Easter – Passover Seder for Christians

A Christian version of the Jewish Seder supper that you can share with your family during the Holy Week of the Easter season. 

My wife Nancy is the finest woman I have ever known, and I rejoice daily that we have shared over 27 years of married life together. One thing about her and her family that I have always found so appealing is how they celebrate holidays. For Nancy, Christmas is not a day – it is a six-week party. Easter is the same way. We feast on Fat Tuesday, pray on Ash Wednesday, keep the Lenten season special, and celebrate the Holy Week, even though we are not Catholic. One important part of our festivities is a Christian version of a Seder Supper. The Seder is an important Jewish tradition, looking back at the deliverance of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, and looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. As Christians and Messianic Jews understand that the Messiah has come, we celebrate Christ.

Jews might eat roast chicken for the Seder, since lamb was reserved for the Passover. Typically, our family eats lamb (or roast chicken) and unleavened bread. We have bitter herbs (horseradish), sweet charoset (apples, nuts, cinnamon), and grape juice. I am not sure where the following came from, else I would give credit. But I encourage all of our readers to celebrate the Seder, and celebrate the Savior who is the reason for it.

Celebrating PASSOVER: THE SEDER

 

The Candles

Leader (eldest male of the family)                                           

As we light these candles tonight, we pray that God will light our hearts with His Holy Spirit. We want to understand how God has redeemed His people.

The woman of the house (lighting the candles)

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You have your own. We light these festival lights in your Name.

 

The Four Cups of Wine

Leader

When we were slaves in Egypt, God heard our cries. He chose Moses to lead us out of Egypt. These are the four promises that God made to Moses.

Reader 1:  “I bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”

Reader 2:  “I will free you from being slaves.”

Reader 3:  “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

Reader 4“I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”

Leader                                                                                           

We remember these four promises at Passover by drinking from our cup four times. The first is called the Cup of Sanctification, the second, the Cup of the Plagues, the third, the Cup of Redemption, and the fourth, the Cup of Praise.

 

The Cup of Sanctification

Leader (pouring wine into each cup)

(If you elect to fill the cup each time, instruct the, family to drink only one sip when it is time to drink the cup. if you want to drain the cup each time, pour only a small amount into the cups each time you are to fill them.)

This is the Cup of Sanctification or setting apart as holy.

Reader 1:  “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”

Family (lifting their cups)

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. (All drink.)

 

The Hand Washing

Leader

We wash our hands to remind us that God is holy. As we come before Him, we too must be holy. As it is written:

Reader 4

“Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3,4)

Leader (lifting the basin of water)

Let us share together in this hand washing ceremony.

(Pass the bowl. Each person dips his hands and passes bowl to next person.)

Leader

Let us also remember how Yeshua (yeh‑SHOO‑ah, or Jesus) took off His clothes and wearing a towel, washed the feet of his disciples.   In doing this, he showed that he came as a humble servant. We know that this water cannot really make our hearts clean. The only way that our hearts can be made pure and holy is by Yeshua’s greatest act of servanthood, his death on the cross.

 

The Karpas (pronounced KAR‑pas)

Leader

We now remember the tears of our people when we were slaves in Egypt.  As it is written:

Reader 2

“The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.” (Exodus 2:23)

Leader (lifting the parsley)(Celery may be substituted for parsley)

Passover comes in the spring, when we see new life around us. The karpas, or parsley, reminds us that life is a gift to us from our great and mighty God. The karpas is also like the hyssop plant which our forefathers used to smear the blood of the lamb on the door frame.

(lifting the salt water)

When we were slaves in Egypt, life was not easy.  It was full of pain, suffering, and tears. This salt water stands for our tears.

Family (dipping their parsley in salt water)

Blessed are you, 0 Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth. (All eat karpas.)

 

The Breaking of the Middle Matzah

Leader (lifting the Unity, or the plate which holds the three matzot wrapped in napkins)

At Passover, three matzot are wrapped together. They are called the “Unity”.  Jewish teachers have many explanations for this.  We who know Yeshua look at the Unity and see God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Leader takes the middle matzah out of the Unity, breaks it in two, replaces one half and wraps the other half in a linen cloth for the afikomen.)

