The commanded regulations as well as the Hebrew traditions associated with the Passover are beautiful and insightful prophetic pictures of Messiah Yeshua – Jesus Christ.
“Search for Leaven”
“Chametz” is the Hebrew word for leavened grain products. Leaven is an agent, such as yeast, that causes batter or dough to rise, especially by fermentation. It is written in the Torah (the “Five Books of Moses” or Pentateuch) that during the week of Passover (the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread coincides with the day of Passover) that the Israelites should –
Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. Exodus 13:7
The “Search for Leaven” which takes place the night before the Passover Seder contains some beautiful traditions. After bread and other leavened products are removed from the family’s food cabinets and pantry, a candle is lit and there is a search for any leftover crumbs. The crumbs are whisked by a feather into a wooden spoon and collected into a linen napkin. The leaven is then burned.
Leaven is a symbol of pride (self being puffed up). The lit candle is a picture of the Word of God which is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105). The feather symbolizes the Holy Spirit who came upon Jesus as a dove (John 1:32). The wooden spoon symbolizes the cross and the crucifixion of Jesus. The linen is a picture of the burial shroud of Jesus. The collected leaven that is burned is a picture of the punishment for sin – eternal hell fire.
The tradition of the Search for Leaven when viewed with spiritual insight and understanding is a picture of:
- The Word of God revealing sin in our lives
- The ministry of the Holy Spirit to bring us to Jesus
- The finished work of Jesus on the cross
THE SEDER PLATE
All of Israel was commanded to eat the Passover lamb along with matzos (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs: They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Numbers 9:11b
Since the destruction of the Second Temple, there have been a number of items that have been added to the commanded elements of lamb (“Zeroa” or lamb shankbone), unleavened bread (“Matzos”) and bitter herbs (“Maror”) that now comprise the traditional Seder plate:
The “Baytzah” is a hard boiled egg which is placed on the plate to symbolize the regular festival temple sacrifice.
“Charoset” is a mixture of apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon or other spices to represent the mortar that the Hebrews used when they were slaves in Egypt.
“Chazeret” meaning a bitter vegetable (lettuce or celery) is a reminder of the bitterness of the lives of the Hebrews in bondage.
“Karpas” is a vegetable, parsley or potato, which is dipped in salt water to represent tears.
Although there have been additions, the centerpiece of the Seder plate remains the lamb shankbone. The commandments in regards to the preparation of the Pesach (Pascal lamb) are very specific:
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire-head, legs and inner parts. Exodus 12:8-9
“It must be eaten in one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.” Exodus 12:46
The lamb was to be roasted and not eaten raw or boiled. None of the bones of the sacrificed Passover lamb were to be broken.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. John 19:31-34
The thigh bones of the two men who were crucified along with Jesus were broken. This was done in order to hasten their death. Unable to push up, they would soon die of suffocation. Jesus, having already died, was pierced in his side.
John the Baptist seeing Jesus approaching proclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29b). Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed and his bones were not broken, instead He had been pierced. In his death, Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10.
These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” John 19:36-37
The Zeroa (an unbroken lamb shankbone), is a portrait of Jesus, the sacrificed Lamb of God.
The Middle Matzah
Orthodox Jews claim that the term afikoman means “dessert” in Aramaic. Aramaic was the common spoken language of the Jews after their return from the Babylonian captivity. Messianic Jews (those who believe that Yeshua [Jesus] is the Messiah [the Christ]), and Christians who have studied Greek, say that the term afikoman means “He came.” Whatever the derivation of the term, the afikoman is another “Passover Portrait of the Messiah.”
At the beginning of the Seder, there are three pieces of matzah that are presented in napkins or in a “Matzah Tosh” (matzah bag). The middle piece of matzah is broken. The largest piece is wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden. The children have an opportunity to search for the afikoman. At the end of the Seder, the person leading the service will offer a reward to the child who finds it. For the unsaved Jew, the hunt for the afikoman serves to keep the children involved and awake during the long service. But, if you have the spiritual eyes to see, there is a much more important significance to the hunt for the middle matzah.
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. John 6:33-35
Not only is Yeshua (Jesus) the perfect lamb without blemish, He is also the unleavened (sinless) bread who came down from heaven. The three matzos are a picture of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The second person of the Godhead is represented by the middle matzah (afikoman). The ritual of breaking the middle piece of unleavened bread and placing it into a linen napkin is symbolic of the body of Messiah being broken and wrapped in a linen shroud.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19
Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. Luke 23:50-53
Jesus instituted the New Covenant in His own blood at the Passover. When He took bread and broke it, it was unleavened bread. In the much the same way that the other elements of the Passover symbolized historical events related to the Exodus, the breaking of the unleavened bread symbolized the immediate future breaking of His body. The ceremony of hiding a broken piece of matzah in a linen napkin and then recovering it at the end of the meal is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.