Pesaha of the New Testament Tradition

Written By: on Apr 1st, 2010 and filed under Articles, Youth And Faith.

Pesaha is one of the most important feasts of the Jewish religion. The word Pesaha literally means ‘exodus’.

Church historians are of the opinion that Pesaha must be the combination of two feasts, which existed before the time of Moses. One was linked with the experiences of the time when mankind was herdsmen. The other feast was linked with the experiences of the time when mankind was agriculturists. Whatever be the meanings and significance of the very ancient traditions and rituals, the exodus of the Israelites from the bondage in Egypt and the exemptions granted by the angel from slaughtering the first born of the Israelites gave a wide and vivid meaning and significance for the feast of Pesaha.

Even after reaching the Promised Land, the Jews were so particular in observing the feast Pesaha. The feast reminded the Jews that they are the selected tribe of God Almighty. (Ex. 13: 14) The Israelites not only celebrated the memory of the deliverance but also utilized the occasion to create a feeling that they were going through the same experiences of their fathers. This was a national festival as well as a homely festival. The entire members of each family were supposed to assemble together at Jerusalem for the observance of this feast. They used to sacrifice a lamb at the Jerusalem Temple. They used to dedicate the blood on the table of sacrifice and used to cook the meat for their consumption with the Pesaha food. In three occasions of the public life of our Lord, there are mentions about this feast. (Jn 2: 13, 6: 4, and 12: 12)

Our Lord established the Holy sacrament of the Holy Eucharist during His celebration of the Pesaha with His blessed Apostles, prior to His crucifixion. This is the importance of the Pesaha in the New Testament tradition. (Mk 14: 12-25) The reference in the Gospel according to St. John (chapter 18: 28, 19: 14) reveals that the last supper of our Lord and Savior took place on the previous day of the Pesaha of that year. St. John’s version is that when the lambs of the Pesaha were slaughtered, the Lamb of God was also slaughtered. St. Luke makes it clear that our Lord took part in the last supper as the Pesaha of the year. (Lk 22:7 ff)

The New Testament Pesaha denotes the exodus from sin and death. As the covenant was executed in connection with the Old Testament liberation at Mount Sinai, the liberation through the blood of Lord Jesus and the new covenant are revealed in the New Testament Pesaha. (Jeremiah 31:31)

St. Paul has interpreted the death and resurrection of Lord Jesus on the basis of the Pesaha. (1 Cor 5: 6-8) The Jews were so particular to use the unleavened bread on Pesaha day. Where as our Lord established the Holy Eucharist as the crown of all the sacraments, using the leavened bread.

The use of the unleavened bread immediately after the Holy Eucharist is not at all so important and significant. Our forefathers used to bring unleavened bread to the Church from homes to share among the participants, soon after accepting the Holy Eucharist.

The Jews were so particular to offer the first fruit of their harvest, and from the offered sheaf the flour was taken to prepare the bread for Pesaha. In this context St. Paul explains that Lord Jesus is the first fruit. (1 Cor15: 20-23)

We should not be confused that the Holy Eucharist, the real flesh and blood of our savior with the Pesaha of the Old Testament.

The flesh and blood of our Savior is sufficient for the forgiveness of all our sins and for our eternal life in and with Him. Let us participate in it.

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1 Response for “Pesaha of the New Testament Tradition”

  1. These are personally my imagination about Peseha. Forgive me and correct me if i made any thing wrong about the holy rituals of our chruch.

    In Bible we can see the word “leaven” is used in both positive and negative way. For example, In Mt 13:33(Eng Std version) In one instance Jesus Christ taught with a parable “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” In another instance Jesus our savior cautioned to his followers “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees ——-but of the doctrine” (the teachings without understanding the meaning and purpose) “of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees”. The word “leaven” might be used to reveal the act of changing which can be of negative and positive according to the situation.

    The Passover “PESEHA” festival is a festival of Freedom. In the Old Testament it is celebrated in the commemoration of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Since God commanded to the Israelites through Moses (Deut 16:6) Passover to be celebrated—– “on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt”) and it was the feast of commemoration of God work to save them. God asked them to observe the PESAHA with unleavened bread and there should not be anything in their house which will catalyze leavening of the food. If we think more on this we can arrive at many conclusions but one thing was clear that it represents and calls for a new beginning with God.

    But the question remains why Jesus observed this PESAHA with His disciples? The answer is simple He want to show how and why we should celebrate the PESAHA (Like washing the Feet of Disciples even to the one who betrayed Him etc.). He did not observe it like Jewish tradition (–) but he took leavened bread and grape wine (anaphora of the St James – the brother of our Lord – the first Bishop of Jerusalem and is the Person who celebrated the First Holy Qurbono) for the last supper and He took both things in his hands (one bye one), He gave thanks to the Father and transformed it to his body and blood by his words and gave to his disciples and insisted them to do this in remembrance of him. What He has done is changed the bread to Thy Body and asked them to eat (Him) Jn6:51(“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”). He cautioned us without Him we can do nothing. So whether it is leavened or unleavened it does not matter, only thing is it should be Jesus body. In our liturgical songs we sing the Old Pesaha was linked with the new Pesaha with the thread Jesus. This Commemoration ceremony became a big festival for the new church.

    All the Qurbono we celebrate is the PESEHA-Qurbono that shown by Jesus Christ. And we use leavened bread for all that (Christ also used leavened bread). So there should not be a question about using unleavened bread. Our leavening to the flour might be to show the unification of all the qurbano we celebrate from the day of St James (From the Words of Late Rev. Chorepiscopus Joseph Pulikaparambil, Jacobite faction) and also to show the oneness of the Word who took flesh and also there is no breakage in the continuity of holly mass from the day of Jesus’s last supper.

    So it is better not to compare the festivals and rituals of Old Testament to the new festivals or with others how they celebrate. But celebrate with Jesus Christ’s Presence Only thing I will quote the words of St Ignathius “Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be ye changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ” which will be more meaningfull.

    Anup, Hyderabad

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