18 Apr Elements – From Exile to Liberation
I have trouble calling Passover a holiday. To me, Passover is a solemn occasion where I am continually reminded not only of the slavery of my ancestors, but also my own liberation through Y’shua. It is a time to remember the shedding of the blood of the Passover Lamb, who died for your sins and mine. The Passover Haggadah states that each person should see him or herself as having personally come out of Egypt. This is whey the Seder is so sensory – so we can tell, see, smell, feel, and taste liberation.
Passover isn’t only a time filled with tears, though, it is also a celebration of the preservation of my people and the goodness of God. I am continually blown away by how God preserves the Jewish people throughout history, and how Jesus was and is the crux of His plan for the salvation of humanity.
The elements on the Passover plate are an important symbolic representation of the journey of the Israelites from exile in Egypt to liberation in the Promised Land. They are representative of the time in Egypt, the escape from Egypt, and God’s deliverance.
If you have been tracking with our Instagram #elements series (which, by the way, follow us on Instagram @jewsforjesuscanada), then you have seen some brief explanations of each of the elements on the Seder plate. This post will go more into depth on each of the elements, why they are on the Seder plate and what they represent. Passover is such a rich holiday with so much meaning. It is amazing that the knowledge of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah makes it that much richer. As I dive into the Passover setting and the traditional elements, I hope you will see it as more than just a meal but as a symbol of the life and salvation through the Lamb of God.
Element #1: Karpas is a type of green, usually parsley or lettuce, that represent life. They are dipped into salt water, which represents the tears of life. This serves as reminder that a life without redemption is a life immersed in tears. This was the way of life for our ancestors in Egypt.
For us, Jesus also represents life. Through Him, we are liberated from our lives without redemption, which were full of tears. We were brought out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land, and Jesus liberates us from our sin into a life of liberation.
Element #2: The egg (beitzah) on the Seder plate is roasted just as the sacrifices made at the altar in ancient times were roasted. This represents grief for the sufferings of the Jewish people, as well as grief over the destruction of the second temple. The egg, too, is dipped in salt water, representing tears.
Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. We need not make sacrifices in the temple anymore because Jesus lived, died, and rose again to free us from our transgressions.
An egg also represents new life. We believe that through Jesus’ redemption, we can be saved and have new life.
Element #3: Charoset represents the mortar that the Hebrew people used when they made bricks for Pharaoh. It is made with chopped apples, raisins, honey, nuts, so how could it be bad?! The question of the irony of eating something so sweet and delicious to commemorate a bitter time in our history has been addressed by many rabbis. Simply stated, even the most bitter labour is sweetened with the promise of redemption.
Jesus is the fulfillment of this redemption. We were burdened with the bitterness of our transgressions, but Jesus’ death and resurrection took that burden off our shoulders. How sweet!
Element #4: Chazeret is the root of a bitter herb, usually represented through an onion or horseradish. It reminds us that the root of life is bitter as it was for our ancestors in Egypt.
Element #5: Maror are the bitter herbs themselves – usually freshly ground horseradish. This brings to mind how bitter life is without redemption. We celebrate our redemption from slavery, but also our redemption through the Messiah, the Saviour of the universe.
The elements of the egg and shankbone beg the question of how with no temple to sacrifice in we can be atoned for our sins? The Law of Moses states very clearly, “I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Lev 17:11) So with no temple, and with no Lamb of God, how can we be atoned?
There once lived a Jewish man named John, more commonly known as John the Baptist. One day while baptizing people in the River Jordan, he saw another Jewish man, his cousin, Jesus. And John said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” That’s how. Redemption. Not through the blood of lambs. Redemption through the blood of the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, the Messiah Jesus.
Not on the Seder plate, but an important part of the Passover meal is the matzah, which is unleavened bread. During Passover, we eat nothing that contains any leaven or yeast. Throughout scripture, leaven is used as a symbol of sin. A small piece of leaven is used to ferment an entire portion of dough and it causes the dough to rise. By not eating leaven, we are saying that we want to break the daily sin cycle in our own lives. Jewish homes undergo spring cleaning to rid their homes of any traces of leaven.
The matzah is broken in half during the early stage of the Seder. One half is set aside to be eaten for dessert, and the other half is put back to its place between the other two matzahs. This matzah is called the afikomen, and it is hidden from view. The children at the Seder will later look for the afikomen and bring it back to the table.
Broken, buried, brought back. The afikomen is broken in half, buried from view, and then brought back to the table. Y’shua himself was broken on the cross, was buried, and then was raised back to life on the third day. The word afikomen is a Greek word meaning “the coming one.” The matzah itself is unleavened, therefore sinless. Jesus came as a sinless, pure, spotless Messiah.
Passover does not have to be a sorrowful night. Passover is a night of rejoicing, a night to be thankful and to praise God. I can praise God not only because death passed over my ancestor’s homes, and not only because the Lord redeemed us out of the land of Egypt; but, because I have been redeemed from an even greater bondage through my faith in the Messiah of Israel, the Messiah Jesus. Through Him, each one of us may pass over from death to life. There is a traditional song we sing at Passover called Dayenu, which means “it would have been enough.” It would have been enough if God took us out of Egypt. God, in all His kindness, grace and love for His people gave us Jesus, the ultimate Passover lamb. The story of Passover is very personal despite it happening to our ancestors thousands of years ago. Death has passed over us. We eat the Passover meal reclining, knowing that we are free and can enjoy our redemption. This brings new meaning to those who know the love of Christ.
Written by Ketzia Barron, Intern for Jews for Jesus Canada.