Several years ago, when my kids were small, I heard about the idea of celebrating the Passover with your family on the Thursday night before Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I thought this was a good idea and wanted to try to do it. I became convinced that I needed to do it while I was working on two articles related to the fulfillment of the Passover in John. These later became part of a book, That Scripture Might Be Fulfilled: Typology and the Death of Christ. By studying Exodus 12, I realized that the Passover setting was designed for families, and especially for instructing our children. The role of the parents and the children are critical in leading the family to celebrate the Passover (Exod. 12:24-27). In the development of the Jewish Passover meal (the Passover Seder), the father emerges as the leader of the Passover for his family. It is a time of food and celebration—and instruction.
In order to plan out my Christian Passover celebration, I began by ordering a Passover kit that is designed for Messianic Jews. The kit included a Passover Haggadah (that is, the order of service), which was long and somewhat complex. It was intended to lead the family in a more developed and traditional Passover Seder. I went back to Exodus 12:24-27. The intent of the Passover was to instruct my kids. I did not want to bore them with a long presentation.
So, one day I sat down and wrote out a short Passover service that utilizes some elements from the Passover Haggadah. I used the Messianic Passover Haggadah below as a starting point (see resources). Over the years, I have added to it. Since my kids were getting older and were able to read, I added more Scripture readings, which I ask the kids to do. The instruction part of the Passover meal involves reading Bible passages and asking questions to the children present. Each year, I try to tailor what I do based on the number and ages of the kids present.
Here is the fun part. Every year we invite other families to join us and we show them how we celebrate the Passover. The Passover meal includes four cups of wine (grape juice for us). The third cup is called the cup of redemption. You drink it after dinner. This is where I make the transition to talking about Jesus and the Last Supper. My wife always tells me that this is the most powerful part of the meal. Why?
During the Passover meal, each of the foods on the Passover Seder plate represents something else. The bitter herbs, for example, represent the bitterness of life in Egypt. The meal also recalls the Passover sacrifice and its significance. After a meal like this (see Luke 22:20), where the various foods have been interpreted one by one. Jesus stands up and interprets his body and his blood. Jesus points to himself as the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice. I talk about the significance of what Jesus says about himself at the Last Supper in association with the third cup, the cup of redemption.
Since we have started doing this, my kids look forward to it every year, and so do we. We start thinking about the death of Jesus and its significance on Thursday night. Our Christian Passover celebrations have helped us to focus our kids’ attention on the Exodus and the cross, rather than upon eggs and the Easter bunny.
Here are some of the Scripture readings that I have the kids do during the instruction part of the Passover meal:
Exodus 12:25-27; Exodus 1:13-14; Exodus 4:22-23 and 6:5-6; Exodus 12:7-8, 13; Exodus 12:29, 31