CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER #5
The Ancient Seder and the Last Supper
THE ANCIENT SEDER
The Pharisees of Jesus' day regarded the oral traditions of
the ancient sages as being of equal authority with the Torah, the
written law of God. Orthodox Jews today still believe that God
Himself delivered these oral traditions to Moses, and that they
were then passed by word of mouth to each succeeding generation.
(That was the belief of the Pharisee Jews, and as most religious
Jews of today are theologically Pharisee, it is not surprising
some would still teach the same theology - a theology that has no
solid foundation - Keith Hunt)
Those earliest known rabbinical commentaries were edited and
compiled into one authoritative body of religious thought called
the "Mishnah" sometime between A.D. 100 and 210. The Mishnah
covers every aspect of Jewish religious life and presents a
picture of the customs, traditions, and observances at the time
(No, it does not represent that those things were practiced at
the time of Christ. The Mishnah would like you to believe it was
so, but it cannot be proved from any other writings - Keith Hunt)
According to the Mishnah, the basic obligations of the
Passover observance are the same as those commanded in the book
of Exodus. In Pesahim 10:5, the Mishnah quotes Rabbi Gamaliel as
Whoever does not make mention of the following three things
on Passover has not fulfilled his obligation; namely, the
Passover sacrifice, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The
Passover sacrifice because the Holy One ... passed over the
houses of our fathers in Egypt; unleavened bread ... because
our fathers were redeemed from Egypt; the bitter herb ...
because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers in
By the first century, (should be by the END of the first
century, for that is more the truth of the matter. There is no
proof before 70 A.D. and the destruction of Jerusalem and the
Temple, that these "seder" patterns were in existance. It is
quite un-provable that they were being practice in Christ's time.
Again Pharisee Jews would like you to believe it was so, but the
Mishnah can be misleading in its stance - Keith Hunt)
the Passover observance included several new customs in addition
to obligations described in the Torah account (The writers admit
NEW customs did come into the "seder" Passover evening - Keith
Hunt). Already, a set form of service called 'the seder,' meaning
"order of service," was in use. The celebrants reclined at the
table in the Babylonian custom of free men. (Slaves stood in
attendance while their masters ate.) The ceremony included ritual
hand washings and set prayers. The celebrants drank four cups of
wine as a symbol of joy. Oral tradition contained in the Mishnah
commanded that even the poorest person must drink the minimum
four cups, even if he had to sell himself to do labor or had to
borrow money in order to buy the wine. The Passover wine was red
and mixed with water. From a passage in the Mishnah (Pesahim
7:13), it would appear that the wine was warm because the water
was heated. If this is true, then the wine graphically
represented the blood of the Passover lamb, as well as being a
symbol of joy.
(Remember, this is the "Mishnah" - compiled by Pharisee Jews.
There is no proof before 70 A.D. that this was the order of the
Passover service - Keith Hunt)
Beside the roasted Paschal lamb, the bitter herbs, and the
unleavened bread, 1 other ceremonial foods were on the table.
Salt water or vinegar was used for dipping the bitter herbs once.
Then there was 'charoseth,' a sweet mixture of apples and nuts.
Into this mixture they dipped the bitter herbs and the unleavened
bread together. They ate no dessert or after dish; for, after
eating the Passover lamb, no other solid food was to be taken.
The after dish, known as the 'aphikomen,' came into use later,
after the destruction
1 Some sources indicate there were two flat cakes of unleavened
bread; others say there were three.
of the Temple in A.D.70. It was a wafer of the unleavened bread,
representing the Paschal sacrifice, which was no longer possible.
We will consider contemporary Passover customs and
interpretations, later, but let us visualize here how the Pass-
over ritual was observed in the time of Christ.
(The writers would like you to think this was the order of the
Passover service in the time of Christ, but there is no proof
that it was. See the study "Passover - was it a Jewish Seder?" -
1. At the outset, the head of the feast (the host) recited
'kiddush' over the first cup of wine. This prayer consecrated the
occasion and the meal to God. The words, if not exactly - those
used today, were very similar:
"Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, who hast created the fruit of
the vine.... Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, who hast sustained
us and enabled us to reach this season."
2. Next came the ceremonial washing of hands by the host. At
this point a servant brought in a portable table of food, and the
first dipping of food took place. This was the raw vegetable,
usually lettuce, which was considered a bitter herb. The head of
the feast dipped the vegetable into salt water or vinegar and
passed it around to all at the table. It was a common practice
for beginning meal, and it can be likened to hors d'oeuvres or
appetizers. But here, as in all things that were eaten and done
on that night, there is a deeper symbolism, which is discussed
3. After the dipping of the bitter herb, the food was removed
from the table. Then the host poured the second cup of wine, but
the participants did not drink it yet. Removing the food without
eating the main course (the Paschal lamb) was an unusual
procedure intended to raise curiosity.
4. The next step in the ritual would then follow naturally.
This was the asking of questions by the youngest son so they
could obey the command of God, "Thou shalt shew thy son." 1
The questions in ancient times were:
"Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other
nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread, but this night only
unleavened bread. On all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs,
but this night only bitter herbs. Why do we dip herbs twice?
On all other nights we eat meat roasted, stewed, or boiled, but
on this night why only roasted meat?"
5. Then the father gave a synopsis of Israel's national
history, beginning with the call of Abraham out of idolatry and
ending with Israel's deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the
Law. After that, the food was brought back. The father continued
the service by explaining the lamb, the bitter herbs, and the
unleavened bread. Then they sang the first part of the 'Hallel'
(Psalms 113 and 114) and drank the second cup of wine.
6. They then washed hands the second time, as an act of respect
for the unleavened bread they were about to eat. The host broke
one of the wafers and pronounced the blessings over bread. There
were two blessings. One was a prayer of thanksgiving to Him who
brings forth bread from the earth; the second was thanksgiving
for the commandment to eat unleavened bread. Traditionally, these
blessings were spoken over bread that had first been broken in
order to show humility, remembering that the poor had only broken
bits of bread to eat. The host gave a piece of this broken bread,
dipped in bitter herbs and the sweet charoseth mixture, to each
1 The command to expound on the story of redemption is mentioned
three times - Exodus 10:2, 12:28-27, and 13:8.
7. After the bitter herbs and the bread, they ate the Paschal
lamb. If the lamb was too small for everyone to have enough, they
also ate the 'Haggigah' (a holiday peace offering). But, in that
case, they ate the Haggigah first, so that the Passover lamb
would be the last food they ate that night. Then, of course,
there was no dessert.
8. After supper, the host poured the third cup of wine and they
all recited the blessing after meals. Then they chanted another
special blessing for wine over the third cup, and everyone drank
9. After the third cup, they recited the second portion of the
'Hallel' (Psalms 115-118) and drank the fourth cup.
10. The seder came to an end with a closing song or hymn, which
began: "All thy works shall praise Thee, Jehovah, our God," and
concluded: "From everlasting to everlasting Thou art God, and
beside Thee, we have no King, Redeemer or Savior."
(Let me repeat. The Pharisee Jews would like you to believe this
was the order of the Passover evening during the time of Christ,
but such cannot be proved - Keith Hunt)
ANCIENT SEDER AND THE LAST SUPPER
The Passover ordinance commemorated Israel's historical
redemption from Egyptian slavery. God gave it as an object lesson
to be observed by all those who counted themselves as being made
free by His power. But equally important was the hidden symbolism
of a greater, future redemption, which one day would free all
those who cried out to God in their sin and despair - a
redemption for all people, Jews and Gentiles, to bring them into
a new and eternal relationship with their Creator and with each
other - the redemption through King Messiah. The Jewish people
yearned and prayed for that redemption as they groaned under the
yoke of Rome. Yet when the fulfillment of the promise was at the
door, few recognized it.
The Teacher from Nazareth came into their midst, exciting
the masses with His words of wisdom spoken with authority. He
healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, caused the lame to
walk, and showed miraculous power over the physical laws of
nature. Many hoped that He was the One to free the nation from
its oppressors and set up God's Kingdom on earth, but they
expected Him to do it by military might. Expectation ran high as
Jesus entered Jerusalem that last week before the Passover. By
tradition, many of the important events oŁ Israel's history had
taken place at Passover season; even as He had redeemed Israel
from Egypt at the Passover season and had given her His holy Law,
so God was to send the Messiah at Passover.
The faithful and the scoffers watched Jesus carefully those
few days before the Passover. They saw Him overthrow the money
tables in the Temple. What would He do next? Would He tell them
that He, indeed, was the long-awaited Messiah? Alas, they were
disappointed. He only continued to teach, and many of the things
He said were not comforting to hear.
Now it was the eve of the Passover celebration. Jesus sent
two of the disciples, Peter and John, to prepare for the ritual
meal. They found a room as He had instructed them and performed
all the necessary preliminaries. All was in readiness. Jesus
reclined with the twelve at the Passover table to take His last
meal with them. Here, on the eve of His death, He showed them the
full meaning and symbolism of the Passover memorial.
(AND you should note that according to the clear words of the
Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this was the BEGINNING of the
14th of the first month of the sacred year. See all of my studies
on the Passover - Keith Hunt)
The picture of that Last Supper comes into sharper focus
when the account of Scripture is compared with the ancient order
of the Passover service:
(The "ancient order" is what the Pharisees would have you
believe, for which there is no proof that it was so at the time
of Christ - Keith Hunt)
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this,
and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not
drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall
come (Luke 22:17-18).
