Class Notes: 4/8/2009

The Matzo hidden in the Jewish Passover Seder Represents the Lord Jesus Christ

Since we are in the Easter Season that started with the vernal equinox on March 20 that was followed by the new moon on March 26, for the past several weeks we have been studying the Jewish Calendar and Holy Days that are Regulated by the Moon and Stars that are used to determine the time of our Lord's crucifixion, burial, and his resurrection that we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday that is aka Easter.

We have seen that the Spring Feasts that relate to the First Advent of TLJC are:

Passover (Pesach): Nisan 14, This year is on Wednesday (April 8, 2009) (the crucifixion of TLJC)

Unleavened Bread: Nisan 15. This year is on Thursday (April 9, 2009) (tonight)

First Fruits: Nisan 18. This year is on Sunday (April 12, 2009) (the celebration of the resurrection of TLJC)

Pentecost (Shabuoth): Sivan 6, This year on Sunday (May 31, 2009) (The Holy Spirit was sent, beginning the Church age)

Picking up where we left off last time where we were discussing the events of the Last Supper that are replicated in the modern Jewish Passover Seder observance.

Luke 22:19; 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."

The bread is a loaf of unleavened bread or matzo that is a picture of His impeccability.

The word for "thanks" is the Greek word "eucharisteo" and becomes the central idea behind the ritual of the Lord's Supper and establishes its title as "the Eucharist".

The breaking of the unleavened bread does not imply that the body of Jesus was broken in a literal sense but in a figurative one. When our sins were imputed to His impeccable human body on the cross it "was broken" because of it's association with the sins of the entire human race.

Our Lord's identification with our sins broke the fellowship that he had with God the Father during the three hours of judgment.

His statement, "This is My body which is given for you" contains three major points. The first is the reference to His body. The physical body of Jesus Christ was impeccable from birth. During the Incarnation He was, by means of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit and Bible Doctrine, posse non peccare, that means able not to sin.

His body was voluntarily offered in grace as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of the entire world, concepts brought out in the last half of the sentence.

The words translated "Which is given" is the present passive participle of the Greek verb "didomi" and refers to grace in three categories.

It refers to antecedent grace that is expressed by the love of God from eternity past when He determined to resolve the sin problem of the human race by giving His uniquely born Son as a substitutionary sacrifice for all as the unlimited atonement.

It refers to the reciprocal grace of Jesus Christ who was motivated by His personal love for the Father and demonstrated as unconditional love for the human race by voluntarily offering himself as a substitutionary sacrifice on the cross.

And it refers to presalvation grace that is the work of our Lord on the cross, being judged as a substitute for our sins.

The substitutionary aspect of His sacrifice is found in the prepositional phrase: "huper"plus the genitive of advantage from the plural pronoun "su" and is translated "as a substitute for you."

The Lord concludes His remarks regarding the bread with a statement that establishes the eating of the unleavened bread as a ritual to be practiced until the exit resurrection or rapture of the church with the words:

"Do this in remembrance of Me" this is the translation given by all three of the major English versions of the Bible. However, the word "remembrance" is the accusative of purpose from the Greek noun, "anamnesis" which means "memorial."

This word does imply remembrance and recollection, there is more to it than that. It also means to recall doctrinal information from the stream of consciousness and to bring it up to the conscious mind or to remember as a memorial.

The Levitical sacrifices that God gave to Israel were designed as teaching aids so that as the ritual was performed, each stage would trigger the memory stimulating recall of the doctrines associated with the sacrifice.

This is also true of the ritual of the Lord's Supper. The elements of unleavened bread and wine are designed as memory triggers to stimulate recall of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. These memory tests are to be repeated consistently on a periodic basis.

The Levitical sacrifices were repeated each year in their seasons as the Sun and the moon dictated.

Heb 10:1; For the law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make perfect those who draw near.

The Old Testament looked forward and anticipated the cross and, therefore, was concerned with a shadow Christology. Today, the ritual has been eliminated because the cross is now a historical fact, the New Testament canon has been completed and communication now comes to us in a different way.

In the Old Testament, the blood was literal and the judgment was symbolic; in the New Testament the blood is symbolic while the judgment is literal.