I have taken the middle matzah and broken it in half. One half is wrapped and hidden. This is called the afikomen (pronounced ahfee‑KOH‑men), and it is an important part of the seder which comes after the meal. (hides the afikomen)

 

The Four Questions

Leader:  We now ask and answer the four questions. As it is written:

Reader 3

“When your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them.” (Exodus 12:26)

A Young Child:  Why is this night different from all other nights?

1)      On all other nights, we eat leavened bread. On this night, why do we eat only matzah, or unleavened bread?

2)      On all other nights, we eat all kinds of vegetables.  On this night, why do we eat only bitter herbs?

3)      On all other nights, we do not dip our vegetables even once.  On this night, why do we dip them twice?

4)      On all other nights, we eat our meals sitting.  On this night, why do we eat only reclining?

Leader

God has commanded us to answer these questions for our children. But we do so with thankful hearts, for the answers point to the great and mighty works of God.

Leader (lifting one matzah)

On all other nights we eat leavened bread, but on Passover we eat only matzah. This reminds us that when we fled from Egypt, we did not have time to let the bread rise Yeshua often compared yeast, which makes bread rise, with sin. He came to die and take away our sin.

Leader (lifting the maror, pronounced mah-ROAR)

On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on Passover we eat only maror, or bitter herbs. This reminds us of how bitter life was for us in Egypt. It also reminds us of life in slavery to sin.

Leader (lifting the charoseth, pronounced hah‑ROH‑seth)

On all other nights we do not dip our vegetables even once, but tonight we dip them twice. We have already dipped our parsley in salt water. Now we will dip our bitter herbs into sweet kharoset. This mixture reminds us of the mortar and bricks which we were forced to make as slaves in Egypt.

Leader

On all other nights we eat sitting up, but tonight we eat reclining. This is to remind us that now we are free from slavery. On the first Passover, we had to eat in a hurry, with our coats and sandals on, holding our staffs in our hands as we waited to be delivered from slavery. Now we may relax and enjoy this feast at our leisure.

 

The Story of Passover

Leader:  Now we tell the story of Passover.

Reader 1

Long ago, the Lord brought Abraham to the land of Canaan. God promised Abraham that this land would belong to his descendants. Abraham’s grandson Jacob left that land and moved with his family to Egypt to escape a famine. Jacob’s family grew, becoming our people, the Israelites.  Several hundred years passed and by this time, we had become a large nation.  The Pharaoh, or ruler of Egypt, feared that we would join Egypt’s enemies and fight against Egypt.  So Pharaoh decided to make us his slaves.  Even so, God blessed us with more and more children.

Reader 2

This made the Pharaoh even more nervous. He ordered his soldiers to throw every boy baby into the Nile River. One Israelite family hid their baby for three months. When they could hide him no longer, they put him in a basket and floated it out on the Nile River with his sister Miriam watching over him. The daughter of Pharaoh found the basket and decided to keep the baby and raise him as her own son. She named him Moses, which means “drawn from the water.”

Reader 3

Even though Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s court, he knew that he was an Israelite. He saw how we were mistreated by the Egyptians. One day, when he saw an Egyptian being cruel to an Israelite, Moses lost his temper and killed the Egyptian. He ran away from Egypt into a desert land where he worked as a shepherd.

Reader 4

The Lord heard our cries as we suffered at the hands of the Egyptians. He came to Moses in a burning bush and told Moses to go to Pharaoh. Moses was afraid, but he finally agreed that with the help of his brother, Aaron, he would go to Pharaoh and deliver God’s message to “Let my people go!”

 

The Cup of Plagues

Leader

Pharaoh did not want to let our people go. Every time Pharaoh said no to Moses, God sent a plague or disaster to Pharaoh and the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh hardened his heart and kept saying no. The tenth time, God sent the most awful plague. This plague caused Pharaoh to change his mind.

Family

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn ‑ both men and animals ‑ and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt; I am the Lord.” (Exodus 12:12)

Leader

It was the Lord himself who passed over us and struck down the firstborn of the Egyptians. In this way he delivered us from slavery. As it is written: On that same night I will pass through Egypt.

