Did Jesus' Last Seder Have A Message?


Josh Sofaer displays a Seder Table

WARREN COUNTY, OH -- This is a very special time of year for both the Jewish religion and the Christian religion. In the Jewish religious faith, it is a time to celebrate Passover while they wait for the promised Messiah, and in the Christian faith, it is the time to celebrate Jesus' resurrection from death as he is believed to be the promised Messiah.

Josh Sofaer and his wife Annette, who are both Jewish and missionaries with Jews for Jesus, were recently in Ohio traveling to different churches sharing a presentation on the Passover Seder and the message that there are Jewish people who are followers of Jesus.

First, the word Jewish can mean both a religion and/or a “lineage” of a group of people. Modern Jews, according to Britannica, trace their lineage to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin or to the tribe or group of clans of religious functionaries known as Levites. (And according to Jewfaq.org both the Bible and Jewish literature, "the Jewish people are referred to as 'the Children of Israel,'" a reference that they are all the physical or spiritual descendants of Jacob, who was later called Israel.) 

While both Annette and Josh define their lineage as Jewish, both grew up under different religious practices. Annette’s family is a third generation Jewish family that follows Jesus as the Messiah. She grew up celebrating both the Jewish and Christian celebrations, while Josh grew up in a secular Jewish home.

“We were more based on (Jewish) tradition of things. We celebrated the Jewish holidays, such as Hanukkah and Passover. I went to Jewish camp and had a Bar Mitzvah," Josh said, adding, “there was not a lot of talk, though, on a personal relationship with God … in fact, we never talked about that. It was more of a culture identity of being Jewish.”

While Annette grew up in a family where she was taught about Jesus, Josh explained that he was not. He came to accept Jesus as the promised Messiah himself after reading and studying the Old Testament. “Especially Ecclesiatics. I found all along the way, it has a trusting and worthy reliable message... and that was convincing enough for me to come to faith in 1988.”

So Josh, a California native, moved to New York where he became active in Jews for Jesus. In the meantime, Annette, also a California native, headed to New York to be a missionary for Jews for Jesus. “It’s funny to think I had to go to New York to meet a native Californian who was also Jewish and involved in Jews for Jesus,” she added.

Annette and Josh Sofaer sharing the message of love and hope.

Now after 30 years together as husband and wife and missionaries for Jews for Jesus and who again live in California, they were here in Ohio for a short period sharing the message of Passover.

Josh explained that while most people today realize that Jesus is/was Jewish, many don’t realize that the "Last Supper" he was having with his disciples was actually a Passover Seder.

During his presentation of the meaning of Passover at the many churches he is invited to speak, Josh performs a Seder meal. Participating in a Seder "helps us to remember the exodus out of Egypt. It allows us in a re-interactive away to re-participate in the story of redemption," he said.

The story of their exodus out of Egypt and the 10 plagues can be found in the Old Testament Book called Exodus. It was the last plague, where the Angel of Death came and took the first born, that un-hardened Pharaoh's heart long enough that he let the Jewish slaves leave Egypt. The story explains that they were told to kill a lamb and paint its blood on their doorposts to safe their first born from the Angel of Death that was coming to take all the first born in the land of Egypt. By listening to God's command, the Angel of Death "Passed Over" their homes ...not taking their first born. (Read about the ten plagues in Exodus 7:14 - 11:10)

"The presentation describes and explains Passover in a way that draws a connection between the Passover and Jesus... particularly with Jesus using it to celebrate and to institute communion," Josh said.

There are actually three festivals going on during the 7 days of Passover. Along with Passover there is the The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits. During Passover week Jewish people clear leaven out of their homes. This is to remember that when Moses led them out of  Egypt, they didn't have time to let their breads rise before going into the desert.

The week of Passover is started with a special dinner ceremony called a Seder.  Josh explained that Jewish people use the Haggadah, a text that sets forth the order of the Seder. The order retells the story of how God rescued His children from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, and to accept the present with trust, and to anticipate the future. (Click here to see the Seder Steps.)  

What we call Jesus' Last Super was actually Jesus' Last Seder with his disciples Josh noted. In his presentation, Josh shares what might be considered the difference of interpretation between a" Jewish" Seder and a "Jews for Jesus" Seder. 

In the Jewish Seder, the partaking of the afikomen (the half of a matzah cracker that was hidden and then found) has different meaning. According to www.tabletmag.com "When we eat the afikoman, the broken pieces of the human realm will get put back together—they will recombine inside us—they will become us. The bridge between heaven and earth will be repaired." And the drinking of the third cup represents the promise of redemption. “I will redeem you with a stretched out arm,” and is known as the cup of redemption. (Exodus 6:6 NKJV).

In the "Jews for Jesus" Seder, the afikomen and the third cup have another meaning. The afikomen represents Jesus explaining who he is. When Jesus was performing the Seder (Last Supper) with his disciples ... "And He took bread, gave thanks and 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 NKJV)

When he drank the third cup he added, "Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.'" (Luke 22:20 NKJV) The wine is supposed to be red to remind us of Passover Lamb's blood. When he took this cup after the meal, Jesus is explaining that this cup is the new covenant. He is identifying himself with the lambs that were sacrificed in Egypt... his body and his blood are our redemption from sin and death Josh explained.

The Empty Place Setting is set for Elijah to come, which is recorded in th Old Testament Book of Malachi that Elijah will come to announce the coming of the Lord.( Malachi 4:5-6) and those following the Jewish faith are waiting for their Messiah to come.

Jews for Jesus believe that Elijah did already come to announce the Messiah, and it was John the Baptist. For in Matthew 17:10-13, Jesus tells his disciples that Elijah has already come and they did not know him. And, it was John the Baptist who declared Jesus as the Lamb of God..."Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" ( John 1:29 NKJV).

The Seder ends with "Next Year in Jerusalem!" The Jewish religious faith has hope that the Promised Messiah will come. In the Jews for Jesus faith, it is believed that Jesus is the Messiah. He did come and when he came he fulfilled many of the prophecies found in Isaiah 53. And, He is coming again to rule and reign in Jerusalem.

Josh explained how he believes the Passover Seder is a great way to show someone of the Jewish faith how Jesus is the Passover Lamb that came to set people free from sin and death.

To learn more about Jews for Jesus visit jewsforjesus.org.

More News from Lebanon
I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified