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The New Testament Passover Ceremony

Only Discerning Adults Should be Eligible For New Testament Passover

You must be eligible to take the Christian Passover.  Exodus 12:48-49, so today you must be circumcised spiritually, signified by baptism, Colossians 2:11-13. Even more, you should be mentally prepared by a period of self-examination, spiritual cleansing, and attitude adjustment, II Corinthians 13:5.

If at All Possible, Keep Passover With Brethren

If at all possible, you should keep the New Testament Passover with others of like faith. If you have to drive hundreds of miles, or undergo the expense of a bus, train or plane ticket, your desire to keep the Passover shows your respect for the sacrifice of our Savior.

Under the rare circumstance when you cannot meet with a group of the Eternal's people, you can keep the Passover in your own home alone, or with other eligible members of your family. If you meet the criteria described in Numbers 9:11, you may keep the "Second Passover" thirty days after the normal time in the same manner as the regular Passover. Here are general guidelines to follow.

Passover Ingredients

(1) Unleavened Bread can be obtained in many grocery stores, or you can make your own. Jewish Matzoth (also called Matzos) are commonly sold in America during the Passover season. Usually they are made from white flour, which is not as good as whole wheat flour. Rather than using inferior commercial products made from white flour, why not make your own unleavened bread for Passover? Here is a simple recipe for flat bread (unleavened bread) for use during the Passover service:

Use these ingredients: 1 Cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 Tsp. salt, 1 Tbsp. butter, 2 Tsp. oil, 1/4 Cup water.

Sift flour and salt and mix butter into flour until it resembles peas. Mix oil and water and add to flour. Mix until it leaves the sides of the bowl. Put a small amount of flour on your breadboard and knead dough lightly. Add a small amount of flour and press flat with hand. Then roll out as thin as possible. Pick up, turn over and roll out again as thin as possible. Perforate with a fork and bake for eight minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other unleavened products may include some Rye Krisp products, hardtack, and some crackers. Be sure to read the label. There should be no yeast, soda, baking powder or other leavening agent in the ingredients.

(2) Natural red wine is also a necessary Passover ingredient. Grape juice is NOT proper for Passover, and was never used at Passover by the Messiah, ancient Israel, or the original uncorrupted New Testament Church. Grape juice is dead. Wine has LIFE, and therefore symbolizes the blood (the life) of the Messiah, which was shed for our sins. Pure fermented wine was used at the "Last Supper."

Obtain a natural red unfortified wine, such as burgundy or zinfandel, with an alcoholic content of between 10% and 13%. Wines containing a higher alcoholic content are fortified with grape brandy and should not be used for Passover service. Red burgundy wine is one of the best kinds for Passover use. (It is also ideal for medicinal use throughout the year.) Naturally fermented wines usually have a cork.

(3) Pans, Towels and Water are important accessory items. Each participant should bring a wash pan and towel to the Passover service for footwashing. The host can prepare a bucket of warm water just prior to the beginning of the service. Water can be poured into the pans as the footwashing ordinance begins.

(4) Bible and Hymnals are another vital Passover ingredient. Scripture reading is a main part of the Passover Service. Let everyone have a Bible to follow along as the verses are read. Have a Bible Hymnal at hand to sing a Hallel Psalm before dispersing.

(5) A Quality Tray and Cups are optional items that can enhance the dignity and beauty of the Passover ceremony. If special hardware is used, it should be simple and not ostentatious, yet of the highest quality you can reasonably afford. The purpose is not to impress anyone, but to give honor and glory to the Eternal, "for glory and for beauty," Exodus 28:2. Place the unleavened bread in something such as a simple sterling silver tray, covered by an immaculate white linen napkin. Pour a small amount of wine in little glasses or wine goblets on a tray or table. Make sure the room is prepared very neatly and clean, Mark 14:14-15.

Of course, circumstances may dictate a service with very simple or no utensils. However, if you are able to prepare in advance, the simple elegance of silver and crystal service used only once a year for this very special occasion can add a meaningful dimension to this most holy sacred ordinance. For those interested, we can obtain Passover trays and cups at wholesale prices. Be careful! The cups and tray can be clean without, and the hearts and minds of the partakers can be full of spiritual filth, Matthew 23:25.