Because the blood of animals was only a picture of the reality that was yet to come, animal sacrifices themselves were never able to provide salvation because it was something that only Christ could do.

Heb 10:2; Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshippers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?

v. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.

The Levitical sacrifices as scheduled on an annual basis were given by God to teach the doctrines related to the eternal salvation that was to be provided by a coming Messiah.

Today, the Eucharist is the only ritual of the Church Age, and the elements are designed to bring to one's remembrance the doctrines learned regarding the Person and work of Christ on the cross.

These elements are the subject of Paul's comments that we read every time we celebrate the communion.

1Cor 11:24; When He had given thanks, He took the bread and He broke it and said, "This, My body, is given as a substitute for you to your advantage. Do this in memory of Me."
v. 25 In the same way he also took the cup, after the meal, saying, "This cup represents the New Testament in my blood. As often as you drink it, do so in remembrance of Me."
v. 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death ( substitutionary sacrifice ) until He comes ( the exit resurrection ).

The Feasts of the Lord were to be observed annually, but the observance of the Lord's Supper is to be observed consistently until the exit resurrection of the church but there are no prescribed dates established by God as there was for the OT feast days.

Paul instructs us that observance of the Eucharist serves to focus the believer's attention on the substitutionary sacrifice of TLJC for the believer's benefit and to continue to observe the ritual until the exit resurrection of the church.

In other words, the elements bring to mind those doctrines that simultaneously reflect back to the Lord's work on the cross and forward to the resurrection of all Church Age believers.

The Eucharist looks back to redemption and forward to the rapture, phases 1 and 3 of the believer's spiritual life... Those who are justified will be glorified. Rom 8:30;

According to Paul we were identified with Christ's body on the cross where His impeccability was qualified to receive the imputation of our sins.

Only one who was true humanity and impeccable could have qualified to be a satisfactory substitute for the rest of humanity that is totally depraved and lost in sin.

Christ's was no associated with any category of sin, genetic, imputed, or personal and because of this, the sins of the many could be judicially imputed to Him and judged.

Our identification with Christ at salvation is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul classifies this baptism into two categories. First of all we are identified with Christ in His spiritual death, physical death, and burial. This is called Retroactive Positional Truth:
Rom 6:3; Are you ignorant that all of us who have been immersed ( the Greek word "baptizo" that is transliterated as baptized ) into Christ Jesus have been immersed into His spiritual death?

v.4 Therefore, we have been buried together with Him through the baptism of the Holy Spirit into His death ( retroactive positional truth ) in order that as Christ has historically been resurrected from deaths, through the glory of God the Father, so also we might have the option to walk in newness of life.

The second classification of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is called Current Positional Truth. In this aspect we are identified with Christ in His resurrection, ascension, and session.

This is the subject Paul address as he continues in Rom 6:5; If we have become intimately united with Him in the likeness of His death ( retroactive positional truth ), and we in fact have, not only this but also we shall in fact be intimately united to the likeness of His resurrection ( current positional truth ).

When the Lord took the unleavened bread at the last Passover and dipped it into the bitter herbs it was a picture of the identification of His impeccable human body with our sins on the cross.

When we take the unleavened bread at the Eucharist and eat it we are commemorating and even celebrating the fact that we have been identified with the impeccable body of Christ.

We have been identified retroactively in the fact that our sins were imputed to Him and judged and we are set free from slavery to the sinful nature.

Rom 6:6; Be knowing this ( put into long-term memory ), that our old self ( the sinful nature and its predisposition to sin ), has been crucified together with Him ( retroactive positional truth ) in order that the human body with reference to its sinful nature (that is encoded in it's DNA ) might be rendered powerless for the purpose that we should no longer be slaves to sin ( the "old self" ).

In addition, we have been identified currently by the fact we have a future guarantee that at the rapture we will possess a resurrection body that is just like that of our Lord's.

Rom 6:8; Now if we have died with Christ ( retroactive positional truth ) and we in fact have, we also believe that we shall in fact live in association with Him ( current positional truth ).

