Generally speaking, most Christian/Messianic seders will follow the traditional Jewish seder and “point out the Messianic parts” for those in attendance. One of the hallmarks of the Christian/Messianic seder is related to the matzah on the seder plate. It’s not uncommon to hear the leader of the seder say something like, “there are three loaves of matzah on the plate, this is called a unity, and there are many interpretations of what it symbolises”. The leader mentions some of the traditional Jewish interpretations of the three matzot, mentioning that some say it represents the three Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), some say it represents the classes of the Jewish people (Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites), but then they say that it really represents the three persons of the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). “If it didn’t represent the trinity,” they might say, “why is the middle matzah broken and hidden away?” They then point out that Isaac and the Levites were never broken and hidden away, so it can only be Jesus/Yeshua since he was “broken” by the crucifixion and hidden away in a tomb for three days. After the meal, someone will “redeem” or “buy back” the afikomen from the child who finds it, sometimes for 30 pieces of silver to symbolise the price allegedly paid to Judas Iscariot for delivering Jesus/Yeshua to the authorities. Many will take it a step further and point out that the matzah is pierced and there are darker areas on it that resemble bruises, and they supplement that by saying that Jesus/Yeshua was pierced and bruised during the last few hours of his life, and they may even quote Yeshayahu/Isaiah 53:5 to show that this was fulfilment of prophecy in their theology. The leader will point out that the afikomen, the piece of matzah broken off of the second matzah on the plate, represents the Pesah offering that was eaten last, and they will back that up by saying that the apostle Paul said that Jesus/Yeshua is the Passover lamb. This all seems pretty sound in Christian/Messianic theology until you look deeper than what the leader tells the seder group, and there are some pretty obvious problems that need to be addressed.
Despite what the leader might say to the group, the Christian/Messianic seder is based on a Medieval Ashkenazi seder, and that’s not the only way that Jews have observed the Pesah over the years. Halachah (Jewish law) does not require three loaves of matzah on the seder plate, it only requires two, and many Sefardim and Mizrachim keep this minimum requirement since there’s no need for a third loaf of matzah. While it is true that there are different opinions as to what the matzah loaves on the plate symbolise, the symbolism is an “innovation” of different rabbis to teach further insight into the seder, and symbolism is not important. As for the breaking of the middle matzah being somehow connected to Jesus/Yeshua, even the Gospel of John tells us that none of his bones were broken, so that’s really a bad analogy. The “hiding away” of the afikomen piece of matzah and the “redeeming” or “buying back” of the matzah are Medieval Ashkenazi inventions, and not all Jews do this. In fact, among the Sefardim and Mizrachim (who don’t keep this practise) the afikomen is kept on the table next to the leader of the seder and is usually covered with a napkin to keep it separate for later use. The “piercing and bruising” on the matzah are byproducts of the baking process of Ashkenazi matzah in the industrial world, the piercing is a perforation to ensure the matzah cooks quicker and the darker areas on the matzah are because of the heat of the oven and the fact that the matzah is cracker-like. Historically matzah has been soft, un-pierced, and mostly uniform in colour, and Sefardim and Mizrachim still make our matzah this way today. It is true that the afikomen represents the Pesah offering, but there is nothing about it that comes close to the Christian/Messianic interpretation about how the matzah represents the Messiah.
One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed about the Christian/Messianic seders is that the leaders of the seders either outright say or heavily imply that the seder they are doing is the same seder that existed 2,000 years ago, and the same seder that Jesus/Yeshua took part in as his famous “last supper”. I said it’s “interesting”, but really I mean that it’s humorous, and the reason for this is the simple fact that the seder has changed a lot and multiple times in the last 2,000 years. That egg on most seder plates wasn’t there 2,000 years ago, it was added by Babylonian Jewish communities after the destruction of the Temple to mourn the loss of the Temple. That lamb’s shank bone and the afikomen on your seder plate wasn’t there in the days that Jesus/Yeshua is thought to have lived, they take the place of the Pesah offering that Jesus/Yeshua should have roasted at the Temple before bringing it back to the upper room where they ate. It’s worth noting that none of the four canonical Gospels mention the lamb, I honestly can’t think of a better thing for Jesus/Yeshua to have done to demonstrate the Pauline and Johanine doctrine that he was the Passover lamb than hold up a piece of lamb and say “this is my body” rather than do it with the matzah. Why is the lamb absent from the Gospels? The Gospel of John portrays Jesus/Yeshua dying at the time the Passover lamb was meant to be slaughtered, so the “last supper” in John is a day before the seder, but the other three place his death the day after the seder should have taken place. The Christian/Messianic answer for that is that the last supper the Gospels talk about give a different seder night in John than the other Gospels. The first three Gospels give the first seder night, while the Gospel of John gives the second seder night. The problem with this is that there was no second seder night in those days, it was just the one night, and it is still only one night in Israel. So the different Gospel accounts can’t be reconciled or harmonised on the date when the last supper took place. So really the question is “was Jesus/Yeshua the Passover lamb that was slaughtered before the seder or was he just a guy that was killed around when the Passover lamb should have been slaughtered”? It depends on which Gospel (or Gospels) is telling the truth and which one (or ones) is giving false information. As it happens, the Pesah lamb could not have a single blemish on it when it was offered, but Jesus/Yeshua was circumcised as a baby and beaten severely just prior to his execution, both of these would have made him an unfit lamb for the Pesah offering if he had been a lamb.