Preparing for the Passover Service

Who? Those able to discern the Lord's body. "So then whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in a way that is unworthy [of Him] will be guilty of (profaning and sinning against) the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man [thoroughly] examine himself, and [only] when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discriminating and recognizing with due appreciation that [it is Christ's] body, eats and drinks a sentence -- a verdict of judgment -- upon himself. That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason many of you are weak and sickly, and quite enough of you are fallen into the sleep of death. For if we searchingly examined ourselves -- detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition -- we should not be judged and penalty decreed [by the divine judgment]," I Corinthians 11:27-31, Amplified Version.

Eat the bread and drink the cup. Show forth, demonstrate, your willingness to live the life of obedient service as our Savior did, and give evidence of your thankfulness that He died for our sins. Reverently keep the Passover, with great joy!

 

When? Be prepared to observe the sacred ordinance in the evening, after sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar, called Nisan or Abib 14. Some have observed the Christian Passover soon after dark, about 7:30 P.M. in temperate climate zones. The Passover in Egypt was completed before midnight. Our Savior's "Last Supper" lasted for several hours and around midnight He and the disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemene. The Bible does not give a specific time in the evening to begin the Passover service. During the time when a lamb was killed, roasted and eaten, the killing was done at sunset and it took some time to roast the lamb. It is safe to conclude that the Passover meal didn't begin until After Sundown or, perhaps even later. It was concluded by midnight.

Where? Keep the Passover in a quiet, prepared room. Make sure the room is prepared ahead of time with everything in perfect order. Have a small amount of the unleavened bread, and small glasses or cups of wine (one for each person) prepared on a tray or table. Cover the emblems with a clean white napkin.

How? When the time has arrived, let everyone come into the prepared room quietly, reverently, and sit down. Individually, each adult should spend a few minutes of  scripture reading. Here are some suggested verses: Isaiah 50:6, 52:14-15, Isaiah 53, Psalms 22, I Peter 2:21-25, Psalms 51, Psalms 103. Think about how much you need the sacrifice of your Savior to be applied to your sins. None of us are "worthy" or better than any other mortal human being. We have all sinned and need forgiveness and mercy. This should put us in the proper frame of mind to take the Passover.

Conducting the Passover Service

Let the elder or host (this may be the husband or father if only one family is observing the Passover) conduct the solemn service. The Passover service is not a somber time, but it is a serious time. There should be no visiting, talking, laughing, joking or trivial conversation. This is the most important occasion of the entire year, and should not be taken lightly.

The elder should remind everyone at the start of the service that this is the most solemn and sacred occasion of the year, the anniversary of the suffering and death of our Lord and Savior, a memorial service of His death. Read Luke 22:7-8, 14-15; Matthew 26:17, 26-30; I Corinthians 11:23-30; John 6:32-58 and John 13:1-17. There may be other scriptures read and a brief message given relating to the occasion. Care should be taken not to rush through the reading and other portions of the ceremony. This is a dignified, respectful and awesome time of meeting with the Eternal! Think about the important meaning of each act you do.

Then, if two or more people are participating, (1) wash one another's feet, using the wash pans and clean towels prepared previous to the service. If there is a group, have the men retire to an adjacent room to wash one another's feet. Pair off and have one person wash his/her partner's feet, then switch places. By humbly following the Messiah's example in John 13, footwashing demonstrates that we should be willing to go the extra mile in forgiveness to others and in service to others. He who is the greatest in the Messianic kingdom is the greatest servant.

Reassemble after putting away neatly the pans, towels, and disposing of the water. When all is again quiet, the elder will take off the napkin over the bread. He may read Matthew 26:26; I Corinthians 10:16-17; I Peter 2:20-24; Isaiah 53:1-7 and 52:13-14. Christ's example of suffering for us should teach us of what we must also be willing to do for righteousness' sake. The elder or someone he chooses should give thanks and ask God in prayer to bless the bread, the symbol of our Savior's body broken for us, for our physical healing. Ask God for the heart and mind to promote unity and peace and glorify Him as members of His body. Then the elder (2) breaks the bread in pieces and passes it around for all to take and eat. At this time, he may recite I Corinthians 11:23-24. As you quietly and solemnly eat the small piece of unleavened bread, think of the suffering that our Savior went through so that we might be healed of all our infirmities.