The baptism of the Holy Spirit identifies believers with the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The imputation of our sins to Christ on the cross is also a baptism in which the Lord is identified with our sins. 2Cor 5:21;

This is the implication of dipping the matzo into the bitter herbs at the last Passover.

This is the last legitimate Passover meal and the roasted lamb was being eaten for the last time as a legitimate type for the substitutionary sacrifice of Messiah. Believers in TLJC could no longer legitimately participate in the Passover Ritual that was given to Israel.

In the middle of eating the flesh of the Passover lamb, Jesus institutes a new ritual so the use of a sacrificial animal is now anachronistic. Instead He takes the unleavened bread that has just been blessed and installs it as a replacement for the lamb. He then identifies the bread with His impeccable body.

This means that from that point on believers are not to eat roasted lamb but rather unleavened bread. It now represents the flesh of the impeccable Messiah that was without a sin nature and Adam's original sin.

By receiving the bread at the Eucharist, each believer acknowledges that they are a sinner. By eating the bread each believer acknowledges that the impeccable Person of Jesus Christ died substitutionary spiritual death when their sins were imputed to the Lord on the cross.

Then later, after having finished the meal, the Lord continued with the institution of the new ritual.

Luke 22:20; And in the same way Jesus took the cup, after they had eaten, saying,
Matt 26:27b; "Drink from it all of you;
v. 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins."

The blood is a figurative symbol for the spiritual death experienced by the Lord while being judged for our sins.

The blood of the sacrificial animal was literal but the judgment of sins was figurative. But on the cross, the blood of Christ was figurative while the judgment was literal.

Heb 9:12 Not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood ( spiritual death as an expiatory sacrifice ), Jesus entered (the Greek word "eiserchomai" that is the main verb ) the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption ( the aorist middle participle of the Greek word "lutrosis).

The "covenant" is the contract entered into by the Lord and the Father regarding the resolution of human sin. The animal sacrifices would provide a graphic pre-cross picture of the coming sacrifice of the Messiah but only the actual substitutionary sacrifice of the Messiah could result in the forgiveness of sins.

This idea is expressed in: Jer 31:34c; "I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more."

The Eucharist was instituted to replace the Passover meal. Its elements are to serve as points of reference so that the believer can consistently recall to mind the doctrines that pertain to the Lord's Person and work on the cross.

We have seen that this ritual was to be practiced consistently until His return.

We have seen how all of these acts by the Lord during the last Passover and the establishment of the Eucharist have been incorporated to some degree into the modern Jewish Passover Seder.

We will now examine the correlation between the bread of the Eucharist, which is identified by our Lord as being representative of His impeccable body, and the middle matzo of the Seder table that is called the "aphikomen".

To do this we need to recall some of the things that we have already discussed in our study.

Remember, the Eucharist was instituted by the Lord among Jewish believers and the majority of early converts to Christianity were initially Jewish.

The Jews were accustomed to group fellowship around meals and the Passover was a special meal where great fellowship was enjoyed.

At the last Passover, the Lord indicated to His apostles that He had an intense desire to eat this meal with them.

Luke 22:15; And Jesus said to the apostles, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
v.16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."

The Lord uses an instrumental cognate to express His desire for this meal with the Greek words "epithumia epithumeo" that are literally translated "I have desirously desired to eat this Passover with you."

This compounding of words is an idiom that reveals an intense desire.

The Lord's desire is based upon the need for a ceremony, a ritual, and an observance that will replace the Passover feast that would become an anachronism the very next day.

Therefore, the Lord joins His apostles for the traditional Passover and then segues into the new ritual for believers in the Church Age. The Passover will not be legitimate again until after the Second Advent when it will be observed in the Millennium as a memorial feast.

Rev 19:9; And he ( the angel ) said to me ( John ), "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'"

The "marriage supper" is a feast that lasts for several days with food in abundance. In this passage, the "bride" at the marriage supper refers to Church Age believers.

The "wedding" will be consummated in heaven following the rapture of the church. The celebratory banquet prophesied by the angel occurs on the earth following the Second Advent.

This is the "Passover" that the Lord is referring to in Luke 22:16;

Following the ascension of Christ, the Christian community in Jerusalem and throughout Roman province of Judea continued to celebrate the Eucharist in conjunction with a feast.

