The Missing Dimension in Passover

(Sermon Notes) By Warren Zehrung  4/1/2023

When most of us think of Passover, we think of the fact the Jesus died and paid for our sins.  I have spent many, many Passovers thinking and meditating on that incredible fact.  Jesus died for me, and for all mankind.  Jesus knew beforehand that He was going to die a most excruciating death. 

Interestingly, the word excruciating in English comes from the Roman Latin word meaning “as painful as a crucifixion on the cross.”

Most of the world knows that Jesus died for our sins.  It is also interesting that both Catholics and mainline Protestant churches have retained a ritualistic form of taking the bread and wine – though not in accordance with clear Biblical instructions.

Jesus Christ died on our behalf.  He died for my sins.  However, we in God’s Church have been given a greater insight into the Passover – than those things that the world understands.

This is a pre-Passover sermon.  Hopefully, it will help you, brethren, to take Passover in a more meaningful way that ever before.  We are fervently and joyously look forward to observing Passover on Tuesday evening. 

Jesus, taught us to fervently desire the Passover meal as He did:

Luke 22:15  [Jesus] said unto them, With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer:

In today’s sermon we are going to answer the question, “Why did Jesus fervently desire to eat that last meal with His apostles before His death?”  Of course, Jesus was not looking forward to dying on Passover Day.  He prayed during the night before, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”

Because of its deep meaning, the bread and wine that Jesus shared with His apostles is the meal that Jesus desired so much to eat of with them.  Our concept of this Passover meal needs to be at a greater level than it has historically been in God’s Church.

Leviticus tells us that this meal is a Feast unto the Lord! (Leviticus 23:2,4)  Each of God’s annual Feasts teaches us the basic characteristics of the Plan of God for mankind.

What then, is the Passover meal of Bread and Wine all about?  The Passover meal celebrates the peaceful fellowship we have with the Father, Jesus Christ and all the faithful brethren.  Let me call your attention to that threeway relationship, brethren, because it is way too important to just gloss over.

Perhaps you have not thought of the Passover in this way before.  The Passover meal observes the peaceful fellowship we have with the Father, Jesus Christ and all the faithful brethren. 

The Passover Service is the most solemn and sacred occasion of the year – the anniversary of the suffering and death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and a memorial of His sacrifice.

And so, for the relatively few religious rituals that we find evidence of in the New Testament, unlike in the Old Testament where there were many rituals and sacrificial offerings, we must guard against simply doing them out of habit while our minds wander off to something else.   This is something that we deeply concentrate on, pray about, and think about, even as we live through, and take of the symbols of Christ’s body and blood represented by the bread and wine.  

If we partake of Passover out of habit, we may be able to check off the activity as having showed up, warmed a chair, and wet our feet—that’s all.  But without our minds being present and engaged, and without seeking God within the practice, there will be no real benefit to us. 

The God-ordained ritual meal with the Bread, Wine and Footwashing will indeed become empty, instead of having both the meaning and the effect He intends.

A large part of Paul’s letter is dedicated to a foundational Passover ritual meal that was being observed incorrectly by the True Church.

Paul had to correct the congregation regarding the Passover, both in the details of the practice, as well as in their overall approach.   All through 1Corinthians up to Chapter 11, Paul addresses the problem of division in the church—exactly like we have in the church today.  Each organization refuses to recognize the Christians in other groups—even at Passover.  They will not recognize those led by God’s Holy Spirit.

If the Corinthians had truly understood the Passover, it would have shaped their conduct for the better in numerous areas. 

But their behavior showed Paul they weren’t understanding Passover properly. 

We’ve read it many times – let’s understand it:

1Corinthians 11:29  For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 

1Corinthians 11:30  For this cause [not discerning the Lord’s body] many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 

It may seem harsh to us brethren, but when individual church members do not come up to par with this Godly standard found in the Passover meal, God allows them to slip away.

For half a century or more many of us have been observing Passover.  And after these many years – this describes what has happened to a great many in God’s Church.

Brethren, in this end time setting, the world is falling down around our ears – but it must not be so within God’s Church.  Because so many in God’s Church do not grasp the deeper meaning of Passover, God says that they have become spiritually weak and spiritually sick, and many sleep – spiritually dead. 

