The Symbolism of the Passover Matzah Points to Messiah
Part of the Passover Seder includes the matzah, in which three pieces are wrapped together -- Three pieces of matzah, each in a separate section, yet joined into one. The rabbis call these three “a unity.” Some consider it a unity of the three patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Others consider it representative of the trinity—The Father, Son and Holy Spirit—Three in one.
The matzah is unleavened. Throughout the Scripture, leaven is a symbol of fermentation and corruption and is a symbol of sin. For example, in Leviticus 2:11 we read: No grain offering, which you bring to the Lord, shall be made with leaven, for you shall not offer up in smoke any leaven…as an offering by fire to the Lord. This offering was to be made without leaven as a symbol that it was holy before the Lord.
Exodus 13:6-7 tells us that only unleavened bread should be eaten at Passover. Since leaven is a symbol of sin, to begin the Passover season by eating only unleavened bread is symbolic of beginning a life free from sin. Jesus was our perfect example of this because he lived a sinless life.
When the Jewish people were leaving Egypt, God was about to give them His Torah which was to be their guide for holy living. It may be that this was to signify the start of their living lives separate from sin.
Paul wrote of this significance in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 6:6-8: Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast (Passover), not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
If we examine the matzah carefully, we see that not only is it unleavened, but it is pierced and striped. King David wrote prophetically of the Messiah in Psalm 22: For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.
Zechariah also prophesied about what would be done to the Messiah when he wrote: And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born (Zech 12:10).
Isaiah wrote prophetically of the coming Suffering Servant of Israel, the One would be not only sinless, but “pierced” and “striped.” But He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus, the Messiah, was without sin, yet He was “striped” by way of the Roman whip, and “pierced” by nails through His hands and feet and by a spear in His side. It is not a coincidence that the central item of the Passover, the matzah, points to the One that Paul called “Messiah our Passover.” Each year, the matzah points to One who was sinless, striped, and pierced - the same One whom John the Baptist called “the Lamb of God” - the One whose sacrifice would bring redemption from the penalty of sin.
During the Passover meal, the father in the family breaks the middle matzah in two, places the smaller piece on top of the matzah cloth and wraps the larger piece, which is called the “afikomen,” in the clean, white linen cloth which is next to the matzah cloth. The Hebrew word “afikomen” is most likely derived from the Greek word “epikomos” which means “after a banquet,” or “dessert.”
Then, the children leave the room and while they are gone, the leader “buries” (hides) the afikomen, this wrapped piece of matzah, somewhere in the room. Then the children return. They are encouraged sometime during the meal to earnestly search for the “buried treasure” of unleavened bread which is striped and pierced, wrapped in cloth, buried, earnestly sought, and when discovered, found to be of great value. This clearly parallels the events surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
There are many other components to the Passover Seder that point to Jesus Christ as Messiah. But just this one section with the afikomen clearly symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
Jewish people around the world explain to their families every Passover about the afikomen and its symbolism. The entire Passover is pointing to Jesus Christ, who has already come as Messiah and fulfilled the symbolism. When we take communion, we read from 1 Corinthians 11:24: “And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take, eat, this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.”
Passover is the reminder of a sinless sacrifice made on our behalf. When the afikomen is eaten at the conclusion of the meal, it is a reminder of the sacrificial lamb which was eaten. Consider the symbolism of the matzah: unleavened, striped, pierced, broken, wrapped in a white linen cloth, “buried,” diligently sought, with a reward going to the discoverer. Now, it is freely offered, but as with all free gifts, one must accept it - otherwise it cannot be enjoyed.
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