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The Gospel narratives reveal a fascinating connection between Jesus’ last days and the traditions of Passover. Let’s explore some key aspects of Passover preparation and how they foreshadow Jesus’ sacrifice:

1. Selection of the Lamb (Nisan 10th)

Tradition: On the tenth day of Nisan, each family meticulously chose a perfect, unblemished lamb for sacrifice. This spotless animal symbolized the Israelites’ purity and freedom from Egyptian slavery.

Jesus as the Lamb: The New Testament portrays Jesus as the ultimate “Lamb of God” (Jn 1:29) – sinless and perfect. His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, which some traditions place on the 10th of Nisan, can be seen as his presentation as the sacrificial offering. Unlike the lambs chosen for Passover, Jesus willingly accepted his fate, underscoring the immense love and selflessness of his sacrifice.

2. Removing Leaven (Nisan 13th)

Tradition: Leaven, a fermented dough representing sin and corruption, was meticulously removed from homes before Passover. This act served as a powerful reminder of the Israelites’ swift escape from Egypt, where they couldn’t wait for their bread to rise.

Jesus’ Cleansing Act: On Palm Sunday (possibly Nisan 13th), Jesus cleansed the Temple by driving out moneychangers and merchants (Mk 11:15-19). This act can be seen as symbolically removing spiritual leaven from the sacred space. The Temple, a place of worship and prayer, had become corrupted by commercialism. Jesus’ act served as a call for a return to true devotion and a foreshadowing of his role in offering a path to spiritual cleansing.

3. Foot Washing (Nisan 14th)

Tradition: During the Passover Seder, a servant would wash the feet of guests arriving for the meal, a demonstration of hospitality and humility.

Jesus’ Act of Humility: During the Last Supper, Jesus defied tradition by taking on the role of the servant. He washed his disciples’ feet (Jn 13:4-17), demonstrating profound humility and service. This act served not only as a lesson in humility but also foreshadowed the act of service inherent in his sacrifice. Jesus wasn’t simply a sacrificial lamb; he was the ultimate servant-leader, giving his life for the sake of humanity.

4. Setting the Passover Table

Tradition: The Passover table setting was rich in symbolism. Bitter herbs represented the hardship of slavery, matzah (unleavened bread) symbolized the haste of the Exodus, and wine represented redemption.

The Last Supper: Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples, but he redefined its meaning. He instituted the Eucharist, where bread and wine became symbols of his body and blood, the ultimate sacrifice for humanity’s redemption. The bitter herbs now pointed not just to past suffering but also to the suffering Jesus endured on the cross. The matzah became a reminder not just of the Israelites’ hurried escape but also of the hurried nature of his own impending sacrifice. The wine, once a symbol of liberation from Egypt, became a symbol of the new covenant established by Jesus’ blood, offering liberation from sin and death.


The parallels between Jesus’ actions and Passover preparation highlight the richness and depth of his sacrifice. Jesus wasn’t just a perfect lamb offered in a temple ritual; he was the culmination of centuries of foreshadowing. He embodied the qualities of the Passover lamb, willingly taking on the burden of sin and offering true freedom. The Last Supper wasn’t merely a final meal; it was a transformative event, reshaping the Passover traditions into a lasting remembrance of his sacrifice and love.

By understanding these connections, Christians gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate tapestry of the Bible. They see how the Old Testament foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah and how Jesus’ life and death fulfilled those prophecies. This understanding strengthens faith and fosters a deeper connection to the rich heritage of Christianity. Reflecting on these parallels deepens our gratitude for the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice and the depth of God’s love for us, demonstrated through the ultimate sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ. Let us approach the celebration of Passover and the Eucharist with hearts full of gratitude and reverence, remembering the immense price paid for our freedom and salvation.

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