting the ICEJ’s Aliyah efforts!
BE A PART OF THIS MODERN-DAY MIRACLE! Send your most generous gift today and participate in this prophetic fulfillment!