Family:  I, and not an angel.

Leader:  and strike down every firstborn‑both men and animals

Family:  I, and not a seraph.

Leader:  and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt;

Family:  I, and not a messenger.

Leader:  I am the Lord.

Family:  I myself and none other. (Exodus 12:12)

Leader (filling the cups)

We fill our cups a second time to remember that many people died during the plagues especially the last one, in order that God’s people would be set free.  We also remember what it cost for us to be set free from sin and death – the lifeblood of Yeshua.  As it is written:

Reader 2:  “I will free you from being slaves.”

Leader

Each of the plagues focused on a being that the Egyptians worshipped. As we say each plague, we dip our finger into the cup and drip the liquid onto our plate. Think about how God showed himself much greater than all the false gods of Egypt.

Family (each plague is said loudly in unison while dipping a finger and letting a drop of wine fall onto the plate)

BLOOD! FROGS! GNATS! FLIES! CATTLE DISEASE! BOILS! HAIL! LOCUSTS! DARKNESS! DEATH OF THE FIRSTBORN! (Do not drink the cup yet.)

 

The Dayenu

(Pronounced die‑AY‑noo, meaning “it would have been sufficient”)

Leader

God has been so good to us! We do not deserve His great and numerous blessings. Any one of His acts of mercy would have been enough to show His love for us.

Reader 1

With lovingkindness He redeemed us from Egypt, bringing judgment on the Egyptians and their gods.

Family:  Dayenu.

Reader 2

With awesome power He divided the Red Sea, allowing us to pass over in safety

Family:  Dayenu.

Reader 3

With tender care He protected us in the wilderness, feeding us with manna and providing for our needs.

Family:  Dayenu.

Reader 4

With great goodness He gave us the Law on Mt. Sinai. With triumph He led us into the promised land of Israel.

Family (lifting their cups)

Dayenu! How many are your great blessings to us. For each act of goodness we are abundantly grateful. Most of all, we are thankful for Yeshua the Messiah. In Him we have forgiveness of sins and abundant and everlasting life. Hallelujah! (Drink the second cup of wine.)

 

The Passover Lamb

Leader (lifting the shankbone of the lamb) This shankbone of lamb reminds us of the lamb that each Israelite family killed on the night of the first Passover. God commanded that we take the blood of the lamb and put it on the top and the sides of the doorframe of their house. As it is written:

Reader 1

“Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs.” (Exodus 12:7)

Reader 2

“That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast.” (Exodus 12:8)

Reader 3

This is how you are to eat it; with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.  Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover (Exodus 12:11)

Reader 4

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

Leader

We who trust in Yeshua the Messiah believe that He is our Passover lamb. just as it was God Himself who redeemed the Israelites, so it is God Himself, in the person of Yeshua the Messiah, who redeemed us once and for all from sin and death. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Leader (lifting the roasted egg)

This roasted egg is a special Passover offering. It is a symbol of mourning, reminding us of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is also a sign of new and eternal life. It is because of Yeshua, our Passover lamb, that we can have eternal life.

 

The Matzah

Leader (lifts the Unity)

Family

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Leader (takes the middle matzah from the unity, breaks it into olive size pieces, and distributes it to the family)

Let us now share the unleavened bread of Passover.

Family (holding the piece of matzah)

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You set us apart as your people and commanded us to eat unleavened bread. (All eat.)

 

The Maror

Leader (Pass horseradish. Each person scoops some onto a piece of matzah.)

Family (lifting matzah with bitter herbs)

Blessed are you, 0 Lord our God, King of the universe, who has set us apart by your Word and commanded us to eat bitter herbs. (All eat.)

Leader

The bitter herb reminds us of our persecution and suffering under the cruel hand of Pharaoh. just as the horseradish brings tears to our eyes now, so then did our great suffering bring tears to our eyes.

 

The Charoseth

Leader (Takes two pieces from the bottom matzoh and puts between them the charoseth, in a sandwich‑like fashion. Pass charoseth. Each person scoops charoseth onto a piece of matzoh)

Leader The charoseth reminds us of the mortar and clay bricks that we made as slaves in Egypt. (All eat.)

