At each Passover meal that took place this week, it was likely that three pieces of matzah (unleavened bread) were wrapped in a blanket in the center of the table. Early in the dinner, the center piece of matzah was broken in half and hidden for the children to find at the end. This hidden piece is called the afikomen, a Greek word which means "dessert," "that which comes after," "the hidden one," or "I came." The hiding of the Afikomen is a tradition that is nowhere commanded in Scripture, yet it has been a part of Jewish culture for thousands of years. Many often wonder, Why are there three pieces of matzah inside the blanket instead of just one? Could they be symbolic of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Furthermore, why is it the middle one that is broken?
Jesus shared a Passover meal with His disciples. Christians traditionally call it the Last Supper. "And when He had taken bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.'" ~Luke 22:19
This is matzah, the special bread used for Passover. It's different from ordinary bread because...
- It is unleavened, without sin.
- It is striped.
- It is pierced.
"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his stripes we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors."
~Isaiah 53: 5-12
An interesting thing happened that Passover day, 2000 years ago. After the high priest offered the sacrificial lamb in the temple, he said, "It is finished." At that moment, another High Priest was offering Himself as the Passover Lamb. "Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, 'It is finished!'And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit." ~John 19:30
This time, it really was finished. "For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." ~Hebrews 9:24-28
Why is that possible? Because it didn't end with the cross! Jesus, our High Priest, our Passover Lamb, did not stay in the grave! Instead His children found their Afikomen--the unleavened bread of life that was pierced, striped, and broken for my sin and yours--alive and well outside the empty tomb! (John 20:1-18)
Thank you, Jesus, for Your sacrifice.