Paul warns against participating in a manner that is not fitting or appropriate for Passover services.  So, the question becomes: How do we eat the bread and drink the wine in a worthy manner?

The manner in which we approach and observe the Passover is so important that Paul indicates that God had afflicted many in the congregation, and allowed many to die because they were not growing in grace or knowledge – and not preparing to be teachers with Jesus in the world tomorrow.

Is the spiritual welfare of God’s Church any different today?  The greater Church of God does not understand the right biblical concept of Passover.  If they did, there would not be the divisive nature in the organizations that does not allow the brethren to observe Passover together.   We would all be one together, and the entire world would know Jesus Christ:

John 17:11, 21  … Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are…  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 

But sadly, there is widespread division within God’s Church.

Have you ever considered what it was like for Jesus as He ate His last Passover meal with the apostles – the night before He was crucified?

What was going through His mind?  What was His demeanor?  Actually, the Bible gives us great insight into many of the things Jesus was thinking and doing during the Passover meal. 

For example, as the author and inspiration of Isaiah 52 and 53, Jesus knew, with exacting specificity, what was in store for Him over the next 21 hours!

Sunset in Jerusalem this year as Abib 14th begins is precisely 6:00 PM (Tuesday, April 4, 2023 Greenwich Mean Time +3 hours).  We will disregard the fact – as the Bible does –that local Daylight Saving Time has been incorporated even in Jerusalem.  6:00 PM until 3 PM is 21 hours!

God the Father had total restraint as He allowed His Son, Jesus Christ, to be tortured:

Isaiah 53:10  “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”

The word “pleasure” carries a strong undercurrent of a sense of satisfaction, even delight.  There is a “pleasure” in the way that Passover should be celebrated and understood.  How can that be with the excruciating and painful experience Christ experienced in His crucifixion?  Because God foresaw the overwhelming good that Christ’s life would produce.  The very fulfillment of His Plan for mankind.

God has replaced the meal of lamb eaten in the Old Testament Passover with the Bread and Wine Jesus instituted for New Testament Christians.  As we partake of the Passover meal of bread and wine this year, we should endeavor to be of the same mind-set that Jesus set forth for the apostles that evening. 

Jesus was not focused on His impending death as much as He was focused on enjoying the camaraderie and fellowship that the meal provided – with those men who were closest to Him. 

We need to focus on why Jesus put so much emphasis on fervently desiring to eat that last meal with His apostles.

Let’s begin with the table at which they were all seated in the upper room.  Try and put yourself at the Passover table with Jesus, the apostles, and a few alternates.

Did you know that there were at least 15 men at Jesus’ last Passover meal?  Why were there alternates at the Passover table?

Some of you brethren will recall the painting by Leonardo da Vinci.  I know that picture is indelibly burnt into my memory because I saw it so many times growing up.

That world famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci shows the meal where Jesus is seated in the middle of a long straight table, with 12 of His apostles – 6 on Jesus’ right hand, and 6 at His left. 

Let’s think about that for a second – because it wasn’t anything like that at all.  For example, consider how casual the setting was for John the beloved apostle to unashamedly be in close personal contact with Jesus.

John 13:23  Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. [John the beloved]

The apostles were not under some kind of restrictions to remain formal, serious, stoic, stiff — they were comfortable, at ease – simply being themselves.  That is why it is important for us to examine every preconceived notion we brought with us when we came into God’s Church.

John 6:64  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.

Jesus tells his apostles that one of them is about to betray Him.  If I had been one of the apostles at that meal, I would have been thinking, “I hope that I haven’t done anything for Jesus to suspect me of disloyalty.”

Keep in mind that Jesus chose Judas Iscariot deliberately, knowing beforehand that he would betray Him.

John 6:70  Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? 

John 6:71  He spoke of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for it was he that should betray Him, being one of the twelve.  

From the very beginning of His public ministry, even beginning from the baptism of John the Baptist, Jesus knew and made sure that there would be a replacement apostle available to specifically take Judas Iscariot’s place.

Acts 1:17  For [Judas Iscariot] was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 

Acts 1:21  Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 

Acts 1:22  Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He [Jesus] was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection. 

That is why there were some alternates at the Last Supper.

Acts 1:26  And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. [to make a total of twelve apostles]

Jesus had told the apostles in various ways that He was going to die, but they just could not believe it.

Matthew 16:21  From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto His disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 

Brethren, please note that the Scriptures tell us that this supper table represents the altar of the Lord where sacrifices are made to God! (1Corinthians 10:18-21).  We will see in today’s sermon that God the Father was also an integral participant in Jesus’ last Passover—as well as the Passover we observe year to year.

Each time we take Passover—we are at the altar of the Lord.  This is greater than anything that has ever taken place at any of the great cathedrals of the world dedicated to pagan gods!  They do not have the altar of the Lord, we do!  

God’s perspective of the Passover meal should be a part of our mind-set as we observe the Passover and Footwashing, not as in Worldwide days when we focused almost solely on the sin offering details of Christ’s crucifixion and death.

Brethren, we did not learn everything there is to know within the Bible back in Worldwide Church of God days—not by a long shot.  The inspired, unbroken Scriptures all work together to reveal God’s Plan, purpose and Will for all mankind.

We in God’s Church are learning to combine the Scriptures together, in a right way, by applying the concept of “A little here and a little there.” 

There is a great deal in the Passover meal—much that the Worldwide Church of God did not understand.  Our Passover service should resemble Jesus’ last Passover in tenor and purpose.

A basic feature of the Old Testament sacrificial offerings is of God eating a meal.  The altar is God the Father’s table, and the sacrificed offering is His food.

The fire consuming the offerings pictures God devouring that food with zest.

As a result of “eating” the meal, God the Father is satiated and satisfied just as we would feel a sense of satiation and well-being following a fine meal.  In this meal, God is satisfied because man is in fellowship with Him, and man is satisfied because God graciously accepts us and provides for our wellbeing.

As we eat the Bread and drink the Wine – begin to think, not only of Jesus at the table with us – but God the Father also fellowshipping – in a very real sense with us—because He is!  Jesus speaks of the disciples being one with the Father.

John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  [that is not speaking of the absence of war – not at all]

Jesus speaks of the love, peace, bond and fellowship we should enjoy with each other, God the Father, Jesus, brethren, because of the three-way fellowship we have with All.  It was an intimate last opportunity for Jesus to share thoughts, feelings and emotions with those men He had taught and lived with for three and a half years. 

The additional lessons Jesus taught them that evening would govern their lives from then on.  Of course, God’s Holy Spirit that they received 7 weeks later brought all those things to mind.  Brethren, those teachings at Jesus’ super table have been passed on to us for the purpose of changing us as well. 

We partake of the bread and wine, meditating on all that they stand for, such that the deep meaning is real to us, and personal, challenges us, and changes us. 

Paul explained that it is in the eating and drinking of the Passover meal that we declare, preach, and teach about the Lord’s death, even though the crucifixion did not take place for some 21 hours at 3 PM the next afternoon. 

The emphasis should not be on the crucifixion as we thought, but on the eating and drinking:

1Corinthians 11:26  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He comes. 

Here is a question to ponder.  Which of the Old Testament sacrificial offerings would you think most represented the Passover on the evening when Passover begins?  If you guessed the sin offering – you would have guessed the same as me – at least for the first 75 years of my life.

Of all the offerings, the sin and trespass offerings are the best known and understood because of their clear association with Christ’s crucifixion for the sins of the world.

However, the answer to, “Which of the Old Testament sacrificial offerings best represented the Passover Meal of bread and wine on the evening when Passover begins,” is the Peace Offering.

There are two distinct facets of Christ’s Passover to consider.  Actually, there was a myriad of things going on…

But, let’s look at two parts of the New Testament Passover Service based on Biblical record of Jesus’ final Passover:

1.) There was the Passover meal of Bread and Wine with the Footwashing.

The meal portion of the Passover service corresponds to the Old Testament Peace Offering – more than any of the other sacrificial offerings.

2.) Then 21 hours later there was the crucifixion and death of Jesus at 3 PM, (Mark 15:34-39)  The Sin Offering is more associated with Christ’s crucifixion 21 hours later.

Sin plays no part in the sweet-savor offerings of the whole burnt offering, the meal offering, and the peace offering.  God accepted the offeror because of the devotion represented by his offering.

