I remember several family traditions from Easter. Some I remember fondly, such as receiving a one-pound chocolate bunny in my neon green Easter basket. Others I remember with a distinct lack of joy, specifically the tradition of buying new clothes in colors I hated.
But there were other traditions that ascended above chocolate and clothes. Those traditions helped me understand the meaning of Easter. My wife and I started one such tradition a few years ago when we attended a Seder meal hosted by a Messianic Jewish congregation in our area.
The experience was educational, inspirational, devotional, and even heartbreaking at times. Instead of reading about the unleavened bread, I got to break it, smell it, and taste it. Old Testament Scriptures came alive in my heart as our leader sang them in Hebrew.
Beyond the sensory overload of seeing Scripture come to life, I was struck by the clarity of how the Passover in Exodus foreshadows Jesus of Nazareth.
I was also pleasantly surprised by how the Seder meal involves children. At the beginning of the meal, a child asks a series of questions the leader then answers. This tells the story of Passover and why it is important.
At one point of the Seder meal, children are to seek for the hidden piece of unleavened bread referred to as the Afkomen. It is a fun game for both children as participants and adults as spectators. After the Afkomen is found, it is brought to the leader who buys it from the child. He ransoms it. Our leader explained that in some Jewish traditions, this represented Messiah who was yet to come. Our leader said as Christians, we know that Messiah (Jesus) is no longer hidden. He came and ransomed us through His death and resurrection.
Other aspects of the Seder meal are not found in the Passover account in Exodus but are
still important. The drinking from the four cups and the explanations are encouraging yet upsetting. The first cup, the Cup of Blessing, is drunk after saying, “Baruch Atah Adonia Elohenu Melech haolam, borie p’ree hagafen” (Blessed, art Thou O Lord our God, King of the Universe who hast created the fruit of the vine). Then the second cup is taken symbolizing the bitter bondage the Jewish people endured. Afterward, participants drink from the Cup of Redemption. Lastly, the Cup of Restoration is offered.
There are many more facets to the Seder meal. Each one is filled with history, meaning, and theology. They all touched me in profound ways and are better experienced than read. So on this Good Friday, find someone, a Messianic Jewish congregation, a family, or a church that is hosting a Seder meal and ask if you can join them. It is an experience you will never forget.