In the early church, Passover and Easter used to be essentially the same celebration until anti-Semitism began to grow and eventually the church banned the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus in conjunction with Jewish Passover.
It’s sad really, because the Passover celebrated by the Jewish people for centuries was not just a celebration of a past deliverance, but a foreshadowing of THE Passover Lamb who would come—Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
I don’t have space in this article to get into the wonderful significance of it all. So let me tell you about one item on the Seder plate. It’s the ‘zeroa’ or the shank bone of a lamb. Up until the destruction of the temple of course, the Jews would actually eat the Passover lamb because lambs could still be brought to the temple and sacrificed. But once the Temple was destroyed and sacrifices were no longer being offered, they stopped eating lamb at the Seder and began to put only the shank bone of a lamb, called the ‘zeroa’, on the plate to remind them of the paschal (Passover) lamb.
‘Zeroa’ is a Hebrew word meaning ‘arm’, but it is very often used metaphorically in Scripture to describe power or might, particularly when speaking of the ‘arm of God.’ The word ‘zeroa’ is the word used by Jeremiah to describe God’s powerful act of creating the universe (Jer. 32:17). It is also the word used to describe the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and it’s the word that Isaiah used to point to the One who would bring salvation to the world. Isaiah 53:1 says, “…to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” That’s the ‘zeroa’.
Look at Israel’s history, from the story of Abraham and Isaac where God provided a lamb on the mountain of the Lord, to the story of the Exodus when the Passover lamb was sacrificed and its blood spread on the doorposts for the salvation of all Israel’s first born. Then in the wilderness at the tabernacle and later in the temple, a lamb was offered every morning and every night. It’s all about The Lamb. Isaiah 53 describes One who will be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities and then led like a ‘lamb to the slaughter’. Later in Isaiah, the prophet said that God was lamenting that there was no one to intervene and bring justice, so His own arm brought salvation (Isa. 59:16).
John the Baptist would say of Jesus, ‘Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Jn. 1:29). The shank bone on the Seder plate reminds the Jewish people of the Passover lambs of the past and the hope of their coming Messiah. Praise God, we know that Messiah, the Lamb of God has come. He died and rose again, and through His once and for all sacrifice we are redeemed!
Jeff is married to Sharon and together they are blessed with two great kids, Austin who is married to Amanda, and Alana who is studying Business Management at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S. A pastor for almost 30 years and a gifted communicator, Jeff’s love and passion for the land, the people and the God of Israel is evident in his presentations. Jeff has a vision to call attention to the importance of blessing God’s chosen people and praying for Israel and for the peace of Jerusalem.
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