The celebration of Passover in the Old Testament is analogous to the celebration of Communion in the New Testament. When the Israelites ate the Passover meal they ate in remembrance of how God used Moses to deliver them from their slavery and bondage to the Egyptians. In the same way, when we celebrate Communion we eat in remembrance of how God used Jesus to deliver us from our slavery and bondage to sin.
Through Passover the Jews remembered how God brought about a great deliverance through Moses, and through Passover the Jews looked forward to the great deliverance God would one day bring through Messiah.
Though Leviticus 23:5 commands the annual celebration of Passover, it was actually instituted in Exodus 12. And in verses 1-14 we learn of the five main requirements of the Passover celebration.
- Set aside a lamb on the 10th of Nisan- one without defect
- Slaughter the lamb on the 14th – but don’t break any bones
- Put some of the lamb’s blood on the sides and top of the doorframe
- Finish the Passover on the 14th – don’t let it spill over into the next day
- Celebrate the Passover perpetually
In following God’s commands for Passover, the Jews were acting out what Messiah would one day do. God’s hope was that by showing them a ‘picture’ of Messiah in advance, they would recognize him when he came.