We need to elaborate on the difference between the peace offering like meal Jesus had with the apostles as Abib/Nisan 14th was just beginning, and the sin offering details of Christ’s death and resurrection.

The crucifixion and death of Jesus correspond more closely to the Old Testament Sin Offering.

Jesus Christ is the object of the meal offering, or grain offering which expresses the fact that God is the source of, and the provider for life – to whom voluntary and thankful tribute is given.  Every one, of the Old Testament sacrificial offerings point to Jesus Christ.  Each sacrificial offering portrayed varying aspects of God’s relationship with man.

Since Jesus is indeed the foretold object and spiritual fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrificial offerings, it is right and proper to look for their application and fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1).  Speaking of the Old Testament Paul said:

Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. 

2Timothy 3:15  …the Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise unto salvation.

Brethren, just think if there were a comprehensive book on the fulfillments of all the sacrificial offerings in the life of Christ?  All the sacrificial offerings point to Jesus.

However, God is gracious to give us sufficient understanding for salvation, and yet there is so much more of His word that we fail to fully appreciate.

You would think that people would be beating down the door to find out everything the Bible contains.  I sometimes wonder how much we have missed in not having a good understanding of the Old Testament’s sacrificial offerings.  They are in the Scriptures for a purpose, and for our benefit.

Those Old Testament priests went through the ritual offerings physically.  God does not require us to do that today, yet He does give us the opportunity to understand the spiritual concepts and apply them today to the best of our ability.

Though the instructions for the Passover meal, and the peace offering, are not identical, they have far more in common than any of the other sacrificial offerings.

This world is restless because they do not have God’s peace.

Ephesians 2:14  Jesus Christ is our peace.

Jesus is the goal of the peace offering, a kind of unity/community meal, signifying peace with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and peace shared with each other. 

The Passover meal, each year, reflects the peace offering (1Corinthians 11:17-34). 

The peace offering pictures a shared meal with God where there is harmony and satisfaction because everyone is at peace with each other—and that includes God the Father Himself.

Jesus fulfilled the sin offering when He died on the cross at 3:00 PM on Passover Day.  He repaired and reconciled man’s impaired relationship with God.

Yes, it is sobering that we reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus, but, at the same time, the Passover service is most heartening as it reveals the love of God for His people. 

With both aspects, the sobering aspect and the heartening aspect, we are expressing our faith in Christ’s death on our behalf.  And with both aspects, the sobering and heartening, we are renewing our commitment to welcome Jesus and the Father to live within us.

John 14:23  Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and WE will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 

My specific purpose in this sermon is to demonstrate that our attitude at the Passover service should be one of fellowship, not only with the others having their feet washed, but especially, as we shall see, with Jesus and the Father as well. 

We will see that within the Passover setting, Jesus spoke of loving one another, joy, peace, sharing, and living for one another. 

Paul speaks of the Peace of God.  Biblical peace is not the absence of war – it is something much greater.  The world can produce a level of tranquility from time to time, but it is not the Peace of God.  The dimension that is missing in the Passover service today is The Peace of God.  The title of my sermon is “The Missing Dimension in Passover.”   There is so much here to understand:

Philippians 4:7  The Peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:15  And let the Peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

It is necessary that we elaborate on the difference between the peace offering like meal Jesus had with the apostles as Abib/Nisan 14th was just beginning, and on the other hand, the sin offering details of Christ’s death and resurrection. 

God has not provided us with a ritual to be observed at 3 PM on Passover.

Most of us are at work at 3:00 PM on Passover Day – going about our normal lives.  God does not even instruct us to stop and bow our head in a moment of reflection at 3:00 PM on Passover Day.  It almost seems like an omission on our part.  This alone should be a clue to the importance of eating and drinking the Passover meal the previous evening.

I mentioned the sense of well-being, appetites satiated, and this is important to understand because of how it relates to the Passover.  The Passover meal of Bread and Wine is a peaceful occasion.


The word for “peace” in “peace offering” is very close to the Hebrew shalom, which is very difficult to translate because of how broad the term is and what it can include.

Shalom has been summarized as, “the presence of all that is good, and the absence of all that is not. “Peace” indicates much more than the lack of conflict or war.