(There is no number of "cups" in some "order" related to us in
the Gospels - Keith Hunt)
THE FIRST WASHING OF HANDS:
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a
towel, and girded himself ... and began to wash the disciples'
feet (John 13:4-5).
(Table of food brought; bitter herbs dipped in saltwater; table
of food removed; second cup of wine poured; ritual questions
asked; ritual answer given; table of food brought back;
explanation of lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread; first
part of Hallel; second cup taken; second washing of hands; one
wafer of bread broken; and thanks over bread recited.)
(The ideas and order of things as given above have no support
from Scripture, or any written documents prior to the Mishnah.
The truth is the Passover by the saints of God was a simple meal,
with some wine or "fruit of the vine" [which could have been mere
grape juice]. Secondly the Greek for "riseth from supper" is in
the Aorist tense - an action completed in the past, so the KJV
translators correctly rendered it "and supper being ended." It
was after the main Passover supper meal was over that Jesus
washed the disciples feet - Keith Hunt)
BROKEN PIECES OF BREAD DIPPED IN BITTER HERBS AND CHAROSETH, AND
HANDED TO ALL:
"And when he bad dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot,
the son of Simon" (John 13:26).
"Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. He then
having received the sop went immediately out (John 13:27b, 30a).
(The Paschal meal eaten; hands washed a third time; third cup
(INCORRECT chronology here of the last Passover Jesus ate with
His disciples. See my "New Testament Bible Story" pertaining to
this part of the Gospels - Keith Hunt)
BLESSING AFTER MEALS:
"Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and
when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this
is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of
me" (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).
BLESSING OVER THIRD CUP (CUP OF REDEMPTION)
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped,
saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as
oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (1 Corinthians 11:25).
(Third cup taken; second part of 'Hallel' recited; fourth cup
poured and taken.)
(Again, no proof that this was the order of the Passover evening
in the time of Christ - Keith Hunt)
CLOSING SONG OR HYMN:
"And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of
Olives "(Matthew 26:30).
(This hymn singing was done by Jesus and His disciples, as it is
written so - Keith Hunt)
The first hand washing by the host set him apart from the
rest of the company. It showed that he was the most important
person at the table. In washing the disciples' feet, Jesus used
this part of the regular ritual to teach His lesson of humility
and love. He acted out the role of a slave when He girded Himself
with the towel and washed their feet. He knew that the Father had
given Him all things; even the wind and the sea obeyed Him. Yet
He humbled Himself. He taught them that it was not the ceremonial
rite, but the act born of faith and love, that was important. And
so He took upon Himself the most humiliating task and truly loved
them all to the end. He even washed the feet of Judas!
It was during the ceremony of dipping the second sop into
the bitter herbs that Jesus said, "One of you shall betray me"
(Matthew 26:21). Peter motioned to John, who was reclining so
that he leaned on Jesus' bosom, to ask who the betrayer was.
Jesus whispered His answer: "He it is, to whom I shall give a
sop" (John 13:26).
(No "order" given per se in the Gospels, if it was the second sop
dipped, or however many times the dipping was done during the
evening - Keith Hunt)
One may wonder why John did nothing to stop Judas. But it
must be remembered that the statement could have been taken to
mean any one of them at the table. They all partook of the sop,
although Judas probably received it first. After the sop, Judas
went out into the night to finish his Satan-inspired work.
Because he left before eating the Passover, (No, he did not
leave before the Passover meal was over - wrong chronology is
computed by allowing the "Mishnah" to influence your mine - Keith
Hunt) he had, in effect, excommunicated himself from the
congregation. Neither did he have any part in the new memorial
that came after supper.(Wrong again, The foot-washing and Judas
leaving did not happen till "supper being ended" as the
chronology of John 13 shows - Keith Hunt)
The bread that Jesus broke for the bitter sop was not the
bread of which He said, "This is my body" (Matthew 26:26b). That
came later. We see this from the account that He took that bread
after He first gave thanks at the end of the meal; then He broke
it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given
for you: this do in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19; cf. 1
Not only the words were shocking. It was a very unusual act,
for after supper no other food was to be eaten. Jesus here
instituted the new memorial. He was teaching the disciples in
cryptic terms that after His death, the Paschal lamb would no
longer have the same significance. It was the memorial of
physical, historical redemption, but only a shadow of the
ultimate redemption soon to come. He was about to become the
better sacrifice, to die once, for all (Hebrews 9:14-15, 23-26).