Leader

It was at this point in the Passover seder that Yeshua told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. When each asked, “Surely, not I?” Yeshua said that it was the one who dipped his bread into the bowl with Yeshua.

 

The Passover Supper

(Leader offers prayer of thanks for the meal. Supper is served and eaten)

 

The Eating of the Afikomen

(After the meal, the children hunt for the afikomen, the wrapped and hidden matzah from the Unity. The leader ransoms it back by paying money to the child who finds it.)

Leader (unwrapping the matzoh and showing the family)

We call this the afikomen, a Greek word. Jewish tradition has it that afikornen means dessert, but some scholars believe it comes from a root word which means “I have come.” Yeshua called Himself the bread of life. As it is written:

Reader 1

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.”‘

Reader 2

… I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”‘

Reader 3

“‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”‘

Reader 4

“‘Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”‘ (John 6:35a, 51, 54, 58b)

Leader

The matzoh is a picture for us of Yeshua and what He did for us. Look at how the matzoh is striped. As it is written:

Family

“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Leader:  Look at how the matzah is pierced. As it is written:

Family:  “They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10b

Leader

See how the matzah is unleavened. Leaven stands for sin. Just as this bread is without leaven, Jesus was without sin.  As it is written:

Family:  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:9, 1 Peter 2:22)

Leader

The middle matzah from the Unity was broken, just as Yeshua, the Messiah was broken with suffering and death.  We wrapped it in a white cloth, just as Yeshua’s body was wrapped in linen cloth for burial. Just as the afikomen was hidden, so Yeshua’s body was hidden for a short time in the grave. Just as the afikomen was brought out of hiding, so Yeshua arose from the grave.

Leader (lifting the afikomen)

Family:  Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Leader (breaking the afikomen and distributing it to all)

It was then that Yeshua added, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). Let us now eat matzah, remembering the broken body of the Lamb of God who takes awa

Leader (filling the cups)

Now we fill our cups a third time. (lifting the cup) This is the cup of redemption. It stands for the blood of the Passover lamb. As it is written:

Reader 3:  “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”

Leader

It was this cup, the cup of redemption, that Yeshua took after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).  Just as the blood of the Passover lamb provided salvation for us in Egypt, so Yeshua’s blood provides eternal salvation to all who believe.

Family (lifting their cups)

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Let us drink with thankful hearts, remembering the Messiah’s sacrifice for us.

 

The Prophet Elijah

Leader (lifting the extra cup from Elijah’s place)

This cup is for Elijah the Prophet. In Jewish tradition, one of the children opens the door to see if Elijah will come to the sederAs it is written:

Family

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and terrible day of the Lord comes.” (Malachi 4:5)

Leader

We who believe in Yeshua believe that Elijah has already come.  Yeshua spoke of John the Baptist as the Elijah who was to come, and it was John who said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).  We set this place for Elijah to recognize that he has come in the person of John the Baptist.

 

The Cup of Praise

Leader (filling the cups)

Now we fill our cups for the fourth and final time. This is the cup of praise. We praise Him especially because of His promise to us:

Reader 4:  I will take you as my people and I will be your God.” (Exodus 6:7)

Leader (lifting the cup)

With the cup of praise, we give thanks to God in the words of a psalm, just as Yeshua did with his disciples. After each phrase of thanksgiving, the family will join in saying, “His love endures forever.”

Leader: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: Give thanks to the God of gods.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: Give thanks to the Lord of lords.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: To Him who alone does great wonders.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: To Him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader:  And brought Israel out from among them.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: To the One who remembered us in our low estate.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: And freed us from our enemies.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: and who gives food to every creature.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader: Give thanks to the God of heaven.

Family: His love endures forever.

Leader:  Lifting our cups, let us bless the name of the Lord together.

Family (lifting their cups)

Blessed are you, 0 Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. (All drink.)

Leader

The prescribed order of the Passover service is now complete. May we remember throughout the year that our redemption is complete by the sacrifice of our Passover Lamb, Yeshua the Messiah.

Family:  Next year in the New Jerusalem!

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