Shalom is an Old Testament Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility.

The Jews greet one another on the Sabbath with, “Shabbat Shalom.”  Happy Sabbath! 

“Shalom” means more than “Happy,” or “hello,” and “good bye.”

“Shalom” means peace, and much more.  “Shalom” carries the connotation of the tranquility and harmony of Justice.

“Shalom” means, “may you have Prosperity, Salvation, Healthiness.” 

“Shalom” means, I wish you Fullness, Wholeness, Integrity, Soundness, Righteousness and Well-being.  

Biblical “Peace” means so much more than the lack of war.

When Jesus establishes the Kingdom of God on earth – He will be establishing Shalom – the Peace of God.

Shalom includes internal calmness, and an absence of fear, of anxiety, of tension.

“Peace” is the opposite of restlessness, of discontentment, or striving.

It is the feeling, as we would say today, that all is right in the world.

Of course, all is not right in the world, but shalom is that sense in the moment of calm acceptance as worries are set aside, and all feels right in our own world.

The peace offering shows us that First:  God the Father is pleased because man is in an intimate relationship with Him—communion with Him.  Secondly, Jesus Christ our High Priest is satisfied because God has reconciled us, not only to Himself, but to all the formerly estranged Brethren as well.  Thirdly, we Brethren are fulfilled and satisfied because we know that we are accepted by God the Father and His Son—shown by this close fellowship with Him and sharing with Him.  Each party encompassed by the peace offering is at peace with all the others.

Do you remember what the Passover service was like years ago?  We concentrated on the sin offering aspect of Passover—where Jesus sacrificed His life to cover our sins. 

The gathered brethren were quiet and muted as they arrived for the service, hardly recognizing or greeting one another.  For some of you it may still be this way?  There was no love expressed, no encouragement, nor affection shown between the brethren. 

When we arrived at the Passover service, did we find a warm atmosphere of acceptance, and friendly fellowship?  Were we greeted with a holy kiss or a warm embrace (Romans 16:16, 1Corinthians 16:20, 2Corinthians 13:12, 1Thessalonians 5:26)?

Romans 16:16  Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.

1Corinthians 16:20  All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

2Corinthians 13:12  Greet one another with an holy kiss.

1Thessalonians 5:26  Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

Why were we taught to observe Passover in such a hushed way?  Our instructions back in the Worldwide Church of God were to enter the Passover service as though we were in a wake-like, funeral procession with a dirge of grief and lamentation influencing our disposition.  There was little or no interaction with others, no visiting, no talking, no greetings, no laughing, and no conversation.  We were told to be quiet as befits a serious occasion.  It was almost sullen or morose. 

Should the Lord’s Passover meal be solemn, grave, humorless, stern, dismal, unsmiling, or should the Passover Service meal be an encouraging and spiritually strengthening occasion as depicted by Christ in the Bible? 

How was it for Jesus and His apostles?  Jesus’ example teaches us something.  There is no indication at all in the Scriptures that Jesus was stark, melancholy, terse, or stone-faced that Passover evening evening—quite the opposite, He continuously cheered-on and heartened the apostles.

John 13:23  Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. [John the beloved]

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

When we look deeply at that statement from Jesus, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” it reveals The dimension we have been missing in Passover (Luke 22:15).

Jesus was not in a grim, bleak, gloomy or somber mood, but one of a joyous, fervent desire to share this special meal of bread and wine with the men who had been closest to Him all through His public ministry. 

Brethren, eating that Passover meal was fulfilled prophecy!  God the Father was looking forward to that meal just as Jesus was.

What is the correct demeanor as indicated by the Scriptures for the Passover service?  Should the mood, emotions, or atmosphere at the Passover service be solemn, sorrowful, somber when ‘celebrating’ the Passover meal, or should our temperament be more positive remembering what Jesus has done and is doing for us. 

If we could really grasp in all its fullness what the Father and Jesus are doing through the Passover, we would be idealistically euphoric with ecstasy.  The dimension that is missing in the Passover service today is The Peace of God.

Brethren, after we have taken the Passover, and our heart and mind has been purified—made as clean as the day we first repented and were baptized—we are spiritually refreshed.  That is the Peace of God at work.

I took Passover in the Pasadena Auditorium back in 1987. 

Afterward, as we were leaving – having just taken of the Bread and Wine, and renewing our baptismal vow to God – there was a road-rage incident, of blowing of horns, cutting one another off with their cars in the crowded underground Ambassador College parking structure. 

Those who were caught up in the anger had not been changed by partaking of the Body and Blood of our Savior as they should have been.  That road-rage was a clear sign of immature Christians who did not understand the lessons of Passover. 

There was no Peace of God in evidence as we patiently exited the parking structure.

Each party encompassed by the peace offering is at peace with all the others.

In the Passover service we always read selections from John Chapter 13 through John Chapter 17 where we are able to readily identify the themes of the Peace Offering.

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 

John 15:12  This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 

John 15:13  Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

Jesus speaks of the love and fellowship His men have for one another because of the love and fellowship they have with God the Father.

John 17:11  … Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are one.

Brethren, that is one with the Father and one with the Son and one with all the church brethren—that is the picture of the Passover meal!

John 16:33  These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

Luke 24:36  And as they thus spoke, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. 

It is necessary for us to make a distinction between the evening Jesus spent with the disciples [eating the lamb, and what He then instituted—the symbols of bread and wine], from His fulfillment of the sin offering, by His death on the following afternoon at three PM.

If you compare the Passover instructions with the sin offering instructions, you will see that they could hardly be more different. The Passover Bread and Wine were not a sacrifice, whereas the sin offering at 3:00 PM was.

Instead, the Passover meal greatly resembles a peace offering.  A peace offering symbolizes the offeror, the priest, and God sharing a meal in peace and secure fellowship.

Passover is an occasion of thankfulness, typically because of something God has done, and because the offeror is accepted by God.  It includes a sense of well-being because the offeror, the priest, and God are on good terms.  It is not an attempt to make peace, like we use the term today, but rather an offering of gratitude for abundance and good relationships and fellowship.

The peace offering might be the least understood of the offerings because its symbolism, while easy to grasp, is perhaps the most difficult to experience in actual practice.  It is introduced in Leviticus 3:1-5:

Leviticus 3:1  When his offering/oblation/sacrifice is a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offers it of the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the Lord.

Leviticus 3:2  And he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of meeting; and Aaron’s sons, the priests shall sprinkle the blood all around on the altar.

Leviticus 3:3-4  Then he shall offer from the sacrifice of the peace offering an offering made by fire to the Lord. The fat that covers the entrails and all the fat that is on the entrails, :4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them by the flanks, and the fatty lobe attached to the liver above the kidneys, he shall take away. 

Leviticus 3:5  And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor [a sweet aroma] to the Lord.

When verse 5 informs us that this too is a sweet-savor offering, indicating that no sin is involved in it, and thus it is most satisfying to God.

My friends from Texas tell me that this verse 5 proves that God is a Texan who loves the very distinct sweet aroma of Barbeque cooking over open flames! 😊 (Leviticus 7:11-18, 29-32).

Biblical commentators have given the peace offering a variety of titles besides peace, “fellowship,” “praise,” and “thanksgiving” “saving offering” are the most common. Each title tells a somewhat different aspect of the teaching contained in it. 

Jesus offered Himself up as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God:

Ephesians 5:2  Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a fragrant sweet-smelling savor.

Only God the Father in heaven could refer to the sacrifice of His Son as a fragrant sweet-smelling savor!  That is God’s perspective!

Jesus greatly desired that evening Passover Meal occasion, not for the sake of the physical food, but because of the fellowship, and because of what God provided.

The peace offering also carries the connotations of encouragement, strength, fellowship, camaraderie – a mutual trust and friendship among brethren, one accord, communion, intimate unity with, satisfaction, harmony, gladness and simplicity of heart.

It goes without saying that Jesus did not greatly desire His crucifixion that followed the next afternoon at 3 PM.

During that Passover Meal, think of the possibly conflicted emotions Jesus was experiencing—knowing that all the apostles would abandon Him and deny Him in a matter of hours.

Jesus knew perfectly well that all the apostles would flee when the trouble began:

Zechariah 13:7  … smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. 

