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 two of a three-part series.
Why do we call it GOOD Friday? Because that is the Friday that Yeshua became our once and for all time Passover Lamb, our salvation. Not so good for Him of course but a very good day for us.
Passover and Unleavened Bread place a strong emphasis on Matzah bread. Matzah has no yeast in it. It is unleavened. So, it has the consistency of a big cracker. Notice that it is pierced with many holes to let all leftover gasses out. Notice it is striped by the heating rack that it is baked on. So it is unleavened, pierced and striped. Keep that in mind and then let’s read these passages from Isaiah 53:4-5 and John 19:1, 18.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging (by His stripes) we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:4-5
Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him… And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head … There they crucified Him …~ John 19:1, 2, 18
Matzah has always been a symbol of Yeshua, the Bread of Life, the Bread that Came Down from Heaven, The Unleavened One who was pierced crushed and striped to pay for our sins. Yeshua’s forehead was pierced by the crown of thorns. He was also pierced in His in His wrists and calves, just above His hands and feet. He was pierced again by a soldier to be sure that He was dead. Let’s talk some more about what that final piercing represented.
250,000 Passover lambs were sacrificed in one day in the Temple. A representative of each family would come to the temple in one of several large groups, holding their lamb. An assembly line of priests would rapidly go through slicing the neck of each lamb. The priests would catch a cup full of the first blood spilled from each lamb and pour it out at the base of the altar. At the SAME TIME, Yeshua was bleeding from His scourging, His crown of thorns and His crucifixion piercings. His blood was flowing down the altar of His cross.
When the High Priest saw that all the household lambs had been slaughtered, that all had been accomplished, he turned to the sacrifice of the Passover Festival Lamb, the Paschal Lamb. After this, after 8+ hours of hot, busy work, he would say “I am thirsty.” Because He was able to take a break and have a drink for the first time. Then, all the sacrifices completed, he would announce to the assembly “IT IS FINISHED!” Ho Mashálam in Aramaic, in Greek Tetelestai. It can also be understood as “It is Completed” or “It is Accomplished”At the SAME TIME that was happening look at what was happening on the cross in John 19:28-30
After this Jesus, realizing that by this time everything was completed, said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty!”A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop and lifted it to his mouth. When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. ~ John 19:28-30
If each lamb spilled just one quart of blood that would still be 62,500 gallons of blood. That’s like 1,100 fifty-five gallon barrels of blood. The temple courtyard would have been swimming in it. Where did all that blood go? Well, there were special drains that allowed the blood to flow down into some channels that then flowed down the temple mount. The temple was built upon a hill. All the sewage and refuse from the city flowed down the channels as well. The channels ran through a gate to the city known as the Dung Gate (an apt name) and emptied into a valley known as The Valley of Blood (wonder why they called it that?) Built under the temple were several massive cisterns that held 10,000 gallons of water each. So, periodically, to flush these drainage channels out of all the blood that was collecting and coagulating in them, they would release gallons and gallons of water from these cisterns. What flowed out of the side of the Temple during the Passover sacrifices was a river of water and blood. At the SAME TIME, THAT was happening in the Temple, for the final time, after all the sacrifices had been complete, this was happening on the cross as Jesus, our Paschal Lamb was being slaughtered.
But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed. ~ John 19:34
Let’s jump over to the family sedar celebration for a little while. Before the Passover Sedar meal begins, three pieces of Matzah are placed inside of a bag called a Matzah Tosh (a Matzah bag).This one bag has three equal pockets. In Judaism, it is referred to as a unity of three in one. If you ask the rabbi’s what the unity of three in one represents you will get differing answers. Some will say it is a unity of the patriarchs of the faith, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Others will say it is a unity of worship with the Priests, the Levites, and the People? But mostly they will say “We don’t know what it represents. It’s tradition! As Christians though we know what the unity of three in one represents don’t we? The Trinity. One God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At the beginning of the celebration, the father reaches in and takes out the second piece, the middle piece (which we now know has always symbolized Yeshua) and he breaks it. Half goes back into the center pocket of the matzah tosh and the other piece is wrapped in a separate linen cloth or bag. Why?
Because Yeshua continues to be God, part of the Trinity, but He also comes to be one of us, our human representative. This piece is now referred to as the Afikomen. Afikomen is a Greek word that means that which comes later or could also be interpreted He that comes later or He that is to come, a foreshadowing of the Messiah. The Afikomen is wrapped in a linen cloth. Remember our wooden spoon last Sunday? The feather swept the leaven onto it and it was wrapped in a linen cloth and then destroyed outside the city. Just like Yeshua, through the Holy Spirit, took our leaven, our sins upon Him and destroyed their power on the wooden cross outside the city? Over time, another linen bag, like this one, began being used instead of a cloth. The father goes and hides the Afikomen away until after meal. It is buried away for a time if you will. It will be brought back out as part of the finale. Spoiler Alert. We’ll talk more about this in a little bit.
