Who Should Partake of the New Covenant Passover?

Who Should Partake of the New Covenant Passover?


Calvin Lashway

February 2008 Revised


Who should partake of the New Covenant Passover symbols of unleavened bread and wine? (Matthew 26:19-20, 26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Is it appropriate for unbaptized adults and children to participate in this ceremony? In this study we will see that only baptized individuals should eat and drink of these symbols.

The Old Covenant Passover

Uncircumcised non-Israelite males and their families couldn’t celebrate the Old Covenant Passover. If they wanted to, their males had to be circumcised. By this act of circumcision, they became “like a native of the land,” that is, an Israelite:


The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you” (Exodus 12:43-49, all scriptures quoted are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise stated).


Although God didn’t allow nonIsraelite to eat the Passover, He did require them to keep the Days of Unleavened Bread:


You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread” (Exodus 12:17-20).


Spiritual Circumcision

Spiritual circumcision comes through Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul calls it “the putting off of the sinful nature,” which happens at baptism:


In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2:11-13 New International Version).


Under the New Covenant, circumcision is spiritual, of the heart, not the flesh. It’s a circumcision that includes both men and women:


For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God (Romans 2:25-29).


Christians are the true circumcised of God:


Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision; for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more: circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless (Philippians 3:1-6).


Under the Old Covenant, only the physically circumcised and their families could eat of the Passover. Based on this, it’s fair to argue that under the New Covenant; only the spiritually circumcised should partake of the New Covenant Passover. Just as circumcision was a requirement for non-Israelite before they could eat the Old Covenant Passover. So a person must undergo spiritually circumcision, through baptism, before partaking of the New Covenant Passover.


Sharing in the Death of Jesus

Baptism has several profound meanings. The apostle Paul writes about one of these when he asks, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, . . . we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, . . . knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:3-8). Baptism is a uniting or sharing in Jesus’ death.


Another reason, unbaptized persons shouldn’t participate in the Passover ceremony, is that eating the unleavened bread and drinking the wine is a sharing in the death of Christ: “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). If an individual hasn’t shared in Jesus’ death, through the death of his old self at baptism, then he shouldn’t partake of these symbols, and share in something he hasn’t yet done.


What about Our Children?

Some people feel since children took part in the Old Covenant Passover, and the Israelites were to teach their children about its meaning (Exodus 12:25-27). Then it’s all right for their unbaptized children to take part in the New Covenant Passover.


There are difference between the Old Covenant and New Covenant Passovers. The Old Covenant Passover was physical and national in nature. While the New Covenant Passover is spiritual and individual in nature. The Old Covenant Passover limited participation to circumcised males and their families. The New Covenant Passover is open to all spiritually circumcised men and women.


The Old Covenant Passover is a memorial of God passing over the houses of the children of Israel, when He killed the firstborn of man and beast in Egypt during the night of Passover:


For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance (Exodus 12:12-14).


Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. When you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’" And the people bowed low and worshiped (Exodus 12:21-27).


The New Covenant Passover is a memorial of the death of Jesus Christ as the true Passover Lamb, which makes possible the forgiveness of sin, thus sparing us from “the wages of sin” which is death (Romans 6:23). We eat the broken bread and drink the wine in remembrance of the sacrifice of His beaten body and shed blood. This sacrifice makes possible the forgiveness of our sins. By partaking of the Passover symbols of bread and wine, we are proclaiming our continual faith in Jesus’ sacrifice:


Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7).


The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).


Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Peter 1:18-19 New King James Version).


And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:13-15, 19-20, also see Matthew 26:19-20, 26-29 and Mark 14:16, 22-25).


For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 New King James Version).


Only those baptized and forgiven of their past sins should take of the unleavened bread and wine. These symbols are a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Since children haven’t yet committed themselves to Jesus Christ through repentance and baptism. They shouldn’t participate in the Passover. However, there is nothing wrong with them attending the Passover service to see what happens. Parents should teach their children about the meaning of this ceremony. This would also apply to adults who are not yet ready for baptism.


As we have seen, non-Israelite stranger were to eat unleavened to bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:17-20). In like manner, unbaptized adults and children should also eat unleavened bread during the Feast.


Conclusion

Under the Old Covenant, only circumcised males and their families could partake of the Passover. Under the New Covenant only the spiritually circumcised should take the New Covenant Passover. When baptized we share in Jesus’ death. During the Passover we are again sharing in Jesus’ death when we eat the broken bread and drink from the cup of blessing. When the unbaptized eat the broken bread and drink the cup of blessing, they are not sharing in Jesus’ death, because their old self has not yet died with Jesus in the waters of baptism. The Old Covenant Passover is a memorial to God sparing the Israelite firstborn from death. The New Covenant Passover is a memorial to the death of Jesus Christ which makes possible the forgiveness of sin, thus sparing us from eternal death. Those individuals who haven’t yet had their sins forgiven shouldn’t partake of symbols which are a reminder of the sacrifice that makes possible the forgiveness of our sins.




© Calvin Lashway 2018  -  Contact: cinfowritings@gmail.com