Matthew 26:31  Jesus said unto them, All of you shall be offended [scandalized] because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. [Zechariah 13:7]

Matthew 26:56  But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him, [left Him alone] and fled [ran away]. [John 16:32]

This happened at the Mount of Olives in a place named Gethsemane: 

Mark 14:27  And Jesus said unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. 

Mark 14:30  And Jesus said unto Peter, Truly I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me three times. 

Mark 14:50  And they all forsook Him, and fled away

Mark 14:51  And there followed him a certain young man [Probably Mark himself, knowing the details as he does in this Gospel account], having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men [who came to arrest Jesus] laid hold on him: 

Mark 14:52  And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. [They grabbed his jacket but they could not hold Mark.]

After three and a half years of intensive study with Jesus, the apostles could not stand strong with Him in His hour of trial.

Here is another important point to contemplate: 

Jesus knew that His apostles were weak in the flesh – they had not yet been empowered by God’s Holy Spirit which He would send some 7 weeks later.

Jesus drew more strength and fulfillment from this Passover meal than we can possibly imagine – that is why He fervently looked forward to it.

Jesus was able to see into the eternal future when He would enjoy the brotherhood, fellowship and camaraderie of all His apostles for a thousand Passovers in the Kingdom of God (Luke 22:16).  Jesus knew what the peace offering meant!

Brethren, there is a great deal in the Passover meal—much that the Worldwide Church of God did not understand.  We have been laboring under an incorrect sentiment during the observance of Passover.

The sacrifices and offerings of the Old Testament give us insight into God’s perspective—especially the Peace Offering.

Each year, the Passover service represents a spiritual family reunion.

Let me give you my perspective of a child’s perspective of the Peace Offering.

It is one of my earliest and fondest memories:  I was probably about 5 years old.

It took place one Thanksgiving Day at my grandparent’s home.

My grandmother was in the kitchen – cooking the meal.

All my aunts and uncles were there with their kids – my cousins.

I could not have been in a happier place.

Brethren, I kid you not, I can still specifically remember the smell of the turkey roasting in the kitchen, and the sweet smell of the fluffy meringue on the banana pudding – that my grandmother told me she had cooked especially for me.

There were probably 25 people there – way too many to be seated at the table – but it didn’t matter.  There were too many to even try to talk to everyone.

There was completeness, and tranquility.

I didn’t need to talk – I just belonged there and was wholly accepted.

I was fulfilled – even before I had eaten.

My every desire was totally satiated.

The family togetherness enveloped me.  I was accepted, I was satisfied.

I could not have been more pleased. 

That is what the Peace offering and Passover Meal of bread and wine is all about.

Each year, the Passover service represents a spiritual family reunion.

The peace offering shows us that God is satisfied because man is in communion with Him.

A man is satisfied because he knows he is accepted by God, that he is in fellowship with and sharing with Him.

The Priest, Christ, is satisfied because, as the common friend of formerly estranged parties, He is happy to see them sharing due to His work.

Each party encompassed by the peace offering is at peace with all the others.

Try to imagine all the many things going through Christ’s mind that evening. 

He knew every detail of His scourging, His passion, even His betrayal within the hour by Judas Iscariot – sitting within arm’s reach.

It was not the thought of His death, but the awareness of His betrayal…  Brethren, I submit to you that the greatest of all pains is the betrayal by a loved one!

At the conclusion of the Footwashing Jesus said:

John 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet

John 13:15  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. 

John 13:16  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. 

John 13:17  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. 

John 13:18  I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the Scripture (Psalm 41:9) may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me. 

John 13:19  Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. 

John 13:20  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receives whomsoever I send receives me; and he that receives me receives Him that sent me. [the Father]

John 13:21  When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 

John 13:22  Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spoke. 

One of the apostles was about to betray Jesus – inconceivable!   That certainly aroused intrigue in the room.

John 13:23  Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. [John the beloved]

John 13:24  Simon Peter therefore [making eye contact with John, I suppose,] motioning [with an almost imperceptible nod; casting his eyes toward Jesus, or an undetectable gesture of his head; nudging John] to ask [Jesus] of whom He spoke? 

Peter possibly cocked his head back ever so slightly, subtlety chin-pointing toward Jesus, I don’t know how Peter did it in the culture of the day – but the gesture was not lost on John.

