Keeping Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread

by COGwriter

Several have emailed me and asked about how to keep Passover. And some have also wondered about the Days of Unleavened Bread (Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

The Passover, as well as every other annual festival, is a COMMANDED ASSEMBLY-- a time of convocation. It is a commanded observance for those who are properly baptized in the church age (Jesus only had His disciples with Him for His last Passover, Matthew 26:18,which was the example for the church).

Since Passover is only for baptized members in the Church of God, others who have not repented and been properly baptized should not keep it: they should not take of the bread and wine. Furthermore, before keeping it, Christians should examine themselves:

5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Since many in the Continuing Church of God will not have actual congregations to keep it, the detailed instructions in this article should help.

Note: Passover is for baptized Christians who have had hands properly laid upon them and who have properly examined themselves. In 2017, Passover begins after sunset on April 9th. In 2018, Passover begins after sunset on March 29th.

(To learn more about how to prepare for Passover, please check out the YouTube video sermon Preparing for Passover. For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out a CCOG Passover Service.) Here is a link to this article in the Spanish language: Guardando la Pascua y los Días de los Panes sin Levadura.

Steps in Advance of the Passover Service

Prior to the start of Passover, a few items are needed. Here are some comments from an article by Richard Nickels titled Instructions for Keeping the New Covenant Passover:

In advance of the Passover, purchase or prepare a small amount of unleavened bread. Jewish Matzoth, or Matzos, may be purchased at many grocery stores. The requirement for the bread to be used in the Passover service is that it be "Unleavened."

(Before using products such as Rye Krisp or any other unleavened bread, be sure to check the ingredients on the side of the package). You may make some flat cakes, made without any leavening agent (no yeast, soda, baking powder, etc.). Also have ready a small amount of natural, red wine. Grape juice was never used at Passover by Jesus, ancient Israel or the original pure New Testament Church. Be sure you obtain a natural, unfortified wine. Alcoholic content will be between 10 percent and 13 percent. Wines containing 19 percent to 20 percent are fortified with grape brandy and should not be used.

Be prepared to observe the sacred ordinance in the early evening, soon after dark. Be sure the room is prepared very neatly, and clean. Have a small amount of the unleavened bread and very small glasses of wine (one for each person) prepared on a tray or table. Place not more than a tablespoon of wine in each small glass, and prior to the ordinance have these emblems covered with a... white napkin.

As the time to begin approaches, let those who will participate in the solemn observance of the New Testament Passover ordinance come quietly and solemnly into the room prepared. Let the head of the family or leading male conduct the brief and solemn service. No unconverted, or unbaptized individual may participate. There should be no visiting, talking, laughing, joking or unnecessary conversation prior to, during or after the service. You are meeting on the most solemn and serious occasion of the entire year. All should come into the room reverently. (Unbaptized children may certainly watch and learn from the proceedings, but should not participate.)

It should be noted that having a basin for water and towels to dry feet are also needed. Also, if someone is wheat or gluten intolerant, consider using unleavened bread made from some other grain like corn or rice. Only a very small amount of unleavened bread and a very small amount of wine (about a thimbel full) is consumed by each participant.

After everyone is seated and the sun has set, the service can begin. As people arrive and/or before the service starts, it is customary to privately read passages such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 to read what was prophesied to happen to Jesus.

Passover service is to begin shortly after sunset on the 14th of the month of Abib or Nisan, and is in the Spring of the year. Begin the service without prayer. This service is a very sobering occasion because we are reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. It is also, however, a most encouraging service because it reveals the love of God for His people. We are given this annual reminder of the glorious victory over sin that is ours because of the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God.

Steps for Keeping the Christian Passover

By participating in this service, you are expressing your faith in Christ's death on your behalf, and renewing your commitment to let Jesus Christ live His life in you.

However, unlike the other biblical observances, if you are eligible to take the Passover, but unable to do so at the prescribed time because of illness or travel, you may observe it at the second Passover 30 days later (for some details, please see Numbers 9:1-14)--but either way, the Bible shows it is only kept once per year.

We are given this annual reminder of the Christ's victory over sin that is ours because of the sacrifice of Jesus. The Bible teaches:

11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:11-15)

By participating in this service, you are expressing your faith in Christ's death on your behalf, following in the examples of the apostles, and renewing your commitment to let Jesus Christ live His life in you. The Bible shows that through Jesus' death we can be holy and blameless in God's sight:

22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight (Colossians 1:22).

The Passover service reminds us of Christ's sacrifice and His plan for us.

Jesus taught:

20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20)

Some refer to this evening as the Lord's Supper, but it is not a supper meal. This "supper" idea seemed to cause such problems in the Apostle Paul's day, he wrote, "when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper" (1 Corinthians 11:20)--the Apostle Paul wanted people to actually eat a meal at home if they are hungry as he also wrote, " if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home" (1 Corinthians 11:34).

While some call the taking of the symbols "communion" (and the symbols of bread and wine do represent communion per 1 Corinthians 10:16) Jesus repeatedly referred to this whole evening as the Passover:

8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat."

