Christians: Jesus's Passover Holiday Shows Compassion To You
I have attended Friday night Sabbath services, Purim festivals, and various home and family-based observances such as the autumn harvest celebration Sukkoth (some people call “Jewish Thanksgiving.”) However, the holiday which makes the biggest impression on me is Passover. Passover is an eight-day holiday celebrated in conjunction with a meal interspersed with sacred readings and prayers. Many Christians believe Jesus Christ was observing this spring Holy time at the Last Supper.
Was the Last Supper a Passover Meal?
According to the Christian Bible, the answer is maybe. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke seem to answer "yes," while the Gospel of John says "no." It was certainly very close to the beginning of Passover if not the first night.
In any case, as an observant Jew Jesus certainly participated in many Passover ceremonies. Learn a little about this annual religious ceremony entwined with a meal.
Passover - Holy Days with Compassion for Others
Passover is a Jewish holy week (actually eight days) in which many miracles of perseverance, faith, and the steadfastness of God are remembered. It also recounts the escape of the Jews from slavery under "bad guys" into freedom. However, even those bad guys are remembered with some regret for what they suffered during the Jewish escape. Akin to forgiveness shown by the Amish community in the face of the Nickels Mines school shooting, every year Jews show compassion for the non-Jews who oppressed them long ago.
The Seder Service for Newbies
"Haggadah" is the Jewish name for the Passover ceremony interwoven with the meal. I find this short version to be great for those giving Passover a first try.
The Story of Exodus
Passover commemorates the flight of the enslaved Jews from Egypt, recounted in the book of Exodus. It took a series of ten plagues from God to convince Egyptian leaders to permit their departure. The means by which the plagues visit Egypt (getting uglier and uglier), how the Jews avoid harm, and their difficult escape is a story which Judaism requires to be remembered every year.
The Seder: A Service In A Symbolic Meal
Exciting and complex, these dramatic and detailed events form the basis of a celebration conducted at home (I like that) and interwoven with a meal. Called a Seder (pronounced SAY-der), this multi-hour- long observance uses a liturgical booklet and many special foods eaten in specific order. In addition, a few hiding games and rewards appealing to children are built into the ceremony. Furthermore, there is the honor for the youngest child (who is capable) to ask four important questions in the Seder ceremony. And, for those who like mysticism, the ancient prophet Elijah is always considered a possible guest.
The Compassionate Moment
However, the part of the ceremony which impressed me most is an action during the recital of the ten plagues. Wine is drunk at specific times for specific purposes during the Seder. As the moment occurs in which the plagues will be listed, Seder guests are instructed to take their wine glass. For each plague, they remove a drop by dipping a finger into the wine. They then touch the drop to the edge of their dinner plate. Ten times this is done. What is the reason? It is because the Jews’ glass of happiness cannot be full if others (the Egyptians) had to suffer.
Wow. THAT is compassion. THAT is walking in the other’s shoes. THAT is spiritual maturity.
Open To The Community
In my area, the synagogues and temples in a town prepare a Seder at their community center. It's open to the public.
Does your heart yearn to know more about Jesus and loving your neighbor?
Look into it.
© 2011 Maren Elizabeth Morgan