Why is This Night Different?

Passover Seder PlateAs we are closing out the Festival of Weeks in our march toward Shavuot (Pentecost), I feel compelled to finish discussing the important symbolism of the food in the Seder meal. This is something we should do, because without explaining what the food means, we really haven’t participated in a worship service. Without the explanation, all we’ve done is eat a great meal.
And that’s what sets the Passover Seder apart from all other meals. It is a family worship service that involves all our senses, making it very difficult to forget why we are worshiping. As we come to the table to eat, the youngest child asks, “Why is this night different from all other nights?”
Let’s answer that question by using the food of our worship service. There are specific foods that have specific meanings.
– Karpas are greens which stand for life. I use parsley. We dip the karpas in saltwater, which is symbolic for tears. When we do this, it reminds us that life without redemption is full of tears.
– Maror is bitter herbs. I use horseradish. It is symbolic of bitterness and tears. This is the sop that Jesus handed to Judas on the night Judas betrayed Him.
– Charoset is an apple mixture that represents the mortar used to make bricks. It tells us that even the bitterest of our toils grows sweet when we know our redemption is near. Even the bitterest of trials is sweetened by the promise of God’s redemption.
– Chazeret is a bitter vegetable. The root of romaine lettuce is bitter and it reminds us that the root of life can be bitter.
– Z’roah is the shank bone. It speaks to us of the lamb that was SO central to the first Passover, but is now absent. And the lambs that were sacrificed? They had to be without spot or blemish, without any broken bones. It is important to note that Jesus had none of his bones broken, as was the custom of the Romans to break the legs of those on the cross to hasten their death. But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead, so that not a bone of His was broken.
– Beitzah, a hardboiled or roasted egg, is a symbol of mourning for the loss of the temple sacrifice. As Christians, we understand that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. That through His sacrifice, we can enter into the Holy of Holies without fear of death, because the blood of the Lamb cleanses us.
So there you have it – the food of the Passover Seder. But the story doesn’t end there. There are also four cups of wine and an all-important Matzah bag we need to look at.
Children sharing the rewardBut before we go on, I’d like you to stop to think about something. If every year, you, and your family – particularly the children – ate your way through these symbols, discussing and celebrating God’s redemption, wouldn’t it stick with you more? Wouldn’t it be easier to explain to children exactly what God did for them? And there is the wisdom of our God and King. He sets up His festivals to help us learn and remember. He provides us with a learning aide that touches on all our senses while filling our bellies. He shows us how to celebrate all He has done for us.
Now we must go on with the rest of the story, because for followers of Jesus, the wine and Matzah are very important elements of the Seder. In order to fully grasp why this night is different, we should look at the remaining elements of the Seder in The Bread and The Wine.

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