Pastor Greg Scott guides us through some of our Hebrew Roots that connect the events of Passover, Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter. This is part one of a three-part series.
Today, in addition to being Palm Sunday, it is also the First Day of The Feast of Passover. Over the years, three different Spring feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits) all kind of merged into this one Feast we now refer to as Passover.
Originally the Passover EVENT occurred at sunset on the 14th of Nisan on the Hebrew Calendar and then the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th of Nisan – technically at sunset on the 14th. In the Hebrew calendar dates begin and end at sunSET rather than sunRISE.
This year, Passover, the 15th of Nisan, happens to land on Palm Sunday, though the Triumphal Entry of Yeshua into Jerusalem that we celebrate on Palm Sunday each year, actually occurred on the 10th of Nisan that year.
The Jewish Calendar is lunar-based so sometimes Jesus-related Hebrew holidays end up on the same days of our solar and lunar-based Julian calendar Christian holidays and sometimes they don’t. So, this can be a little confusing.
I’ve shared before that the seven feasts of the Lord outlined to Moses to share with the people in Leviticus 23 are referred to with the Hebrew word Mo’ed which means appointed times, or convocations, or can be understood as dress-rehearsals, symbols and practices for the real deal coming in the future. So the feasts are all dress-rehearsals for the real deal and Jesus, Yeshua is His actual Hebrew name, Yeshua, is the real deal. He fulfilled the three Spring Feasts when He came the first time.
He will fulfill the three Fall Feasts when He comes the second time and He fulfilled the one Summer Feast Shavuot/Pentecost, when He sent His Holy Spirit. You can dig deeper into that by watching my series “Divine Appointments” on our website from way back in 2015.
So Passover, and the other feasts, they aren’t just a Jewish thing. It is important for us as Christians, to understand our Hebrew roots and see why these feasts matter to us as well.
Let’s briefly recap the setting and story of the Exodus in case you never saw The Ten Commandments or if you have never read the Old Testament. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt for many years. God chose Moses as His prophet to approach the Pharaoh of Egypt to tell him “LET MY PEOPLE GO!” Pharaoh refused, so God sent ten plagues upon Egypt, each one worse than the one before. Still Pharaoh refused to free his Israelite slaves. The tenth and final plague was the death of all first-born animals and humans in Egypt. But, the Israelites were able to be spared from this plague if they followed God’s instructions. They were to take one lamb per household and slay that animal at sunset, in the front door of their home, and use the blood to paint the top and sides of their doorframe.
Then, when the angel of death descended upon Egypt to slay all the firstborn, if he saw a door post painted with the blood of the Lamb, that house was considered under the blood of protection. So it was passed over. God’s judgment passes over that which is under the blood, that which is covered by the blood of the lamb. That’s still true for us as Christians who are under the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.
Followers of Yeshua will be spared when judgment day comes. Our price has already been paid by the blood of Yeshua. Back to the Exodus. Pharaoh was finally convinced to let the Israelites go. Though He was both hard-hearted and hard-headed, so he changed his mind the next day and pursued them with his army. God split open the Red Sea, letting the Israelites pass through safely and then collapsed the waters on Pharaoh’s pursuing army, drowning all of them and rescuing the Israelites. That is essentially the story of Passover. The Israelites were redeemed from slavery and spared from judgment because the life of a sacrificial lamb was allowed to be substituted for them.
Later, God told Moses He wanted them to continue to annually commemorate their Passover redemption with the first of his mo’ed, the first divine appointment, the first dress rehearsal, the first feast, that again, we will see, ultimately points to Jesus. This was to take place on the 14th day of Nisan. Nisan is the first month of the Jewish religious calendar year. There is some preparation that takes place in the days of Nisan, just prior to Passover.
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, “On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.” – Exodus 12:3, 5-6
So, again, this killing of the lamb occurs at twilight, shortly before sunset on the 14th of Nisan and it ends up being eaten in the early hours of the 15th of Nisan. By Jesus’ time this practice had become institutionalized with all the lambs being brought to the Temple, examined by the priests at the Temple for four days to be sure they were without blemish and then properly slain at the Temple on the 14th, rather than in individual homes.
Jesus, therefore, SIX DAYS BEFORE the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. – John 12:1-2
Again, Passover is the 15th of Nisan, so that would make this dinner taking place on the 9th of Nisan, six nights earlier.