During the worship celebration, before and after the meal, each person drinks four full cups of wine, each with it’s own symbolic meaning. A full cup of wine is a symbol of joy. Many of you will agree I’m sure. Two cups happen before the meal. Two happen at the end of the meal. CUP 1: The Cup Of Sanctification – God promised to bring them out of Egypt. To set them apart as His people. To lift their burdens. This points to the work of Jesus as well. Yeshua tells us to cast our cares on Him for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. CUP 2: The Cup of Deliverance – God promised to deliver them from bondage, to break the chains of slavery and make them a free people again. Yeshua tells us the truth will set us free and that if the Son has set us free then we are free indeed. Again, these are both drank before the meal as part of the retelling of the Exodus story.
Other symbolic food elements are also on the table and eaten or referred to during the retelling to the Exodus, before the main meal. These are essentially worship illustration foods. Parsley, saltwater, horseradish, charoset (a delicious apple and walnut treat), other bitter herbs. Each has symbolic significance pointing to things like the bitter tears of slavery or the sweetness of God’s redemption. In modern times, also on the table is a brown egg and the shank bone of a lamb, the outstretched arm of a lamb. These two items, the egg and the bone, would not have been on the table in Jesus’ time. An actual sacrificed Passover Lamb would have been on the table instead. But now, because the Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70AD, lambs can no longer be sacrificed properly so Jews are not supposed to eat lamb on Passover anymore. The egg and the bone at the modern seder serve as stand-ins to represent the Festival Sacrifice (called the Chagigah) and the Passover Sacrifice. The egg represents the special festival sacrifice lamb that was offered at the feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. The bone represents the Passover lamb, a second lamb offered only at Passover.
The bone is significant because it reminds us of one of God’s rules for the Paschal Lamb. In addition to being a male, unblemished and without fault, no bones were allowed to be broken in the slaying or the eating of the Passover lamb. This unbroken bone of the lamb on the sedar table reminds us of that. Now, let’s read again from John’s account of the crucifixion. This occurs just before the spear is thrust into Yeshua’s side and the blood and water flow.
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, (The 14th of Nisan), so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (Saturday) (for that Sabbath was a high day), (A sabbath that also occurred in the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread) asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. (Explain how this speeds up death.) So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. – John 19:31-33
Yeshua, our Passover Lamb, had no broken bones either, another prophecy fulfillment. After retelling the Exodus story, the actual Sedar meal is eaten and then the participants drink the final two symbolic cups of wine and the worship concludes. We’ll talk about those final two cups in a minute. First, let’s go back and talk about that Afikomen again. Remember, the Father hid it away, buried it for a time at the beginning of the Passover Celebration. Right after the Sedar meal, in Passovers all over the world each year, the father of the household sends the kids off to seek for the Afikomen. Go look for that which is to come – or as we know itʻs true meaning now, go look for He that is to come, the Messiah. The one who finds the Afikomen brings it back to the Father and they receive a great reward. In the SAME WAY, when the children of God – the disciples – went and found the resurrected Yeshua, the true afikoman, who had also been buried away for a time, they received a great reward from the Father, both Abundant and eternal life. You see the obvious symbolism that has always been there yeah?
At this point in the sedar meal, the father pulls out the unleavened bread of the afikomen, says a blessing and then breaks it into smaller pieces, handing it to each person at the table. So, let’s go back to Yeshua’s Passover, what we call the Last Supper in our Gospels, as Yeshua fully interprets the passover symbols for the disciples the night before most would celebrate the feast. It is THIS piece of bread, THIS afikomen, representing He who is to come, the Messiah, that Yeshua takes and refers to here.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” ~ Luke 22:19
Next, the wine glasses are refilled and everyone drinks the third full cup. The third cup is called The Cup of Redemption/Messianic Cup. It represents thankfulness that the Jews were redeemed from slavery in Egypt. It is also a prophetic cup that looks forward to their ultimate redemption when Messiah finally comes. We know from Scripture that it is is THIS cup that Jesus used when He instituted the Lord’s Supper. Let’s look at it.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, (that means it is the third cup), saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” ~ Luke 22:20
They all drank the third cup together. In other words, this bread and wine represent my body and blood as your new, ultimate Passover Lamb. The cup of wine referred to here, the cup AFTER they had eaten the meal, the one Jesus used for what we call the Lord’s Supper, was the third cup of the sedar meal, the cup of redemption, also called the Messianic Cup. This is the cup that symbolized looking for the Messiah. And Yeshua announces He, the Messiah has come.