The truth is, the seder traditions that we have come to know and love in the Jewish world today are all innovations that only came to be after the Temple was destroyed. The original seder, the one that they did prior to the destruction of the Temple, consisted of eating the Pesah lamb with bitter herbs and matzah. There really wasn’t much more to it than that, maybe a few special blessings and the Halel Psalms, but that’s it. The rest was added after the Temple’s destruction as a commemoration of the Pesah offering that could no longer be brought to the Temple. The Christian/Messianic seders will very likely all mention that the matzah that Jesus/Yeshua said was his body was the afikomen, and the cup that he said was his blood was the third cup, the cup of salvation. That fits very well in Christian/Messianic theology, but the historical reality is that there was no afikomen or third cup, and every attempt to use that imagery is anachronistic since it forces the modern seder into a time before it existed. Every time Christians/Messianics repeat this anachronism, they are being unknowingly disingenuous at best if they don’t know the historical reality, or intentionally dishonest at worst if they do know the historical reality. So why do the Gospels imply that he said that the afikomen was his body and the wine was his blood? One of two things that we know happened at the time that the Gospels were written could explain it, and it may be some combination of both possibilities. There were many religions at the time that also had a service similar to the Christian/Messianic communion/Eucharist, most notably the cults of deities named Mithras/Mithra and Dionysus/Bacchus, both of whom are also born miraculously as the children of the “king of the gods” with a mortal woman (both women are also said to have been virgins at the time of conception). Given the fact that Christian/Messianic theology regarding Jesus/Yeshua’s birth is nearly identical to these two gods, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that early Christian writers “borrowed” the concept of the communion/Eucharist from the popular polytheistic religions of the day to help spread their new religion. It’s especially reasonable to say that this probably happened and influenced the Gospels because later in history the Church openly admitted to doing the same thing with other non-Christian religions to make it easier for pagans to “convert” to Christianity. The other possibility is that the writers of the Gospels saw the early seders that evolved into how we know them today taking form after the Temple was destroyed and wrote it into their Gospels. It’s anachronistic because it was written after the destruction of the Temple by people who didn’t witness the “last supper” firsthand, but had seen an early post-Temple seder firsthand. But like I said, there is also the possibility that it’s some combination of the two. But we can be certain that the Gospel writers didn’t witness the “last supper” firsthand.
There are many things I could point to in Christian/Messianic seders and show how they are just not accurate, but I’ll limit myself to what I’ve already written. The point is this: Jesus/Yeshua didn’t say that the afikomen and third cup at the seder was his body and blood, they didn’t exist yet. The matzah does not point to his death or alleged resurrection, nor does it point to a trinity. Jesus/Yeshua was not anyone’s Passover lamb, he was disqualified the second he was circumcised, and even more disqualified when he was beaten and crucified. The seder that Christians/Messianics do every year is a product of the Messianic movement that rose up in the last century, and it is based on the Medieval Ashkenazi seder ritual. People who do it “because Jesus/Yeshua did it” are either sadly misinformed or wilfully dishonest. The fact is that if the seder is done in an informed and honest way, it can’t even be misconstrued as confirming the Christian/Messianic faith in any way. It is a festival that HaShem gave to the people of Israel to commemorate our birth as a nation when we left slavery in Egypt, and it is absolutely beautiful and shouldn’t be tarnished by the Christian/Messianic doctrine that is absolutely foreign to Torah observance. In all honesty, Jews are incredibly uncomfortable that the holiday commemorating our nation’s birth has been misappropriated by a religion whose central doctrine is that the brutal murder of a single Jewish man was the best thing to ever happen in the history of humanity. If you are Jewish, keep the Pesah as it should be and observe it in the proper context without all the nonsense that the Messianic movement has tried to add onto it in the last century. If you’re not Jewish and want to commemorate the birth of the Israelite nation, you are free to do so, just remember what it actually means to Israel and don’t try to add Christian/Messianic elements to it.
All this being said, have a great Pesah and remember the exodus from slavery in Egypt, and stay far away from spiritual slavery to a foreign religion that has historically oppressed Israel for keeping the Torah that HaShem gave us.
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