The celebration of Passover – from Old to the New Testament


Why is the celebration of Passover so important?

Simply put, the Passover celebration commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt over 3,300 years ago. It serves to remind the participants of their redemption history, and God’s grace and power in delivering them from slavery.

The PJEFC pastoral team conducted 3 classes, covering the Passover celebration in the Old and New Testament, and finally drawing parallels between the Passover and the Last Supper. The classes culminated in the celebration of the Passover Feast by all the participants. This feast was presided over by none other than our very own Reverend Lim Kar Yong.

The Original Passover

The original Passover is where the LORD spared the Israelites from the plague that resulted in the death of the firstborns  –  the firstborn son of every Egyptian family and the firstborn male of all livestock. Three (3) elements were significant in this Passover:

Elements Significance
The blood sacrifice of the lamb without defect (i.e. not liable to death)
  • The firstborns of Israel were spared, redeemed by blood from the judgment. Israel as a nation became God’s own possession – every firstborn son and male of every livestock belongs to God
  • Sinless substitution is necessary
Unleavened bread
  • Signifies separation from all corruption and the Israelites haste in living Egypt (place of bondage).
  • Righteous living is necessary
Bitter herbs
  • The bitterness of Israel’s slavery
  • Sin is a slave master – it binds us

Subsequent Passovers

Subsequent Passovers were to be observed perpetually as a lasting ordinance, and celebrated as festival unto the LORD based on the description and instructions given in Exodus 12. It is to be:

  1. A combined festival comprising the Passover (celebrated at twilight on the 14th sday), and the Feast of Unleavened Bread for the next 7 days (from the 15th to the 21st)
  2. A period of worship and reflection
  3. A festive and communal affair
  4. Covenantal in nature
  5. A ritual with a didactic purpose, to remind the Israelites of their redemption history – God sparing the firstborn, their deliverance from slavery in Egypt and making them His people.


Passover in the New Testament

It was central to the Jewish religious practices during the time of Jesus and observed by the early Church. During the inter-testament period from the Old to the New Testament, additional elements 4-7 were added:


Elements Description
 1. Lamb (Pesach)
  • The word ‘pesach’ (Passover) applies to the Lamb of sacrifice as well as to the deliverance from Egypt to the feast itself
 2. Unleavened bread (Matzoh)
  • Known as the “bread of affliction”, it recalls the unleavened bread prepared for the hasty flight by night from Egypt. Today, the practice for the preparation of unleavened bread has to be completed in less than 18 minutes
 3. Bitter herbs (Maror)
  • This is a reminder of the bitterness of slavery and suffering in Egypt
 4. Salt water
  • This represents tears of sorrow shed during the years of captivity of the Lord’s people in Egypt, and also the waters of the Red Sea through which God delivered them and destroyed the enemies
 5. Haroseth
  • This is a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon and wine. It reminds the Jews of the clay with which they had made bricks during their slavery in Egypt.
 6. Wine
  • Although not mentioned in Exodus, the use of wine was considered by Jewish tradition to be essential. 4 cups of wine are drunk, each recalling the words of redemption spoken by God to Moses in Exodus 6:6-7: The Cup of Thanksgiving / Sanctification, the Cup of Haggadah / Deliverance, the Cup of Blessing / Redemption, and the Cup of Righteousness / Restoration. Wine is also dipped to remind us of the Ten Plagues of Egypt. This part of the Passover celebration was never commanded by God, but was added by Jewish tradition. This tradition is observed by Jesus during the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
 7. Seder Meal
  • A meal served after the drinking of the Second Cup of Haggadah / Deliverance

Note: Elements 1-3 were observed in the Old Testament. Elements

The Significance of the Passover Meal by Jesus before His Crucifixion

  • The reinterpretation of the elements of the Passover Meal, especially the unleavened bread and the cup
  • After drinking the 3rd Cup of Blessing / Redemption, Jesus mentioned that he will not drink of the cup until the day of the kingdom
  • After singing a hymn, Jesus and his disciples left to the Mount of Olives. Jesus did not drink the 4th Cup, He will only drink it again with us
  • Jesus as the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)

Parallels between the Passover and the Last Supper

The Passover The Last Supper
God remembered his covenant with Abraham A new covenant is enacted
Slavery in Egypt Slavery to sin
Deliverance from Egypt Forgiveness of sins
Blood of the Passover Lamb Blood of Christ, the Lamb of God
Interpretation of elements of Passover Interpretation of elements of the Lord’s Supper
Call for continual celebration Call for continual celebration