The Seder is a meal ritual celebrated by the Jewish people to pass on to succeeding generations the historical significance of the exodus from Egypt of Moses and the nation of Israel. Participants are drawn into the story through participation in a meal and liturgy that sparks conversation and discussion while pointing out the specific events that formed the nation of Israel. Much like Moses in his discussion with the second generation of Jewish people about to enter the promised land (Deuteronomy 29:1-3), participants are told that they are the people that God led out of Egypt (The Messianic Passover Haggadah).
Though scholars argue as to the specific timing of the Last Supper, nearly all agree that the event took place at or in preparation for the Passover. Consequently, better understanding of our Jewish roots gives context to our Christian meal ritual taken from the Last Supper, the Eucharist. But the rituals have two distinct purposes. The Seder is meant to help the Jewish people remember and reconnect with their ancestors, a reconstitution of identity, while the Eucharist is meant to obliterate walls and transform identities, forming a new people of God.
As the liturgy of the Seder guides us through the four questions asked by the youngest member at the meal, it is important to remember that we can be grafted into that heritage, regardless of our birthright. But the Seder can only lead us to Palm Sunday and our worldly understanding of what the saviour will do. Holy Week shatters our misconceptions. There is no revolt against the injustice of the world, injustice that is all too apparent and revalent even today. Instead, Jesus submits to the Father’s will and begins breaking down walls.
The Eucharist is meatless because Jesus is the lamb sacrificed for all of us. Jew and Gentile can now be united. As we prepare to enter Holy Week, it is critical to understand that Jesus becomes the permanent sacrifice, once for all. The words of institution guide the participants through the death and resurrection of Jesus, inviting them to die to self and rise as a disciple of the Lamb.
How much would our world change if we embraced our Father by submitting to our perceived powerlessness and becoming instruments of His will to draw all humanity to Himself?