Looking to the time when Israel would be left without an altar
and without a sacrifice, He used the 'aphikomen' (after dish) for
the first time to represent not only the Paschal lamb, but His
And then He took up the wine again and prepared the third
cup for them: "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This
cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you"
(Luke 22:20). He who was the great "I AM" come in the flesh had
stood before them on other occasions saying, "I am the way; I am
the light of the world" (8:12); "Before Abraham was, I am"
(8:58). Now He had one more great truth to impart to those who
could receive it. He was telling them, in effect: "I am the true
Passover Lamb who will be offered up for your redemption. This
warm, red wine, which you drink tonight as a symbol of joy, is to
remind you evermore of My life's blood, which will be poured out
as an atonement for you!"
(The Gospels say nothing about a "third cup" - the Gospels do not
try to follow any "Mishnah" order or "seder" of some supposedly
established and fixed way to observe the Passover evening at the
time of Christ. Luke does say it was "after supper" Jesus took
the cup and blessed it for the symbol of the "new testament in my
blood" [Luke 22:20] - Keith Hunt)
The gospel accounts of the Last Supper mention only two of
the four Seder cups - the first and the third. According to early
Jewish tradition, these two were the most important. The first
cup was special because it consecrated the entire Passover ritual
that followed. (Yes, Luke mentions that cup at the beginning -
Luke 22 - Keith Hunt). But the Mishnah states that the third cup
was the most significant of all. The third cup had two names: the
"cup of blessing," because it came after the blessing or grace
after meals, and the "cup of redemption," because it represented
the blood of the Paschal lamb. It was of this cup that Jesus
said, "This is my blood of the new testament [covenant]" (Matthew
26:28). It is this cup of blessing that Paul mentions in 1
Corinthians 10:16: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not
the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break,
is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"
(The Gospels do not record anything about three or more cups with
"blessing" over them. Luke records two, one at the beginning and
one "after supper" - see Luke 22 - Keith Hunt)
PASSOVER AND EASTER
Almost all the early Christians were Jewish. They celebrated
the resurrection of Jesus at Passover time and called it
"Pascha." (Later it was mistranslated Easter.) They continued to
celebrate the resurrection in this manner during the time of the
first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem, who were of Jewish descent. 1
The bishops sent out Paschal epistles every year to notify the
Christians when Pascha would fall
1 Epiphanies "Panarion Haer." 70.10; Eusebius "Eccles. Hist."
according to the Jewish lunar calendar (i.e., the fourteenth day
of Nisan). By A.D.325, however, paganism and anti-Jewish
sentiment had invaded the Church; Emperor Constantine, who
presided over the Council at Nicaea, prohibited Christians from
continuing to celebrate the resurrection at exactly the same time
as the Jewish Passover. 1 Still, to this day, the two holidays
are celebrated at approximately the same time, both being based
on the lunar calendar.
(The full truth of Passover/Easter debate is covered fully in
other studies of mine on this Website - Keith Hunt)
The death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah are forever
interwoven with the Passover and its symbolism. The Passover lamb
spoke of the Lamb of God who was to come; the redemption from
Egypt spoke of the greater redemption that the greater Lamb would
bring. To deny these truths of Scripture is not only to miss a
rich heritage, but to cut oneself off from God. A believer who
would purpose to do so is like the man who climbs a tree and then
tries to chop it down while seated in its branches!
Some well-meaning, albeit misinformed, Christians today have
accused Jewish Christians of "Judaizing" and "Galatianism"
because they choose to celebrate Jewish holidays and remember
their cultural roots. Nothing is further from reality. The Jewish
believer in Jesus finds deeper significance and reinforced faith
in seeing God's commandments and the customs of His people,
Israel, in the new light of salvation in Christ. These things are
relevant to our faith, not in opposition to it. We gain no merit
with God in observing the festivals; but if we ignore them, we
miss the blessings of a deeper appreciation of the heritage that
is the cradle of our faith and subsequent salvation.
(We certainly can not "work" our way to salvation by observing
the Feasts of God, but IF YOU have this truth revealed to you,
concerning God's Feasts and the feasts of Babylon religion, then
NOT obeying them and going in the correct direction the Lord is
leading, could cost you a place in the FIRST resurrection, and
out and out rebellion against God's truths, could cost you your
salvation - Keith Hunt)
The apostle Paul dealt with this subject when he wrote by
the moving of the Holy Spirit in Romans 14:5-6a,10,
1 Solomon Zeitlin, "The Jewish Quarterly Review" 28, no. 4 (April
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every
day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He
that regardeth the day regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that
regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. But why
dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy
brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of
And again, he wrote in Colossians 2:16-17:
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in
respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath
days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of
(The above Scripture passages are fully explained in other
studies on this Website - Keith Hunt)
To be continued