He also announces the arrival of a B’rit Chadasha. A New Covenant. As soon as the disciples heard this phrase they would have IMMEDIATELY thought of Jeremiah 31:31-34 where God make a future promise to the Israelites. This is a prophecy all of them associated with the Messiah and they all longed for it to be fulfilled. In Jeremiah 31 the Lord says:
“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant (In Hebrew, a B’rit Chadasha) with the people of Israel and Judah. It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34
No longer would animal sacrifice be required to cover sins. The spilled blood of Yeshua would do it once and for all time with this Bʻrit Chadishah, this new covenant issued by God. No need of daily sacrifices, no need of festival sacrifices anymore. Yeshua would pay it all. Gives you a completely different perspective on the Lord’s Supper doesn’t it?
There is one more cup that is drank at the Passover Sedar. The fourth cup is The Cup of Restoration. It reminds us of God’s promise to one day bring the people of Israel back to their promised land where they can be a nation at peace forever. We just read about that in Jeremiah 31 as well. It’s also known as the cup of praise. It is drunk during the singing of those Hallel Psalms we talked about last Sunday. Remember Psalms 113-118 are sang during the high, holy feast days of Israel. Remember the people were singing to Yeshua, to Jesus, as He entered through the Messianic Gate.
I shall give thanks to You (God), for You have answered me, and You have become my (Yeshua) salvation. ~ Psalm 118:21
The Levites were singing the Hallel Psalms in the Temple throughout the Passover Lamb slayings as well. Now, watch this. Listen. Listen. Don’t miss this. Matthew’s Gospel says, at the end of their Passover meal together…
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. ~ Matthew 26:30
Have you ever wondered what that hymn was that they sang? Amazing Grace? No. Just As I Am? No. Actually, if we know our Hebrew Roots, we DO KNOW what the hymn was. It was the same hymn Jews sing as the last song of every Passover Sedar meal. It was Psalm 118. They actually would have sung ALL of the Hallel Psalms as they drank this fourth cup of wine. They would have sung Psalms 113-118 but they would have ended with Psalm 118. That’s THE HYMN they sang to conclude their Last Supper Sedar. We’ve quoted from it once tonight let’s look at a couple other verses from it. After the Sedar was complete, the disciples sang again:
I shall give thanks to You (God), for You (God) have answered me, and You (God) have become my salvation. (In Hebrew, My Yeshua. You God have become my Jesus.) The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ~ Psalm 118:21-24
That’s part of what the people sang as Yeshua entered the Temple on the 10th, that’s part of what the Levites sang as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered on the 14th, and that’s what the disciples sang with Yeshua, in the early moments of the 14th, just after sunset on the 13th, just before they went out to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was soon betrayed, arrested, tried, tortured and crucified.
Now, I need to say one more thing about Psalm 118 and then I want to mention one other interesting fact that we would never know without understanding our Hebrew roots and then we will close with Communion tonight. Throughout the year, every day, there were two daily sacrifices conducted by the priests at the Temple. Those still happened, even on the festival days too. They were referred to as the morning sacrifice and the evening sacrifice. Those happened at 9 in the morning and at 3 in the afternoon. Also known as the 3rd hour and the 9th hour since the daylight began being counted at sunrise, typically around 6am. You may remember from reading the Gospels that Jesus was sent off to be crucified at the 3rd hour and He died at the 9th hour. The same exact times the morning and evening sacrifices were being conducted, the sacrifices, in addition to the Passover sacrifice, that He would ultimately replace with His crucifixion.
While those daily sacrifices were going on, there were also daily prayers taking place and people were singing —- you guessed it —- the Hallel Psalms every day at the 6th hour. You might also remember from your reading of the Gospels that it was at the 6th hour, noon, as Yeshua, the Light of the World, was being killed on the cross, that was when the sky turned dark as night. These hallel hymns were being sung then also. So think about this, while Yeshua is being crucified as the ultimate Daily Sacrifice Lambs, the ultimate Festival Lamb and the Ultimate Passover Lamb, this is what they are singing from Psalm 118.