This feast was referred to as the "Agape Feast" or "Love Feast" in the first century. It was a time of fellowship where believers would gather and have a banquet followed by the observance of the Eucharist.

The first-century Jews on the other hand continued to celebrate Passover. The Jews would bring their unblemished and spotless lambs to the Temple in Jerusalem and the priesthood would sacrifice them on the altar. That evening they would eat the Passover meal in their homes.

At the same time, Christians would be enjoying an Agape Feast followed by the observation of the Eucharist.

These two sets of rituals continued to coexist in Judea until a.d. 70 when Titus completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem and reduced Herod's Temple to rubble and terminated the function of the Levitical priesthood.

The destruction of the Temple made it impossible for the Jews to observe the Feasts of the Lord as they had done previously. This means that when it came time for Passover they could no longer sacrifice the Pascal lamb at the Temple

As a result the Jewish community began to look for a way to carry on with its rituals without the absolutely essential requirements of sacrificial animals, the Temple, and a functional Levitical priesthood.

What they ultimately did was incorporate aspects of the Christian Agape Feast and Eucharist into what became the modern Passover Seder.

Prohibited by circumstances from serving a roasted lamb, they borrowed from the Christian Eucharist the unleavened matzo as a substitute.

Without realizing its implications, they also adopted the first-century Christians' name for this piece of bread: "aphikomen "

You will recall in our study, that we have previously seen that during the Jewish Passover Seder, the host or father, takes the middle matzo from the "matzo tash", breaks it in two, wraps one half in a linen napkin and hides it, and returns the other half back into its pocket inside the matzo tash.

Following the meal, the father instructs the children to go find the hidden matzo. When they return with it, the matzo is passed around the table and each guest breaks off a piece and eats it.

This middle matzo that is broken, wrapped in linen, hidden, recovered, and eaten is referred to by the Jews to this day as "aphikomen ".

This portion of the Passover was traditional from the first century but in the sixteenth century became a part of Jewish law.

In the 1565, Talmudic scholar Joseph ben Ephraim Karo, a Sephardic Jew, published a condensation of Jewish law entitled," Shulchan Arukh", The Prepared Table.

The importance of this book is emphasized by Ben-Asher, Naomi and Hayim Leaf in The Junior Jewish Encyclopedia:

Shulchan Arukh is the Authoritative code, prepared by Joseph Karo, containing all the traditional rules of Jewish conduct, based on Talmudic sources.

The book suited the need for a methodical and easily accessible arrangement of the various laws and it became the most popular handbook for Jewish scholars and laymen.

The Shulchan Arukh is divided into four parts: One summarizing the laws pertaining to prayers, Sabbath, and Holy Days; a second, the dietary laws, mourning, and other rituals, a third, civil laws; and a fourth, laws relating to marriage, divorce, and similar matters.

How this relates to our study is brought out in the book"The Mystery in the Passover Seder." by: Solomon Birnbaum:

That piece of Matzo, or the "Aphikomen" the Shulchan Arukh bids to be treated with special regard and eaten at the close of the Seder with special reverence, because, it says, it represents the Passover Lamb that was eaten at the close of the meal.

In Matt 26:26; Jesus identified the unleavened bread as representative of His body which was the impeccable sacrifice to which our sins were to be imputed and judged the very next day.

The Jews adopted the use of the unleavened bread as representative of the absent lamb, a tradition that later became incorporated into the Talmud and finally into the Shulchan Arukh. but they still miss the impact of John the Baptist's proclamation in John 1:29, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

The three matzos in the "matzo tash" are believed by the Jews to represent the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the original inference was to the three Persons of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The matzos are one inside the linen bag but when removed they are three individual pieces of unleavened bread.

The middle matzo, or aphikomen, is broken near the beginning of the meal, but its major significance for the Jews is to interest the children by making a game out of finding it and receiving the reward that follows.

But the Christian application emphasizes the punishment inflicted on the Lord during the three hours of judgment on the cross.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe the Lord breaking the bread at the institution of the Eucharist, a way of demonstrating the "suffering" He spoke of in Luke 22:15;.

