THE PASSOVER CEREMONY DURING THE GOSPEL AGE
The Passover ceremony that Jesus Christ instituted for the elect children to practice until he returns to establish his Father’s kingdom on earth consists of the following three symbolic rituals:
According to the scriptures, the only people who are qualified to come before the Father to participate in the Passover’s rituals and partake of its symbols are those who have repented of their sins, been properly baptized, and received the Father’s holy spirit.
The Passover ceremony and rituals should be performed in an attitude of humility and respect for Jesus Christ and the awesome sacrifice that he made for humanity. The practice of this ceremony and its rituals is to be a time of remembrance of the Messiah’s death, a time for thoughtful introspection, and a time for the renewal of one’s commitment to God the Father and Jesus Christ. However, a morose or morbid attitude should be avoided, because this is also a time to be profoundly thankful for all that God the Father and his Son have done for us.
The following guidelines for the Passover ceremony and symbolic rituals is based on the Passover that Jesus spent with his disciples (apostles) the evening before his crucifixion.
Although there is not a specific example in the New Testament of prayer in connection with opening the Passover ceremony, it is recommended to do so. Simply requesting God the Father to be present in spirit and to bless the proceedings as you observe and commemorate the sacrifice and death of his Son is sufficient.
“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said to them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: For I say to you, I will not anymore eat hereof, until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
“For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death until he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthy, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthy, eats and drinks damnation [judgment] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”
The Washing of Feet
“And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
“Then came he to Simon Peter: and Peter said to him, Lord, do you wash my feet? Jesus answered and said to him, What I do you know not now; but you shall know hereafter. Peter said to him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash you not, you have no part with me. Simon Peter said to him Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head! Jesus said to him, he that is washed needs not save to wash his feet, and is clean every whit: and you are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, You are not all clean.
“So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said to them, Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord: and say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you. The servant is not greater than his Lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.”
If you are keeping the Passover alone, this portion of the service cannot be performed; however, it would be good to carefully read the above scriptures and meditate on the vital lessons taught by the symbolism of washing feet before proceeding to the next ritual.
Breaking and Eating the Unleavened Bread
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”
The one conducting the ceremony should ask the Father to bless the unleavened bread for its intended purpose as a symbol of the broken and beaten body of Jesus Christ, which is the beginning of the process of the forgiveness of our sins.
Break the unleavened bread into small pieces and serve it to the others present as well as partaking of it yourself. If you are observing the Passover alone, simply partake of the broken unleavened bread yourself.
Drinking the Wine
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink you all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do you, often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
The one conducting the ceremony should ask the Father to bless the wine for its intended purpose as the symbol of Jesus’ life blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our personal sins and the sins of humanity. Moreover, the person conducting the ceremony should acknowledge to the Father that those gathered are there to reaffirm their covenant to remain faithful servants to the end. After this the wine should be served to yourself and the others who are present. If you are observing alone, partake of it yourself.
Selected Readings Following Partaking of the Symbols
It is recommended that you read aloud the following scriptures about Jesus Christ’s last teachings to his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion.
“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You shall seek me; and as I said to the Jews, Whither I go, you cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you. That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.”
John 14:12-14, 21,26-27
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he that believes on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father. And whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I so, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (vs. 12-14).
“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (v21).
“ But the Comforter, which is the holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you: not as the world gives, give I to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (vs. 26-27).
John 15:1-2, 5-7, 12-14
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (vs. 1-2).
“I am the vine, you are the branches: he that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you” (vs. 5-7).
“This is my commandment, That you love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you” (vs. 12-14).
Matthew 26: 36-38
“Then came Jesus with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, Sit you here while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then said he to them, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even to death: tarry you here, and watch with me.”
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared an angel to him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow. And he said to the, why sleep you? Rise and pray, list you enter into temptation.”
John 17:1-3, 14-17, 20-22, 26
“These words spoke Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify you Son, that you Son also may glorify you: As you have given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (vs. 1-3).
“I have given them you word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth” (vs. 14-17).
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (vs. 20-22).
“And I have declared to them you name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith you have loved me may be in them, and I in them: (v26).
After the Passover Ceremony
“And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Matt. 26:30).
The scriptural example shows that, after all was said and done and the Passover ceremony and rituals had been instituted and performed by Jesus Christ and his disciples, they sang a hymn before they left to go to the Mount of Olives; therefore, an appropriate hymn or psalm should be sung.
Although it is not mandatory, it is certainly appropriate to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father and Jesus Christ before leaving the place of the Passover observance.
Cleanup After Service
Do not keep any leftover broken unleavened bread or wine. Any leftover unleavened bread or wine should be destroyed. The unleavened bread should be burned and the wine should be poured on the ground. The reason for this is that once the Passover lamb of the exodus had been sacrificed, its body eaten, and its blood used as protection against the destroyer, it could never again be used for this purpose. The same is true for the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Once it has been applied to the sinner for the redemption of his life, Jesus’ body and blood can never again be applied for this same purpose. Therefore, the unleavened bread and wine, which are symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus, should be destroyed so they can never be used again.