We are rapidly approaching the Passover season. In the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities, Spring Cleaning has begun with earnest and the emails I am receiving detailing what needs to be done in order for one’s kitchen to be Kosher for Passover is overwhelming. I am a clean and tidy person but I would be going insane right about now if I was overwhelmed by the cleaning minutiae involved with being Orthodox and/or Ultra-Orthodox!
However, I am more concerned about the growing frivolity I see surrounding this most holy of Jewish festivals … and I think there is a reason for this irreverence (will explain later!). First, and to borrow from Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, I believe that Passover has become more about tradition than spiritual meaning. Going through the motions without really understanding what it represents and what it promises. In fact, there is a recent movie — When Do We Eat? — that best exemplifies this apathetic and lackadaisical concern over Passover (see YouTube link). For many Jewish people, Passover has become a four-hour meal and not the reality of what Moses and Jesus meant it to be.
Second, Passover sadly has become somewhat of a holiday to mock and not reverence. I have received emails lately about cartoons you can purchase that will keep the kids busy while someone is cleaning for Pesach. There is gourmet gefilte fish available for those who are turned off by this Passover traditional side dish. There are tsotchkes galore for anyone who wants to “spice” up the Passover holiday — including a Moses action figure, a seder plate mouse pad, or nail decals illustrating the ten plagues. I could write about additional items such as the Elijah’s Cup in which the wine “magically” disappears but I think you get the idea!
Third, the story of Passover itself has become somewhat passé for many Jewish people and the traditional Haggadah (booklet which provides an order and structure to the Passover meal) just doesn’t excite anymore. I have received emails from Kabbalists offering to sell me a Haggadah that “decodes” the hidden meaning of Passover (I already have four book … Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John … which does it for me!) as if the Hebrew Scriptures was not enough. There is a website (www.haggadot.com) where you can jazz up the old story of Passover with a “Muppets parody” or for those who are in a hurry and don’t have time to remember what God did for them almost 3500 years ago. The Orthodox have even entered the fray with a software program that allows anyone to “desire your own Haggadah.”
I believe that all three of the reasons given above are tied to the fact that 99% of all Jewish people do not know the end of the Passover story. An end that began as Jesus lifted the matzah and said this is my body and lifted the cup (of redemption) and said this is my blood. Passover has lost its importance because we as believers in Jesus have forgotten to share with them that Jesus is the Passover Lamb and the prophecy of Malachi 4 stating that Elijah would come as a forerunner of the Messiah was fulfilled when John the Baptist in John 1 stated — “Behold, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world.” There is no need for an Elijah’s Cup because we who believe in Jesus have drank of redemption and looking forward to the cup of praise at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as it is promised in Revelation. We who are Christians and churches have forgotten to tell them about a little used verse of Hebrew Scripture for the Jewish People that goes something like this …
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. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Isn’t it time that we brought Passover back to the Jewish people? A Passover that truly only has meaning through Jesus the Messiah … our Passover Lamb.