We all know that Easter is more than egg hunts and brunch. We want to point the hearts of our family toward Christ, but it can be challenging to know what to incorporate. You could attend a Good Friday service, participate in Lent, or read about Jesus’ death and resurrection as a family. You could make resurrection rolls (free printable recipe with scripture) or open resurrection eggs (aff link here). We’d like to suggest another tradition that is steeped in history, symbolism, and will uniquely prepare your family’s hearts for resurrection Sunday: Passover.
In elementary school, my (Lydia’s) family lived in a Jewish area of town. I was one of two kids with blonde hair in my class, and I remember asking why I couldn’t go to Hebrew school with all my friends. It seemed like we were off school every other week for one holiday or another, and our elderly neighbors had these unusual numbers tattooed on their arms.
While I was never sent to Hebrew school, my family did begin participating in Passover. Our version was less than Kosher but was the perfect way to prepare our hearts for Easter. It’s a tradition we’ve continued and one worth considering for your family!
What is Passover?
Jews observe Pesach (in Hebrew) for seven days, beginning on the 15th of the Jewish month Nisan (usually in April). It begins with a special Seder meal and ceremony that is centered around remembering the exodus of Israel from Egyptian slavery.
Where is Passover in the Bible?
Instructions for the first Passover are set out in Exodus 12 & 13. The Israelites are slaves in Egypt and after 9 plagues, Pharaoh still refuses to let them go. So God gives Moses and Aaron instructions:
Each family is to sacrifice a lamb without blemish on the evening of the 14th day of the first month. They are to place the blood on the outside of their doorframes and eat the lamb roasted, along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. On the night of the 14th day, the angel of death will kill the first born sons of Egypt but will pass over the homes with the blood of the lamb on the doorframe. Everyone inside will be safe.
God commands that this become an annual celebration and remembrance that the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt. Ex 13:8-9 Tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.
Why should we celebrate Passover prior to Easter?
It Points to Jesus: As Christians we have the blessing of seeing how the Old Testament symbolically points to Jesus. Throughout the Seder there are Biblical illustrations and Jewish traditions that remind us that we have been rescued from slavery to sin by Jesus. The symbolism in Passover is unique and beautiful (more on that later).
It’s Part of the Easter Story: When the disciples were in the upper room and Judas left to betray Jesus prior to his death, they weren’t having any meal; they were celebrating Passover. The Easter season begins with the expectant Palm Sunday, we prepare our hearts with Passover, mourn on Good Friday, and celebrate on Resurrection Sunday!
It’s The 1st Communion: The upper room meal is not just important because it was the “last supper”, but because it was the Passover meal during which Jesus revealed that the unleavened bread is symbolic of his sinless body being broken and the wine symbolizes his blood to be shed for the sins of the world. When we celebrate communion, we are celebrating a new-Passover focused on Christ!
How to set up a simple Passover for your family:
Integrating it into your annual Easter season will enrich your week and focus your family on Christ.
Below are instructions for a fairly simple version of Passover (trust me, if you were Kosher it would be much more involved). It will still take a bit of preparation, but it’s a tradition that will prepare your family for Resurrection Sunday like no other.