Before we celebrate the Passover with the Seder meal, the leaven is to be taken out of the house. There is a day of preparation, as mentioned in John 19:14. This day is dedicated to the cleansing of the house, from top to bottom. The evening before the Passover, the father of the house takes the traditional implements (a feather, a wooden spoon, and a bag) and searches the house for any specks of leaven that might have been missed. In this, we find a pattern for ourselves. As the leaven is being taken away, and the house is being searched, so too we search our hearts to see if there are any old habits, any sins, any wrong mentalities, any offenses that we’ve made or grudges we’re holding onto, or anything else that might hinder us in our walk before God. Once the leaven is removed, the night of the Passover commences. The family sits around the table and ceremonially washes their hands with a special laver and towel. In John 13:2-17, instead of washing his hands, Jesus got up from the table and washed His disciples’ feet. In this, He expresses the meaning of the hand washing. We’ve taken the leaven out of our homes, and likewise Jesus says to Peter, “They who have already had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.” We have a phrase of “washing our hands”, which is symbolic of claiming our innocence (see Matthew 26:24). This could be likened to baptism, but I wouldn’t take it that far. Once the house and participants are ceremonially clean, the Passover Seder can begin. The woman of the house says a blessing and lights the Passover candles, signifying that it was through the woman that Messiah Jesus came into the world (Genesis 3:15). It is after the candles were lit that the Haggadah (means “the telling”) is spoken. The Haggadah is the telling of the story of Passover. In this, the children ask four questions: On all nights we need not dip even once; why on this night we do so twice? On all nights we eat chametz or matzah; why on this night only matzah? On all nights we eat any kind of vegetables; why on this night maror? On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining; why on this night only reclining? The father then tells the story of the Exodus in response to these questions, reading from a book called ‘The Haggadah’ and using symbols and object lessons. Every answer that is given displays both the slavery that was experienced, and the freedom that we now have. From here there is a blessing recited over the first of four cups of wine: “Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine.” It might be what the disciples divided up in Luke 22:17-18, when Jesus said that He will not again drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes. The father will pour the wine for each person, and one also for the guest: Elijah. Next the karpas is eaten. The karpas is usually parsley, but sometimes lettuce or cucumber. It is a symbol of life. The parsley is dipped in salt water, a symbol of tears, and eaten to remind us that life for our anscestors was immersed in tears. Next the Yachatz is broken. This is the middle piece of matzah. The larger half is then hidden, to be used as the afikomen, and searched for at the end of the meal. The smaller half is placed in between the other two matzos on the Seder plate. From here the Maggid takes place. The second cup of wine is poured, and the story is continued. The second cup of wine is to remind us of the Ten Plagues and the suffering of the Egyptians when they hardened their heart to the Lord. To not rejoice over the suffering of our enemies, we spill a drop of wine as we recite each of the Ten Plagues. In this, we are reminded of the blood poured out for us on the cross. We remember the sufferings of Christ Jesus, and in that take up the cup with Him to bear our own crosses. Now the hands are washed again, this time with a prayer, in anticipation of eating the matzos. This is called the rohtzah. With the tree motzos in the air, the regular blessing of bread is prayed. Then we recite another prayer, specifically over the matzos. After the blessings, each person eats a bit of the matzos. Most likely, we can relate this to Jesus’ words, “This is my body broken for you. Take and eat. Do this in remembrance of me.” Next we bless the maror, a bitter vegetable, which symbolizes the bitterness of slavery. The maror is usually horseradish, and we mix it with charoseth (the symbol of the bricks made by the enslaved Jews), and we use this mixture to create a sandwich with matzos. This is called the koreich. Now comes the meal. We eat the beitzah and the chazareth. Out comes steaming hot chicken soup with huge, fluffy, motzah balls. Out come slices of pungent, homemade gefilte fish with horseradish. Out comes chopped liver with lots of crunchy fried onions on a bed of lettuce. Salad is served. More crispy fried onions come on the side… and this is just the appetizer! Next comes the meal. Tender, sweet brisket with cabbage, homemade flanken, stewed chicken, roasted chicken, broiled chicken, sautéed chicken, backed chicken, more matzah, a whole roasted turkey, fresh cut green beans with onions, carrot and prune tzimmes, sweet potato and raisin tzimmes, homemade mashed potatoes swimming in butter, and all of this served alongside of several more helpings of matzah. Now we search for the afikomen. The meal is finished, and the leader of the Seder lets the children loose to hunt for the afikomen, which is wrapped in a napkin and hidden before the meal. Remember, the bread that was broken was what Jesus prayed over: “This is my body broken for you…” He took the middle piece of matzah, the one that stood as priest and mediator between God and the people, broken it in symbol of His soon coming death, wrapped it in a napkin like grave clothes, and buried it. It is then at this time when it is found that we see the symbolism that Christ Jesus wasn’t going to remain dead. He resurrected. Now comes the third glass of wine. This is the cup of redemption, which reminds us of the shed blood of the innocent lamb. In Luke 22:20, it says that it was after the supper that Christ Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me.” This is not just any cup. This is the cup of redemption out of slavery and into freedom. It is this third cup where Elijah comes in. The child is told to go to the door and open it for the prophet to come in and eat with them. Every year, the prophet doesn’t come, and they reply with, “Maybe next year…”. Then the cup is poured out. The hope is that the prophet Elijah, as the forerunner of the Messiah’s coming, might appear and we’ll know that the Messiah is soon to appear. It is in the Gospels that we find this tradition is not found. Why? John the Baptist came as Elijah. The Messiah was sitting with them. The fourth cup is then poured, and over it is recited the hillel, which means praise. In the Gospels, the fourth cup isn’t shared. This fourth cup represents restoration. So, we see the first cup as the cup of sanctification, the second as deliverance, the third as redemption, and the final as restoration. The first three were drunk by Jesus and His disciples, but where is the fourth? It can be posed as an option that the fourth cup is being expressed in Gethsemane. This is a stellar observation, but rather confusing… For example, how could it be that Jesus agonizes over taking the cup of the restoration of Israel? This is what He desired: “I have longed to gather you like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” However, in this very passage, we do have another hint. Two verses later Jesus says, “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus is quoting the hillel – the Psalm sung as a hymn over the final cup. It is Psalm 118:26. Remember Luke 22:18, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” What is the fourth cup? The fourth cup is the restoration of the Kingdom of God unto Israel (Acts 1:6). It is at that time, at the return of Christ, when all of Israel shall be saved, and the gathering of the people shall be unto him (Genesis 49:10). The fourth cup is left out for the same reason that the second half of Isaiah 61 is left out in Luke 4:18-19. It is not yet time for the fulfillment. There waits a day when this cup shall be drunk, and that day is the Feast of Tabernacles when Christ returns.