What does the Passover mean to me personally?
To all those who think that the Passover is an old Jewish tradition: Jesus Christ kept it all His life and introduced new symbols for us to keep on the night before His crucifixion – read Matthew 26 / Luke 22 for a short overview.
To all those who think that the Passover consists of only eating bread and drinking wine that was prayed about, miss another important dimension: The foot washing, which Jesus introduced as well during His last Passover – read John 13 for that. Christ clearly said that we are to do likewise (verse 15).
To all those who think that the Passover can be taken at any moment in time, even on a weekly basis: Scriptures clearly reveal that the Passover is only to be kept once a year on the 14th of Nisan – which is the first month in the Hebrew calendar. Exodus 12:6 mentions the 14th of Nisan for the first time – then it is repeated on many other occasions (Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3 etc). But most importantly: When did Jesus Christ keep His last Passover? You assume correctly: On the 14th of Nisan. We know this because the Pharisees took their Passover a day late (due to a misinterpretation of Scripture) and Christ died exactly at that time when they were eating their Passover lamb. So He kept the Passover the night before on the exact date that was commanded in the Bible.
Now with that said, we can continue. The Passover serves multiple purposes, of which the remission of sin is one: Christ died for us as an innocent lamb without guilt (John 1:29 “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”), but also as our creator and eternal God (“Mighty God, Everlasting Father” – Isaiah 9:6). We “proclaim the Lord’s death” (1. Corinthians 11:26) and commemorate the last days of Christ. We use the Passover to think about the past year and to search God in repentance for our past sins, knowing that only through Him we are given life: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
The Passover doesn’t exist for me to be cleansed only. Without repentance we can’t be cleansed since only repentance leads to change (Romans 2:4). Shall we continue to sin all year and then show up at Passover to be cleansed all of a sudden? The apostle Paul says: “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:2). He also says that “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
So what does the Passover mean to me? It means a moment in early spring in which I renew the covenant God has made with me by calling me out of this world (see John 6:44). It means a moment in which God tells me: “Your sins are forgiven”, but also a moment in which I am reminded to work hard on myself in order to sin less. Yes, God loves the sinner – because He knows how weak we are (Psalm 103:14 “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust”). However, He desires for us to be clean and pure as we will be clothed in white linen when Christ returns (Revelation 19:14). The apostle Peter said: “…you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit…” (1. Peter 1:22). The Passover is more than a ritual: It is the climax of a year as a Christian. I come before God in deep repentance and not only confess my guilt, but also to uprightly promise to give my best to become more like Christ. He was for us “a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1. Peter 1:19).
The old Israelite ritual of sacrificing a lamb without blemish was fulfilled by Christ (see Luke 23:45 – we now have access to the Father through Christ, compare also Hebrews 4:14-16). He is my Passover and every year I am reminded of His selfless sacrifice, the love of the Father who gave His son for us to be freed and of my own need of God’s forgiveness.
After the Passover ceremony I go home and feel clean indeed. I have humbled myself and showed a serving spirit by washing someone else’s feet, I have taken in the wine and the bread – symbols of Christ’s suffering and death – and have thought about God’s mercy on us.
I personally am looking forward to the next serious opportunity of celebrating God’s Passover. This year, 2013, it takes place on the evening of Sunday the 24th at sundown. When you are at home on that night and feel you have the need to keep God’s Passover (and we all are in dire need of it), I recommend you read John chapters 13 to 19 and think about your life – have you led a life the way God would like you to? And what can be changed about it?
The good news is: Christ was resurrected only three days later, on Saturday shortly after sundown (beginning of Sunday). We also have the promise that we will be made alive with Christ in due time. This is our calling: Romans 6:4 “…just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”