Passover: Matzah and the Bread of Life

Religious families have rigorous preparations before the Passover. Not my family, but those who keep a kosher home will have separate sets of dishes for meat and for dairy, since they cannot be eaten together. These families will actually have 4 sets of dishes, utensils, pots, etc. - 2 sets for Passover and 2 sets for the rest of the year.

Before pulling out the Passover provisions, a complete cleaning of the home is performed. Using a flashlight (or candle) and a feather, the cupboards are swept spotless in search of crumbs, also called chametz - bread and leavened products - meaning products made with yeast. In Ex 12:19, God instructed the Israelites that no yeast (leaven) is to be found in their homes, and they are not to eat anything with yeast for seven days as part of His decree for future generations. He commanded this BEFORE the exodus (Ex. 12:34), knowing that the Israelites would leave Egypt in haste, and the dough for the bread would be taken before yeast was added.

One Jewish commentary suggests that the “The simple ingredients of matzo - water and flour - as well as the flatness of the unleavened bread as opposed to the puffiness of leavened bread, symbolizes 'poor man's bread' as well as 'humility' and 'humbleness', as opposed to the puffiness of one's ego that characterizes a wealthy person as symbolized by leavened bread.” This is consistent with what the Jesus and Apostle Paul taught about yeast or leaven. Jesus mentioned the “yeast/leaven” of the Pharisees and of Herod referring to the sin of pride and hypocrisy. Paul called boasting “yeast” and drew the analogy that “a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” meaning that just a little sin corrupts every area of life. (Gal. 5:9)

In Bible times, unleavened bread was similar to pita or other flatbreads. It’s uncertain how it developed its current appearance, like a cracker with pierced stripes. Jewish Christians believe that it is a testimony to the fulfillment of the messianic prophecy in Isaiah 53 -

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his stripes we are healed.

On every Seder table, there is a plate set with a stack of 3 matzos. During the Seder, the leader will take the middle matzo, break it in half, wrap it in white linen (or a special bag), and hide it. At the end of the Seder, the children will search the house to find the broken piece of matzo, called the Afikomen. Whoever finds it gets a prize.

The word Afikomen is not a Hebrew word. Jews say it sounds like an Aramaic word similar to dessert, meaning it comes after the meal. Jewish Christians, however, understand the word Afikomen comes from the ancient Greek, meaning “I have come.” And the 3 pieces of matzo represent the triune God - Father, Son and Spirit. The middle piece, the Son, is broken, wrapped in white linen and hidden away, only to be resurrected later.

Jesus, who said He was the “bread of life” (John 6:35, 48), declared at His last supper, a Passover seder, that the broken bread was His body and the cup was the new covenant of His blood. He said whenever you eat the bread and drink the cup “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Paul goes on to say, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)

When we put this all together, it is amazing! At every Passover Seder, when the Jews wrap the broken, striped, pierced, unleavened (sinless) bread, the Afikomen (“I have come”), without knowing, they are proclaiming the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread."

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."
John 6:32-35, 57-58


Joy said...

Thank you for your beautiful Cafe messages on the Passover & Holy Days at this special time of the year. We will be taking part in a Seder Saturday night and looking so forward to it. A happy, healthy holiday to all. Joy

Diane said...


Wow – I’m still with amazement at the correlation between the bread and Jesus and how clear the prophecy is when you break it down….. I loved this blog….so very interesting.

Happy Easter to you and your family.

Val said...

Thanks for sharing Susan.

prashant said...

great post
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