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The annual Passover service commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. By participating in the service, we proclaim the death of our Savior and acknowledge His sacrifice paid the death penalty for us.
At that last meal before His crucifixion, Jesus Christ told His disciples to eat bread and drink wine as symbols of His body and blood. "...When He had given thanks, He broke [the bread] and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took the cup [of wine] after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me'" (1 Corinthians 11:24-25).
The Apostle Paul later warned the first-century congregation at Corinth to take care to properly understand the meaning of eating the bread and drinking the wine. They did not comprehend the significance of the Passover service, and observed it "in an unworthy manner," not "discerning the Lord's body" (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
Partaking of the Passover bread shows we understand Jesus Christ has put away our sin by the "sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). He willingly consented to suffer an excruciating death for us, bearing the physical suffering caused by sin.
The sacrifice of animals for sin by the Levitical priesthood could not remove the guilt of the ancient Israelites. It just reminded them of how serious sin is in the sight of God. Those sacrifices were symbolic of the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ who could remove the transgressions of repentant sinners. "...He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6).
The Passover bread also reminds us of the close relationship we have with Jesus Christ, resulting in a new way of life. When speaking of the New Testament Passover Jesus Christ said, "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day...[He] abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:54-56). The Apostle Paul also described this commitment in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Jesus also described the symbolism of the Passover wine: "Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins… I will not drink of this fruit of the vine…until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom'" (Matthew 26:27-29). In I Corinthians 11:25 we are told: "...This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1 Corinthians 11:25).
We express our confidence, or faith, that through the blood of Christ we are truly forgiven, free from sin and guilt, when we partake of the wine at the Passover service, making it possible for us to come before the very throne of God. (See the following article: The Tearing Of The Temple Veil.) To effect the necessary change within us, God provides us the help of the Holy Spirit. Upon our repentance and baptism for the removal of those sins, God imparts the Holy Spirit to enable us to change.
By accepting the blood of Christ for the remission of our sins, we enter into a covenantal relationship with God, sealed with the shed blood and death of Jesus Christ. We renew that covenant every year when we partake of the Passover. Hebrews 10:16-17 explains the terms of the covenant: "'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days,' says the LORD: 'I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,' then He adds, 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.’"
Under the new covenant, God will write His laws in our hearts and minds (Hebrews 8:7-10). When we partake of the wine, we acknowledge the covenant relationship ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are in effect saying we will allow God's Spirit to work in our hearts and minds. It is a yearly renewal of our agreement to this covenantal relationship. ( In 2023 the annual Passover will be observed after sundown on Tuesday, April 4.)
The Good News magazine (Mar-Apr 1996)