Updated: Apr 15, 2022
Tonight, we celebrate Passover all over Israel. As crazy as it sounds, just about every Jewish family in the world will be re-enacting the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua. It is what we call the afikomen.
If you have ever been to a Passover Seder, then you know that it is long. In the middle of the service, just before the meal is eaten, the leader pulls the middle piece of matzah from three special pieces. Some have suggested that these three matzot (plural) represent Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But I have to wonder if this was not a tradition of the early Messianic community and that was adopted later by the larger Jewish community and actually points to the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. You will see why in a minute!
The leader takes this middle piece of matzah, and he breaks it into two. Yeshua also took a piece of matzah during the Last Supper (Passover Seder) and said, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19).
Matzah is made without yeast because the children of Israel did not have time for their bread to rise as they were escaping Egypt. Leaven is symbolic of sin. Yeshua is the only person in the world who could actually take that bread and claim that it was his body because he was sinless.
I can't tell you exactly what matzah looked like in the time of Yeshua, but today it has very unique characteristics that remind us of Isaiah 53's description of the Messiah.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his stripes, we are healed.
Matzah is pierced, bruised, and has stripes.
Next, the leader takes a white linen napkin and wraps up the broken piece of matzah. He then hides it somewhere in the house. The children come at the conclusion of the meal and will go and look for the matzah. The one who finds it brings it back to the leader, who then redeems the matzah. The child who finds it gets some cash. In my day, it was a dollar. I'm sure it is up to at least $10 by now.
Now there was a man named Joseph… going to Pilate, he asked for Yeshua's body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth, and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. (Luke 23:50, 52-53)
The symbolism is uncanny. No one knows exactly when the tradition of the afikomen began, but it does seem that Yeshua was following a Jewish tradition. And it is possible that the first Jewish believers added symbolism to this tradition that became part of the larger Jewish Passover expression.
One day the Jewish people will recognize this lamb who was pierced.
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." (Zech. 12:10)