The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. – John 12:9
On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” – John 12:12-13
John calls this the next day, so this would be the 10th of Nisan, that was when the Triumphal Entry we just read about occurred. That’s what we are celebrating today as Palm Sunday – even though Palm Sunday is happening on the 15th of Nisan this year instead of the 10th of Nisan when it actually occurred. What else happens on the 10th of Nisan? Remember?
God said “Choose a lamb for yourselves that is spotless and without blemish, without fault and bring him to the temple where he can be examined for four days until Passover to be sure he is without fault.”
So here is what was going on at the temple on the 10th of Nisan, every year back then and during Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. All the chosen sheep were being led from the pastures in Bethlehem into the Temple at Jerusalem. The crowds gathered together every year at Passover around the entrance in the wall to Jerusalem called The Sheep Gate on the northern side of the Temple and they are singing the Hallel Psalms. (Hallel means Praise God). The praise God psalms are Psalms 113-118. This is the hymnbook for the high, holy feasts of the Lord. They sing these to the Lord every year in various locations and times. At this time, they are singing it at the Sheep Gate. Part of those Hallel Psalms include that last phrase we just read from John’s Gospel. “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Meanwhile, at the same time, Yeshua (Jesus) was entering Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate, also called the Golden Gate. Jewish tradition held that the Shekhinah Glory of God, the Divine Presence, used to appear through this gate to fill the Temple and that it would appear again one day when the Messiah finally came. So this gate was also known as the Messianic Gate. In Arabic, it is called the Gate of Eternal Life. So THIS is the gate through which Yeshua enters Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, which we commemorate as Palm Sunday, and His followers are singing the Hallel (The Praise God songs) To YESHUA — TO JESUS! You can see why the Pharisees were so upset and demanded that He tell His followers to be quiet and to stop singing these particular songs. Let’s just look at one part of Psalm 118:19-21. Again, they are singing this to Yeshua as He enters the Messianic Gate.
Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; The righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation. ~ Psalm 118:19-21
They sing to Yeshua, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the only way to the Father, the Gate, the Gatekeeper, the Door, the Narrow Path, the Way of Righteousness. They sing THIS, this person, THIS YESHUA, THIS is the gate of the Lord. It is important to note that the Hebrew word for salvation is also Yeshua. So they are singing to God, I shall give thanks to You God, for You have answered me and You (GOD) YOU have become my salvation, literally they are singing “You God have become my Yeshua, my Jesus.” VERY COOL!
So Yeshua enters Jerusalem at the same time as all the other Passover lambs and then, watch this, like all the other Passover lambs, He too is examined for four days until the Passover preparation day, the 14th of Nisan, when the Passover lambs are killed at twilight and Yeshua is crucified the same day as well. The Gospels tells us the Pharisees and Saducees and scribes all examined Him, quizzed Him, debated Him and tried to trip Him up but failed. Pilate and Herod both examined Him and found no fault in Him either. Pilate wanted to release Him. In other words, they all found no fault or blemish in Yeshua the ultimate Passover Lamb after examining Him for 4 days.
One of the key elements of both the Passover Event itself and the seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread which immediately followed was that no leaven (no yeast) was to be in the household during these eight days. To ignore this command was very serious and the judgment was that the offender would be cut off from Israel. I often share that in Scripture, yeast is sometimes referred to as a symbol of sin. This practice of removing all yeast products from the home is symbolic of removing all sin from your home and life. To say something is unleavened is to say it is without sin. With that in mind, look at this passage from 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. Paul writes to the Corinthian church who are boasting about their immoral sexual practices even during drunken communion celebrations. He says:
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. – 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Celebrate the Feast Paul says. What feast is Paul talking about here? Passover! Right? And He calls Yeshua, OUR PASSOVER. Literally, our Passover Lamb. Our Paschal Lamb who has been sacrificed. So just as the Jews clean their physical households from all leaven, we are encouraged to clean out our spiritual households of all sin since we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are to turn away from the leaven of sin, of immorality and be unleavened, full of truth.
In Jesus’s day, and in the households of observant Jews today, the week prior to Passover, Jewish people begin to clean their houses from floor to ceiling, eating or throwing away all leavened products. Then on the 14th of Nisan, on Passover’s Preparation Day, the mother of the household would hide a few leavened crumbs, symbols of sin, for the children to find. If dad has been nice to her all year she will hide it in the same place she did last year.
