Passover Fulfilled

Yeshua foretold that the Passover would find ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom of God, the final redemption of the Jewish people.

Artwork from the Torah Club Jesus, My Rabbi study, lesson "Last Seder". (Image and art © First Fruits of Zion)

When at last our Master Yeshua and His disciples reclined together at the seder table for the last time, before even taking the first of the four cups, He declared, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).

He desired to eat the Passover meal with His disciples (the next day), but because of His impending arrest, He was unable to do so. His haste to eat the seder before He suffered explains why He made the seder a day early (as the Gospel of John indicates).

He told His disciples that He would not eat the Passover meal again until it finds its fulfillment in the kingdom of God. Christian interpretation sometimes points to the death and resurrection of Yeshua as the “fulfillment” of the Passover, meaning that the Eucharist of the Lord’s Supper has replaced the ceremonies of Passover. The Master did not tell His disciples, “You will not eat it again.” He said, “I will not eat it again until ….” The disciples kept Passover with all its rituals for the rest of their lives, but the Master will not eat of it again until He rejoins us in the Messianic Era.

He anticipated a period of separation from His disciples during which He would not celebrate the Passover with them, but He also foresaw the day when He would be reunited with them to celebrate the grand seder at the Messianic Banquet. In his commentary on Mark, New Testament scholar Craig Evans agrees: “He will not celebrate Passover until he may do so in the kingdom of God, when God has completed his liberation and restoration of Israel.”

What did Yeshua mean when He spoke of the Passover finding “fulfillment” in the kingdom of God? In Judaism, the story of salvation from Egypt serves as an archetype for God’s redemptive work. Judaism teaches that the exodus from Egypt prefigured a greater and ultimate redemption; therefore, the Passover and Festival of Unleavened Bread anticipate the messianic salvation. At that time, God will gather His elect from the nations and establish them in their land under King Messiah. The final redemption will surpass the exodus from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

Jewish liturgy refers to the future messianic redemption as “the Passover of the last days.” At the messianic banquet in the kingdom, the Messiah will receive His coronation rites, take four cups in His hands, and pronounce the blessings over wine preserved in its grapes since the foundation of the world.

The twelve disciples came to Jerusalem expecting just such a festive meal. They anticipated a violent upheaval to throw off the Roman yoke, followed by the coronation of the King. They had expected a resurrection and a great banquet with the Messiah. Instead, they had a simple seder with the Master, a day too early, a foretaste of the appointed time to come.

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