by Rich Murphy
During the week of Passover, the Jewish people have one week where they eat only unleavened bread. During that time, they will eat "matzos," large unleavened, roasted, crackers. From a historic viewpoint, this a reminder of the 40 years when the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness, being provided with "manna" (what is it?) to eat. They go so far as to search the house, making sure there is no leaven of any sort in it obeying God's command in Exodus 12:15.
However, it isn't in the historic context that unleavened bread comes into its own, but in the prophetic context. The matzo (singular of matzos) is a picture of Jesus Christ, showing His nature, along with His death, burial, and resurrection.
First of all, let's take a look at the matzo itself. They look about like a typical saltine cracker, although they are a little darker, and about six inches square. When you look at the ingredients on the box, you will find it says: "wheat flour, and water." That's it, nothing else in there. Jesus told his disciples to "watch out for the yeast (leaven) of the pharisees"(Mt 16:6). Yeast, or any type of leaven in the Bible is symbolic of sin. So, by eating unleavened bread, the Jews are symbolically removing sin from their lives.
Jesus was the only one without sin (Heb 4:15). So, the matzo is representing His life without sin. When they make the matzos, they roll out the dough, and make rows of holes in it, to help it cook. Jesus too, was "pierced for our transgressions." When it is cooked, and it is roasted to cook it, the dough between the rows of holes becomes brown, while the dough where the holes is remains beige. Isaiah said of Jesus that "by His stripes we are healed" (Isa 53:5).
So, in everything we see looking at the matzo, there is a reminder of Jesus' body, sinless, striped, pierced for us. But that's not all.
As part of the Passover meal, there is a plate with three unbroken matzos on it. During the course of the celebration, these are stacked up and placed into a white linen bag, kind of like an envelope. Then the middle one is withdrawn, the other two being set aside. These three represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Of the three, only the Son is brought out where man may look upon Him.
This middle matzo is broken in half. Jesus too, was broken for us. Of the broken matzo, half is wrapped in a linen napkin. This is called the afikomen. Well, after Jesus had died, Joseph of Arimathaea came and asked Pilate for His body. Then "he took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth" (Mt 27:59).
Sometime during the meal, the father, who is the leader of the Passover celebration, takes the afikomen and hides it. This is symbolic of Joseph who took Jesus body, "and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed" (Mt 27:60).
However, it doesn't stay hidden. At the end of the meal, all the children (12 and under) are sent in search of the afikomen. Whoever finds it, brings it to the father, who unwraps it. He holds it up, so all can see, and says "the afikomen has been found." God, the Father, didn't allow Jesus' body to remain wrapped in the linen either, He unwapped Jesus' and brought Him back to life for us. He too has been brought out for all to see, so that as He is lifted up, all men might be drawn to Him (Jn 12:32).
The child who finds the afikomen gets a prize. Of course, we know, that whoever finds the true afikomen, Jesus, the Christ, finds the true prize of eternal life.
God has established the Biblical festivals to be full of traditions that show fourth Jesus as our Messiah. This is just one example that can be found in the Passover.
As a Christian, I think that we need to embrace many of the customs that the Jewish people have passed down. No, we don't need to do all of man's teaching, Jesus spoke out against that. However, there are those things that God established for a purpose. We are missing out on some of what He is teaching us when we don't do everything He has established in the Torah (the law).
Here's one simple way we can embrace our heritage. Instead of using regular bread, or even some special bread, let's use matzos for our celebration of the Lord's supper. Looking at it in the light of Jewish cultural history, we can clearly see that Jesus did that, so if it's good enough for Him, isn't it good enough for us?
Copyright © 1998 by Richard A. Murphy, Maranatha Life All rights reserved.