May the one who comes in the name of the Lord be blessed. We will pronounce blessings on you in the Lord’s temple. The Lord is God, and he has delivered us. Tie the offering with ropes to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks. You are my God and I will praise you. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and his loyal love endures. ~ Psalm 118:26-29
Listen! Don’t miss this! Listen! At the SAME TIME they are singing these words, at the morning sacrifice at 9am, during the daily prayers at noon, and at the evening sacrifice at 3pm, as the priests are tying the daily sacrifices, the chagigah festival sacrifice, and the Passover sacrifice, to the horns of the brazen altar to kill them, at those same specific hours of the day, on Passover Preparation Day – the 14th of Nisan, GOOD FRIDAY, Yeshua, the one who comes in the name of the Lord is delivering us by being bound to HIS altar, the cross, hung on the cross, suffering and dying. At the same time the sacrifices are being made in the Temple, Jesus is being sacrificed for our sins. And all the people of Israel are singing about it the whole time but none of them recognize the significance. At the very time Jesus is being lifted up on the cross what are they singing? PSALM 118!
The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation (My Yeshua). Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” – Psalm 118:14-16
Yeshua, the Lord’s right hand, lifted high on the cross with outstretched arms, did indeed do mighty things. YAY GOD! There is SOOO much more to all of this. Way more time than we have tonight. Go watch my Divine Appointments series from 2015 on the website if you want to hear more. Each year I learn a little more and understand it all a little better. The last thing I want to share tonight is about the sign that was hung above Jesus’ head on the cross. Here’s what Scripture tells us.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” – John 19:19-22
When we understand our Hebrew roots …. We realize that the priests likely weren’t just upset about the claim that Jesus was the king of Jews. It was a much bigger deal than that. The Scripture tells us that this sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. If we take the first letter of each word in Aramaic. Here’s what we have.
Yeshua – Starts with the Aramaic/Hebrew letter Yod.
Of Nazareth – Starts with the Aramaic/Hebrew letter Hey.
The King – Starts with the Aramaic/Hebrew letter Vov.
Of the Jews – Starts with the Aramaic/Hebrew letter Hey.
In Hebrew and Aramaic, this is Yod, Hey, Vov, Hey. These four letters together are known as the Tetragrammaton. (Literally the four-letter word.) In English we would write it YHVH. In Hebrew/Aramaic, it is the four-letter word used for the name of God, Yahweh, sometimes misunderstood as Jehovah or Yehovah. The vowels aren’t written but they are pronounced. Pilate, essentially, wrote above Jesus’ head, YAHWEH, the name of God. No wonder the priests were so upset right? But we know now, it’s all true. God, Yahweh, the Lord, has become my salvation, my Yeshua, my Jesus. YAY GOD? And that’s what makes THIS FRIDAY – GOOD FRIDAY! AMEN?
If you have placed your faith in Yeshua as your Lord and Messiah, then I invite you to participate in the sacred remembrance of Communion, based in the practice of the Passover Sedar. Let’s receive Communion together. On the night Yeshua was arrested He gathered with His disciples for a final Passover Sedar Meal.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks He broke it, gave it to His disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is My body.” ~ Matthew 26:26
At this part of the sedar meal in Jewish homes, the father takes the afikomen and prays: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who nourishes the whole world in goodness, with grace, kindness and compassion. You give bread to all flesh, for Your love endures forever. And through Your great goodness we have never lacked, nor will we lack food forever, for the sake of Your great Name. For You are God, Who nourishes and sustains all, and does good to all, and prepares food for all Your creatures which You created. Blessed are You, O Lord. Amen. Would you hold up your wafer and reflect on all that you’ve heard tonight about Yeshua HaMaschiach, Jesus the Messiah? If you will put your faith in Him tonight as your Lord and Savior, as your Messiah and your God, then let’s say these words together.
This is the Body of Yeshua Hamashiach, broken for me. Let’s eat it together.
At every sedar meal, after the afikomen is eaten, the third cup, the cup of redemption is drunk. Lift up your cup of juice tonight and reflect upon it.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” ~ Luke 22:20
At this part of the sedar meal in Jewish homes, the father takes the third cup and prays: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth the fruit of the vine. Amen. Would you hold up your juice and reflect on all that you’ve heard tonight about Yeshua HaMaschiach, Jesus the Messiah? If you have put your faith in Him tonight as your Lord and Savior, as your Messiah and your God, then let’s say these words together.
This is the Blood of the Bʻrit Chadasha, the Blood of Yeshua Hamashiach, spilled out for me. Let’s drink it together.
At Jewish homes all around the world the Passover Sedar is completed, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins, with a hopeful thought.
Lʻshanah habaʻah bʻYerushalayim. May next year be in Jerusalem.