OUR STORY IN THE PASSOVER SEASON
The Biblical Jewish Festival of Passover commemorates the Israelites’ liberation from the land of Egypt. Today, Passover is celebrated with a dinner accompanied by liturgy (holy readings), and symbolic elements reminding us of the Passover. Symbolic elements of Passover, the Seder are use so we can Embrace the Festivals Holistically. In order to fully understand the story of Passover, we must first understand how it tells OUR story.
We are storytelling in the Passover season. When we look at the Exodus, we can see that in fact it is a story—and it’s an epic tale of freedom. God wrote this story as a picture of all our stories. What we see in the Exodus is symbolic of what we live when we taste God’s redemption. As our lives come to embody the purpose and truth to which the original Exodus pointed, we will continue telling the story of freedom in our generation.
THE EXPOSITION – EGYPT
In Exodus 1, the plot begins with the Israelites enslaved by the evil Egyptian Pharaoh. The king “did not know Joseph” or in other words, he did not know the God of Joseph. He forced them into slave labor out of his fear that they would rise up against Egypt, or escape. This is a compelling story and an exciting, if a bit horrifying, beginning. Today, we can ask ourselves a question about this plot. What was our “plot” or storyline of our personal and family lives before we encountered Jesus? Who were the major characters in our stories?
THE RISING ACTION – BONDAGE
Israel was in bondage. They needed a savior, and God commissioned Moses to go lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. Like Israel, we’ve all been in bondage—or else we would never have come to Jesus. While bondage is a general human condition, we all have bondages from which we’ve been redeemed. So our story starts with our own Egypt, the place of our bondage from which we needed to be freed. What conflicts characterized our lives before encountering Jesus? How did these conflicts create patterns of bondage? What idols needed to be defeated in order for our bondage to be broken? How did we see tensions (relationships and circumstances) arose that revealed our need for redemption? What did God have to do in order to expose and destroy our idols?
THE CLIMAX – JUDGEMENT ON IDOLS
God redeemed his people Israel through the many plagues he sent upon Egypt. The climax comes to a peak when God strikes the firstborn of Egypt on the night of Passover. This changed Pharaoh’s heart and redeemed the Israelites. Like Israel, all who trust and follow Jesus call out to Him to be rescued. And why do we do this? Because in the midst of our chains, God’s grace is already working in us to show us our misery. His grace gives us hope that someone, somewhere will rescue us. Then, at some point, Jesus intervenes, destroys the idols that bound us, and takes us out of our Egypt. Now we can ask ourselves how Jesus’ redemption finally broke into our lives? What events took place to help us see we were enslaved to sin and needed redemption?
THE FALLING ACTION – REDEMPTION
The Israelites were redeemed out of Egypt. Moses led them out of the wilderness and they fled so quickly, their bread didn’t even have time to rise. They realized in that moment that their God was bigger. As Christians, whether by a process of time or a moment in time, Jesus reveals Himself to us too. At some point, we were convinced we could trust Him to rescue us. How did we encounter Jesus’ love so we could surrender to Him? How did we experience Jesus’ death as the gateway to our freedom, forgiveness, and reconciliation?
THE RESOLUTION – FORMATION AND NEW LIFE
Israel was formed in the wilderness over a 40-year period before they were able to step into new life in the Promised Land. Like Israel, God called us out of our old life and into a new one. He invite us into the resurrection life of Jesus in the holiday of First Fruits. He also drew us into a life of holiness through the holiday of Unleavened Bread. Because He freed us, we wanted to be different. We want to know the beauty of holiness, leave behind what we’d been and become something different. Now we can ask ourselves how God changed our lives as a result of trusting in Jesus? In what ways were we immediately different? In what ways has it taken time to for God’s holiness to work out in us? How did the hope of new life and resurrection change the way we live?
PUTTING STORY INTO PRACTICE
On the evening we celebrate Passover, there is a time for everyone to share their story. Each person shares a testimony of how Jesus has brought freedom into their lives over the past year. Those of us who have not yet experienced that freedom can listen to the incredible stories of those whose lives were changed. As you prepare for Passover, consider journaling about your own story, and how you have seen Jesus in your redemption story.