The Jews wrap one half of the aphikomen in a linen napkin and hide it. Later the children are challenged to find it and bring it back to the table. Again this is simply a part of keeping children involved in the Passover Seder.

But the hidden meaning they miss is that the Lord was wrapped in death cloths of fine linen and buried in a tomb.

John 19:38; Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus and Pilate granted permission. He came therefore and took away His body.
v. 39 And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.
v. 40 And so they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.
v. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been laid.
v. 42 Therefore on account of the Jewish day of preparation, because the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Wrapping the aphikomen in the linen napkin is a picture of the Lord's burial. Linen is also used figuratively in the Bible for righteousness. (Revelation 19:8)

Following discovery of the aphikomen by the children, the host passes it around the table and all break off a piece and eat it.

This is the final act of the Seder meal and comes in association with the third cup and is a picture of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day.

Matt 12:40; "Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Matt 28:5; And the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.
v. 6 "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said."

Consequently within the modern Jewish Passover Seder we find the complete story of the Gospel. They look on the aphikomen as a representation of the absent Pascal lamb. But even the word itself is a testimony to the real meaning of the middle matzo.

In all the literature on Judaism that addresses the elements of the Seder table, very little explanation is given for the meaning of the word "aphikomen".

The consensus is that it means "after dish" or "dessert" since it is eaten after the meal.

It is interesting to note that it is not a Hebrew word, it is a Greek word. The Koine Greek was the common language of the Roman Empire from the first century until the fall of SPQR in the fifth century.

So how did a Greek word not only find its way into the modern Jewish Passover Seder but also become one of its most important elements?

A simple explanation is that it was among those things borrowed by the Jews from the Agape Feast and Eucharist of the Christian community.

It was used by the Christians for a very good reason because the "aphikomen" is the aorist form of the Greek verb "hikneomai" that means "to come" (it is used in Mark 3:13;) so the word "aphikomen" was the name given by the early Christians to the unleavened bread of their Eucharist. It means, "He came to us."

It is unfortunate that the Jewish Rabbis hide the true meaning of this word behind a contrived translation of "after dish" or "dessert."

When one understands its correct translation it is become obvious that it is absurd to continue to observe the annual Passover that has been replaced by the Eucharist or Lord's Table.

When they eat the aphikomen in recognition of the absent Pascal lamb they call it the "after dish" or "dessert" instead of recognizing its true meaning as representing the flesh of the Lamb of God Who "came to us."

This piece of unleavened bread silently evangelizes the Jews who keep the Passover every year. Annually they gather in the hope that it will be the year they will see the coming of Messiah in His First Advent while the" aphikomen", hidden inside the "matzo tash", remains the unspoken testimony to the reality that He has already come.

Because He has already come, the annual Passover that is observed by the Jews has now been rescinded and has been replaced by our Lord's establishment of the Lord's Table as the only ritual for the Church.

Matt 26:26; While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."
v27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you;
v28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
v29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

v30 And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

John's Gospel gives a little more detailed information about the Lord and His apostles' destination:

John 18:1; When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.

This garden is Gethsemane. It is located at the base of the Mount of Olives but on the eastern side of the Brook Kidron which runs between the mount and the eastern wall of Jerusalem.

This was one of our Lord's favorite locations, a place where he could find privacy with His apostles and solitude if He so desired. It was the place to which He and His disciples departed following the last Passover and the first Eucharist.

And it was the place where Judas betrayed Him and the site of His arrest by the Roman cohort and the officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. (John 18:2-3;)

The Mount of Olives was the exit route taken by David during the Absalom-Ahithophel Rebellion that we studied last time because of it's correlation with Judas' betrayal. Psa 55:12-13;

It is also the entry route used for the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the location of His Ascension, and the future site of His Second Coming.

We have seen how the Jewish Passover correlates to our Lord's Work on the Cross with the symbology of the Passover Lamb, the Unleavened Bread and the Bitter Herbs.

We will now examine the Wave Sheaf offering that was the Jewish observance that occurred on the First Day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread that correlates with our Lord's Resurrection on Resurrection Sunday.

© Copyright 2022, Michael Lemmon Bible Ministries. World Rights Reserved.