Now it is time for the wine. Read these scriptures: Matthew 26:27-28; Hebrews 9:11-15; I John 1:7; Ephesians 1:7; and Colossians 1:20-22. Uncover and ask the blessing on the wine as the symbol of Messiah's blood shed for the remission of our sins. Thank God for giving us His only Son to die for us, washing us clean that we might be reconciled to God. Thank Him for Christ's willingness to submit to His Father's will, even to death. Then (3) pass the wine, each one taking a glass and quietly, reverently drinking it as a renewal of the New Covenant, the acceptance of the blood of the Master for the remission of our sins.

Replace the glasses on the tray or table, along with the unused bread, covering them with the napkin.

Scripture Reading

Next comes the scripture reading of the portions of the Bible recording Christ's last words to His disciples just after the Lord's Supper. It includes the real "Lord's Prayer," His earnest prayer to the Father to care for His beloved followers after His death. The sections from John 13:18--17:26 may be read in portions previously selected. Sometimes it is good to read from a modern version, such as the New King James Version, or Amplified Bible, in order to vary the program from year to year.

Hymn and Dismissal

After scripture reading, the service is not complete without a hymn. This follows our Savior's example, found in Matthew 26:30. Jewish tradition says the hymn sung at Passover was the Hallel, Psalms 113-118. An excellent hymn from Psalms 114 is "When Israel Went Out of Egypt," from the Worldwide Church of God Bible Hymnal. If you don't have an appropriate hymn, you may want to simply read aloud as a group one or more of the Hallel Psalms. The "Hosanna Section" of the Hallel was chanted by the crowd who welcomed Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, Psalms 118:25-26, Matthew 21:9. "Save now" in Hebrew is "hosanna." Don't forget this important part of the service!

It has been a custom in the Church of God to dismiss following the hymn, without a closing prayer. The Hallel Hymn is a prayer.

Cleaning Up

 Afterwards, the elder or host should destroy any portion of the bread and wine left over which was part of the service and had been blessed. This custom is based upon Exodus 12:10. Prior planning and preparation should minimize any excess. Only such bread and wine taken into the room and prayed over, need be disposed. Burn the left over bread and pour any remaining wine down the drain, or on the ground outside.

After Passover: Prayer, Study and Meditation

If you return to your normal occupation or secular activities right after the Passover ceremony, you may lose part of the full meaning the Almighty intended. The Passover service is not a quick ritual to get over with and immediately go about our daily business. It was a custom in Jesus' day to stay up all Passover night, studying, praying and reciting Scripture. The disciples and Jesus apparently followed this tradition. Judas knew Jesus would be in His usual place of meditation, the Garden of Gethsemene. The Master scolded the disciples for not being able to stay awake with Him, Matthew 26:40-41.

The Eternal's instruction to Israel concerning the Passover states, "And thou

shalt roast and eat it [the Passover lamb] in the place which the LORD thy God shall chose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents," Deuteronomy 16:7.

Based upon these indications, it appears to be a good practice to spend a considerable time of study and prayer after the Passover service.

A Serious Time of Self-Examination

In summary, the New Testament Passover service should be a dignified, reverent time of reflection and self-examination. It should NOT be slipshod, casual or a boring routine, but awesomely significant and meaningful whether it is the first time you have kept it or the fiftieth.

"So then whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in a way that is unworthy [of Him] will be guilty of (profaning and sinning against) the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man [thoroughly] examine himself, and [only] when he has done so should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discriminating and recognizing with due appreciation that [it is Christ's] body, eats and drinks a sentence -- a verdict of judgment -- upon himself. That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason many of you are weak and sickly, and quite enough of you are fallen into the sleep of death. For if we searchingly examined ourselves -- detecting our shortcomings and recognizing our own condition -- we should not be judged and penalty decreed [by the divine judgment]," I Corinthians 11:27-31, Amplified Version.

Eat the bread and drink the cup. Show forth, demonstrate, your willingness to live the life of obedient service as our Savior did, and give evidence of your thankfulness that He died for our sins. Reverently keep the Passover, with great joy!

 Written by: Richard C. Nickels  edited by Jarvis Windom