The father would take a lit oil lamp, (I’ll use this candle) a wooden spoon, a linen napkin, a feather and a red sash with him and gather the children. Together they would go search out the leaven. When they found the leaven crumbs, the father would instruct the children not to touch it, we don’t want to touch sin do we? Instead, the father would use the feather to sweep the crumbs onto the wooden spoon and then wrap the whole thing up in the linen cloth. Then they tie it closed with the red sash, kind of seal it shut. Then that would be taken outside the house to a communal area for the neighborhood where a big bonfire of everyone’s wooden spoon, feather, leaven and linen cloth were burned. The ashes would then be buried with dirt year after year. Some observant Jewish people still do this today, nearly 2,000 years after Yeshua’s day, nearly 3,500 years after the first Passover.
Now, as Christ-followers, we know that Yeshua, full of the Holy Spirit, often represented by a dove, feathers and all, took all our sins upon Him on the 14th of Nisan, technically on Good Thursday, and then allowed our sins to be nailed with His body (Kind of shaped like that wooden spoon) nailed to a wooden cross. After He died, His body (the spoon) was wrapped in linen cloths, carried outside of Jerusalem and buried in a tomb which was then sealed shut by order of Pontius Pilate. The power of our sins was buried in that tomb with Jesus but that power did not rise with Him when He rose victorious three days later. Keep all that in mind and let’s talk about the various symbols in this ritual of cleaning the leaven again, this time in the light of specific Scriptures.
Think about the oil lamp the Father uses to search out the leaven then read Psalm 119:105 and John 1:4-5
Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105
In Him (In Yeshua) was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. ~ John 1:4-5
Now, think about the feather used to sweep the leaven up and let’s read Psalm 91:4 and Mark 9:1-11
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. – Psalm 91:4
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” ~ Mark 1:9-11
In numerous places in Scripture, the Holy Spirit is pictured as a bird or as a wing or as a feather. Now think about that wooden spoon, a human figure, and a wooden stick, and let’s read Colossians 2:13-14.
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. ~ Colossians 2:13-14
The wooden spoon clearly reminds us of the body of a person and of the wooden cross, especially when we remember that leaven represents sin. God, through the acts of the Holy Spirit, took our sins, our transgressions, and swept them onto Yeshua and He became our sin, nailing it to the cross. Now think about that linen that the spoon, feather and leaven is wrapped in and the red sash that seals it shut as we read Mark 15:46.
Joseph bought a linen cloth, took [Yeshua] down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth (think of how the red blood from Jesus’ body would have looked like a sash of red socking through) and laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. – Mark 15:46
All that happened on Passover which is also the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. Hindsight really is 20/20 isn’t it? The symbolism is clear! The leaven is our sin. The feather is the Holy Spirit. We don’t touch our sin, but instead confess it to the Holy Spirit of God who lives inside of us. The Holy Spirit brushes our sin onto the wooden spoon, the cross, and puts it to death. Our Passover Lamb, our sin sacrifice, died on the cross and was wrapped in scarlet stained linen, and buried in a tomb. In the same way, the spoon & linen burned in a bonfire remind us our sins were once and for all destroyed, burned up in the fire of God’s judgment and the ashes are buried in the dirt. Paul says Yeshua is the only foundation on which we can build our lives. Then, listen to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15.
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. – 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
The Dress Rehearsal of Pesach (Passover) was fulfilled at the crucifixion of Yeshua. By the way, remember in the Gospels, when Yeshua drove the corrupt moneychangers out of the temple? You are about to make a new connection to what that event was all about. This takes place just after the triumphal entry/Palm Sunday, a few days before Passover, between the 10th and the 14th of the month of Nisan, while all the Jewish households are clearing out the leaven from THEIR houses.
Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling, saying to them, “It is written, ‘And My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a robbers’ den.” – Luke 19:45-46
What was Jesus doing? He was cleaning all the leaven – all the sin – out of His Father’s house in preparation for the Passover. It’s obvious NOW right? That’s all the time we have today but I have a lot more to say about this. I’m going to share part two of this on Good Friday this week. We won’t have a Wednesday service this week. Instead, we will meet on Friday. Please make that worship experience a priority this year and attend. If you are coming let Annette know today before you leave so we can be sure to have chairs lined up for every household. We’re going to talk more about Passover, and The Feast of Unleavened Bread. We’re going to pull all of this symbolism, and MUCH more, together in a way that will blow your mind. You will never think of the crucifixion in the same way. I hope you will join us.
~~~~~ LET’S PRAY ~~~~