Finding Jesus in Passover: The Bedikath Chametz
Passover is an amazing ritual undertaken by the Jewish people and faith. The meal recalls the tense night thousands of years ago when the Hebrews hid in their homes while the aspect of Death stalked the streets, killing the firstborn of every house that did not have a lamb's blood drawn across its doorway.
Over this next week, I'd like to take a look at the Passover and demonstrate how it points ahead to the Messiah, and that the Messiah is Jesus Christ.
The Bedikath Chametz
For weeks before Passover, a Jewish mom will use up every yeast product in her house to ensure that the house is Kosher for Passover. This command is found in Exodus 12:19-20, where yeast is referred to as "leaven":
Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.
As we read through the Scriptures, we see that God uses leaven as a picture of sin. As yeast spreads through dough and causes it to rise, so sin infects and taints entirely whatever it touches, be it a relationship or in one notable instance, a universe.
So then, in Passover, no products that contain leaven are permitted to be in the Jewish household. As a matter of fact, part of the passover is called the Bedikath Chametz, or the "search for leaven".
The Jewish dad takes a wooden spoon and a feather and ceremoniously searches the home for any leaven. The mom will hold a handful of leaven and let some fall to the ground, and then the dad will carefully sweep up the leaven and with great fanfare, dispose of the offensive substance.
In Luke 22:7-13, Jesus sent his disciples Peter and John to secure a room and ensure that it was ready for a Passover meal, referred to as the "feast of unleavened bread." During this preparation, they would have also searched the room and made sure that any leaven had been disposed of.
The Lamb of God
On that fateful night in ancient Egypt, the Hebrews awaited their salvation with anxiety. They had been instructed to eat their meal in travel clothes, with their shoes on and their staves in their hands. The meal had been broiled, and they had been commanded to eat it in its entirety or burn it. They had been told that Pharaoh would force them out of Egypt that night, and they were to be ready.
That night, God would come upon the land of Egypt and exact His vengeance upon it for the centuries of slavery Egypt had inflicted upon His children. Judgment would come as God took the life of the firstborn of each family, robbing it of its strength and inheritance as His people had been robbed of theirs.
But God left a way to survive this terrible punishment. To signify their compliance with God's command and preserve their families from the wrath of the Lord, each house of the children of Israel took a perfect lamb, firstborn, with no bruises or blemishes of any kind, killed it, and swabbed the top doorpost and side lintels with the blood.
When God moved through the land of Egypt, if He saw the blood upon the house, he would "pass over" the home and leave it untouched. If any home lacked the required sign, Jew or Egyptian, the punishment would be inflicted.
For centuries after this night, the Jews would offer perfect specimens only in their sacrifices for sin. They would examine the creature to be slaughtered, running their hands along it and testing for bruises or blemishes. Nothing unworthy could be offered.
I believe the purpose was to provoke an obvious question, one any child with a heart would ask: Why must we kill such a beautiful, innocent creature?
First, it drives home how malicious sin is.
For thousands of years, humanity has limped along, beset by billions of conflicts on multiple scales, whether between nations, states, borders, families, or even in one's own soul. Sin is the error in the system, multiplying chaos throughout an ordered system of design, much like yeast through a lump of dough.
Second, it looked forward to the Messiah.
Jesus Christ was singular in that He lived a life free of sin. There is no recorded example of His ever committing any kind of sin, whether Biblical or historical. The best anyone can do is assume that He was hiding something.
There is, however, a moment of Bedikath Chametz just before the crucifixion.
Before Jesus was offered as the sacrifice for all sin, he was examined by the Jewish priesthood and the Roman governor. The priests lied against him, but were unable to find anything concretely blasphemous other than what they assumed to be an innately false claim, that He was the Son of God incarnate.
Pontius Pilate examined him, and told the priests something very telling. He said in John 18:38, ...I find in him no fault at all.
Jesus Christ, the sacrifice for all sin, was examined and found to be without blemish.
On my next post, we will examine more of the Passover and its significance.