Filipinos commonly lip-point to an object or another person (called ‘nguso,’ pronounced moo-so)– raising the eye brows, sticking out the lips, while uttering “ummm.”

John 13:25  [John the beloved] then lying on Jesus’ breast said unto Him, Lord, who is it?

John 13:26  Jesus answered, it is he to whom I shall give a sop/morsel [a piece of unleavened bread], when I have dipped it. And when [Jesus] had dipped the morsel, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

John 13:27  And after the sop, Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That which you are going to do, do so quickly.

“That which you do – do so quickly.”  Jesus’ ejection of Judas Iscariot may have been for the purpose of diminishing the mood of disagreement and tension in the room – making room for the intended camaraderie.

John 13:28  Nobody at the table [had a clue what Jesus was saying…]

Please note that the Scriptures tell us that this supper table represents the altar of the Lord where sacrifices are made to God! (1Corinthians 10:18-21).

John 13:30  [Judas Iscariot] having received the sop immediately went out:

Please turn to 1Corinthians 10, where the Passover symbols of Bread and Wine are mentioned together:

Paul is speaking specifically of sacrifices to God, and partaking of the Lord’s table (1Corinthians 10:20-22).

1Corinthians 10:16-17 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion/unity with the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion/unity with the body of Christ [all the brethren—the spiritual body of Christ]? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.  

To fully understand what Paul is saying here, we need to step back and revisit what the Passover meal of bread and wine is all about.  The Passover centers on a meal, and everywhere the Passover is mentioned as a practice, the emphasis is on eating, even though the symbols mean much more.

The passage in 1Corinthians 10:16-17 tells us that the bread and wine of Passover symbolically join us with the object of the sacrifice, who is Jesus Christ.

The overall effect of partaking of the bread and wine meal is to make us one with God.  It also makes us one with all the brethren who are sharing in fellowship with God.

Passover commemorates the peace we have with the Father and the Son, and the incredible covenant to which They have pledged themselves. 

When the significance of that awesome privilege truly sinks in, it motivates us, the Christians, to likewise honor the fellowship of the entire spiritual Body.

The Passover is a memorial of our unique and undeserved standing with God, and a reminder of the redemption process He is faithful to complete as we continue to abide in Him.  Because of Christ’s overwhelming dedication and devotion to the point of death, we can now gratefully enjoy fellowship with God the Father because of the peace Jesus Christ has provided.  Speaking of Jesus the Messiah:

Ephesians 2:14-17  He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us;  Having abolished in His flesh the enmity… to make in Himself of twain, one new man, so making peace; that He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 

Romans 5:1-2  Being justified by faith, we have peace with God [the Father] through our Lord Jesus Christ.  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Yes!  It is by God’s good grace that we have been exempted when He overlooked our miserable sinful condition for His Name’s sake (Ezekiel 5:5-9).  We have been exempted—we are not going to die for our sins!

God allowed the Israelites’ continued existence because of His covenant promise to Abraham concerning his descendants—otherwise Israel would have been wiped out. 

Because of God’s faithfulness to Abraham—God devastated Egypt while exempting Israel which was involved in the same abominable sins. 

The Peace Offering shows that God has done the exact same for us, and morePassing-over our sins and forgiving us—Passover

The bread and the wine we partake of represent the sacrificial meal, which ultimately is Jesus Christ.

God the Father accepts those partaking of this meal, and He is pleased to have them in His presence.

The bread of life imparts spiritual strength, and through drinking the wine, we take in the blood of the covenant.

That blood is an overwhelming pledge by Almighty God to make complete those who remain faithful, who do not count the blood of the covenant as an [unholy] common thing (Hebrews 10:26-29).

Both God and the individual are satisfied because of the peace and fulfillment that comes through the divine fellowship that Jesus Christ facilitates.

I said it before brethren, if we could really grasp in all its fullness what the Father and Jesus are doing through the Passover, we would be euphoric with ecstasy. 

The Missing Dimension in Passover that we wish to incorporate is:  Delighting in the Passover meal as Jesus did—the Peace of God.

Our observance of the Passover meal demonstrates our desire to be one with the Father, Jesus and all the brethren

Thank God for His peace and mercy on us, His people.

Brethren, have the best Passover you’ve ever had.


End:  The Missing Dimension in Passover