In the Seder meal, there are three matzah that we take and eat. In Exodus 12:8, we find that the first Israelites would have eaten the lamb with bitter herbs (the maror or hatzereth) and with unleavened bread (matzah). Leaven is typically seen as a sign of sin, such as when Paul says, “A little leavens the whole lump”. The other time that leaven is mentioned in the New Testament explicitly is in relation to the teaching of the Pharisees, which was basically an oppressive set of rules and guidelines without any heart or righteousness in the inner man. So, when we come to the unleavened bread, we can think of it as a symbol of truth.
Three loaves of unleavened bread were to be sitting under a napkin on the table. There comes a time in the meal when the person leading the Seder will stand up and take the middle loaf of unleavened bread and break it in half. He then wraps up that loaf in the napkin and gives it to the youngest in the room to place it under the pillow of their chair. Toward the end of the meal, the bread would be taken out again and eaten.
In Luke 22:19, Jesus takes that loaf of bread and breaks it, saying to His disciples, “This is my body, broken for you; do this in remembrance of me.” With this, Jesus explains the symbolism of the unleavened bread in a manner that wasn’t understood before. These three loaves represent the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the middle being broken, wrapped in grave clothes, and buried in the ground. But, just like the loaf was eventually taken out of its place and eaten, so too do we find that Jesus did not remain in the grave.
It is with this in mind that Paul tells the Church in Corinth: “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” Now that we have seen Christ, the one without blemish or spot, without sin and wickedness, without corruption and decay in the grave, we have one to mimic and follow in our everyday lives. We thus purge ourselves of the old leaven to take up the heavenly calling of a holy and sinless life before God.
Yet, there is still more to it. Notice Matthew 27:50-51. “And when Jesus had cried again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” What does this have to do with the unleavened bread? The author of Hebrews helps us to identify what it is that happened here. In Hebrews 10:19 we read, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having out hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having out bodies washed with pure water.”
Christ Jesus’ body represents the torn veil. It is through that veil that we now are beckoned to commune with God the Father. A couple things should be said about this. First, we know that in the old covenant there was only one man who could enter that veil: the high priest. Not only that, but they were only allowed to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. It is through Christ, which is to say, through His body, that we are beckoned to enter that same veil of the heavenly temple into the very throne room of God. Second, we should know that from Exodus 25:22 that it is there and there alone that God told Moses, “I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites”.
While this broken piece of bread seems like it is very insignificant in the overall meal, the truth is that it has much significance. The whole of the Passover meal in Matthew, Mark, and Luke all revolve around this and the cup that Christ gives. While the other aspects have rich significance, and John draws upon some of the other symbols, the synoptics instead all focus upon these two symbols. The reason is simple. The point of John is quite drastically different than that of Matthew, Mark, or Luke. The focus is upon our entrance to the Kingdom of God through Christ. It is upon our entrance into the presence of God through Christ. It is upon the New Covenant. John, from the very beginning of his Gospel, focuses upon Christ Jesus as the Lamb of God.
To wrap this up, then, we see that the unleavened bread signifies our communion with God. It is through Christ that we have access to God, and through the veil of His body that we are called into the very presence of God. Because of that, to partake in the eating of this bread, which is His flesh (John 6:51), is to take up the call of living pure and spotless lives before Him.