The New Covenant Passover

The New Covenant Passover

Calvin Lashway 
February 2014
 

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I assemble each year with fellow believers to observe the New Covenant Passover, on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan; which usually falls in March/April on the Gregorian calendar.  In doing so, we are following the example and command of Jesus to gather and eat unleavened bread and drink wine, symbolizing His body and blood. 

On the last night of His life, Jesus met with the apostles to observe the Passover (Matthew 26:17-21; Mark 14:12-18; Luke 22:7-16; John 13:1-4). The origins of the Passover date back to Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian slavery as described in the Book of Exodus. God commanded Israel to annually commemorate the original Passover meal, which included the eating of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:6,8,14; Leviticus 23:4-5; Numbers 9:2-3).  During His final Passover, Jesus made changes in how His followers should observance future Passovers. They where to wash one another's feet, eat unleavened bread and drink wine, instead of consuming lamb, and bitter herbs (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-20; John 13:4-17; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

The early New Testament church obeyed Jesus’ command to keep this New Covenant Passover. In the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he writes of their observance of the New Covenant Passover or Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:17-34). As well as the Feast of Unleavened bread, a seven-day festival immediately following Passover (1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Leviticus 23:4-8).

Like the early church, we gather each year to observe the New Covenant Passover. Where we remember and proclaim Jesus’ death. The New Covenant Passover is a memorial of Jesus’ death as the true Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:1-14; John 1:29, 35-36; 1 Corinthians 5:7). We eat the broken unleavened bread, and drink the wine in remembrance of Jesus’ physical suffering and shed blood (1 Corinthians 11:23-26); a sacrifice making possible forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption  (Matthew 26:27-29; Colossians 1:20-22; 1 Peter 1:18-19). 

Furthermore, the eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine are reminders that we share or participate in Jesus’ death. When someone repents, and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins; their “old man” or “old self” is crucified with Him. Partaking of the Passover symbols is a reminder of our participation or sharing in Jesus’ death through the death of our old self. Passover is also a reminder of our commitment made to God at baptism. It is a time of spiritual renewal and rededication to God the Father, and His Son Jesus. Passover reminds the individual Christian that we are part of a much large whole, the body of Christ, because of our partaking of the one bread - Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

The Meaning of the Passover Symbols 

Foot washing  

During Jesus’ last Passover, He rose from the supper table and washed His disciples feet. Jesus then commanded His disciples to follow His example. There are important lessons we learn from washing another person feet.


Humility
This act of humility and service by Jesus to His disciples, teaches us that we should in humility serve others.  We must have more then just an attitude of humility and service; we must have actions of humility and service (Luke 22:13-15, 24-27; John 13:1-17; Philippians 2:3-8).

Baptism and Forgiveness
Additionally, foot washing is a reminder of our baptism and cleansing from past sins; as well as a reminder of the cleansing we can receive for sins committed after baptism (John 13:8; Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:25-27; Titus 3:3-6; Hebrews 10:19-22; 1 John 1:6-2:2).

Unleavened Bread
The broken bread symbolizes the physical suffering Jesus endured over the hours leading to His death: the beatings, scourging and crucifixion. In and on His body Jesus carried mankind’s sins, sufferings, sicknesses and sorrows; we eat the unleavened bread in remembrance of His sacrifice. Eating the unleavened bread shows our continual faith in, and acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. It is through His sacrifice that eternal life is made possible (Isaiah 52:13-53:12 Green's Literal Translation; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; John 6:32-35, 47-58; Luke 22:14-15, 19).

Wine
The wine is a symbol of Jesus’ blood shed for the forgiveness of sins.  We drink the “fruit of the vine” in remembrance of Jesus and His sacrifice for us. In drinking the wine, we shows our continual faith in, and acceptance of Jesus’ shed blood for the forgiveness of sin (Matthew 26:19-20, 27-29; 1 John 1:7-9; Hebrews 9:11-15; Ephesians 1:7).

Jesus’ Final Words

The Gospel of John records Jesus’ final words on the night of His last Passover.  These words to His disciples and His prayer to the Father, give additional meaning to our understanding of the New Covenant Passover: Betrayal (John 13:18-30), Love one another (John 13:31-35), Peter’s Denial (John 13:36-38), Comforting the disciples (John 14:1-4), Jesus is the way to the Father (John 14:5-14), The promise of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-31), Abiding in Jesus (John 15:1-17), The world will hate the disciples (John 15:18-27; 16:1-4), The work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:5-16), Grief will turn to joy (John 16:17-33), Jesus prays for Himself (John 17:1-5), Jesus prays for His disciples (John 17:6-19), Jesus prays for future believers (John 17:20-26).

When observing the New Covenant Passover we are remembering and proclaiming Jesus’ death.  Our partaking of the symbols of His body, the bread, and wine, show a continual faith in Jesus and His sacrifice. 


1 Christians under the New Covenant should observe these festivals, as well as the other festivals of Leviticus 23, which are shadows pointing to Jesus and His work of salvation (Colossians 2:16-17). For more information on this subject see the book by Ronald L. Dart, The Thread: God’s Appointments With History, especially, Appendix 2 “In Defense of the Holydays,” Wasteland Press, Shelbyville, KY USA, 2006. A PDF version of this book is available at: http://www.rondart.com/E-Books/The%20Thread%20ms.pdf. For two shorter online articles addressing this subject see: Religious Holidays or God’s Holy Days?http://www.cgom.org/Publications/Articles/ReligiousHolidaysOrGodsHolyDays.pdf by James McBride, and Are Biblical Holy Days for New Testament Christians?http://www.ucg.org/god039s-law/are-biblical-holy-days-new-testament-christians/ by Larry Neff.







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