9 So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?"

10 And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready."

13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:8-16)

The Apostle Paul wrote about this to give us better understanding why one renews his commitment every year with the Father and His son Jesus Christ:

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:23-32)

Christians are to examine themselves prior to Passover (see also the YouTube sermon Preparing for Passover) and are to keep it as Jesus did.

Footwashing

In John 13:2, it shows that after supper was ended (hence the Passover service was not the Lord's Supper that Jesus taught), Jesus implemented the symbols and practices of the Christian Passover. The first of which was footwashing.

Footwashing helps show humility and that even the followers of Jesus have areas that need to be cleaned (cf. John 13:10).

Notice the instructions from Jesus:

2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?"

7 Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."

8 Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!"

Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me."

9 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"

10 Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:2-17)

Understand that most who profess Christ do not engage in footwashing even though Jesus told His followers to do so. And there is evidence in Church history that footwashing was practiced (see Footwashing section in the article Passover and the Early Church).

Then, if two or more people are participating, wash one another's feet. (Wash pans and clean towels should be provided before starting the service.) If four or more people, two or more of each sex, the men may retire to a different room for this part of the service. If you are alone you can consider washing your own feet.

The Bread

Jesus explained well prior to the first Christian Passover that He was the bread of life:

32 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

34 Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."

35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:32-40)

The Apostle Paul further explained:

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)

We become one Body by all partaking of the bread of life, Jesus Christ. Jesus lives His life in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, making us part of the ONE BODY OF CHRIST HIS CHURCH AS PART OF THE BEGOTTEN FAMILY OF GOD. The small piece of unleavened bread we eat symbolizes Jesus' body that was broken and beaten for our sins.

The bread is symbol of Jesus' body::

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Luke 22:14-19)

Isaiah told about the suffering of Jesus:

1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:1-12)

It is "with his stripes we are healed." Jesus' body was beaten, and He suffered a severe bruising and affliction in order that our physical and spiritual health would be cleansed and healed. He demonstrated His total trust in the Father who, if He had improper ambitions, could have not raised Jesus from the dead. But Jesus knew the Father and the Father knew Him:

15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (John 10:15-16).

The Apostle Peter wrote:

20...But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 "Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:20-25)

We look to Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith also for our healing on a regular basis. We often claim this healing promise many times throughout our physical lives. Many of God's people have truly experienced such physical and spiritual healings throughout their lives many times. This is indeed an additional blessing to be claimed at this service as well as recognizing that Jesus' shed blood and broken body has forgiven our sins for all eternity. When we are born into the family of God, as spirit beings, as children of God we will be cleansed permanently. Jesus suffered in order that we will someday be like him (cf. James 5:14-16; 1 John 3:2-3).

The Prayer over the Bread

Remove the napkin from the bread and pray over it, asking God to bless it as a symbol of Christ's body, broken for us. Where two or more are gathered in His name, Jesus is present (Matthew 18:20). This prayer should include the fact that Christ suffered for us and we must be willing to suffer as He did for righteousness' sake. Jesus' stripes are for our healing, both physical and spiritual. "By His Stripes" are we healed. Thank God for His love and all His mercies and benefits toward us. Ask God to give us His mind and attitude of service, as members of the Body of Christ, through a continual "outpouring" of His Holy Spirit in each of his truly converted sons and daughters.

Then break the bread into small bits--if you know how many people are present, break the correct amount. After being served, each person should quietly and solemnly eat the small piece of bread reflecting on what Jesus did not only for all of mankind, but for us as individuals.

The Wine

The next symbol to partake of is a small amount of wine (this preferably should be red wine, unfortified; that is what was normally used at the time of Jesus; note: this does not have to be 'kosher' and approved by a rabbi, as that is not specified in the Bible nor would that seem to have been how wine was made in New Testament times). Normally the wine is in a very small cup, the amount tends to be about 1/4 of that in what is often called a small "shot-glass."

Jesus introduced the use of the wine cup:

20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:20)

The cup symbolized His blood. As blood is red and grape juice back then was not, this was a reference to red wine, not juice. The Bible teaches that wine is the blood of the grape (Deuteronomy 32:14).

It was not reasonable to conclude that they were drinking grape juice at Passover in Jesus' time as grapes are NOT in season then. Grapes ripen in the late Summer or early Fall.  Having been to Israel once, it occurred to me that they would not have had any way to store the juice. They did not have refrigeration and there was not enough freezing there to freeze very much for very long.

Grape juice would not last through the winter and into the Spring back then. It would have spoiled and not been fit to drink as juice by the time of Passover (which is always in the Spring).

Thus it is not logical to conclude that grape juice was used by Jesus in His final Passover. Wine, on the other hand, can be stored for years.

Jesus used wine for Passover. We in the CCOG use wine for Passover too.

The Bible teaches that Jesus shed His blood for the remission of our sins:

22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)

26 He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:26-28)

7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence (Ephesians 1:7-8)

Jesus shed His blood for our sins. Notice also:

27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." (Matthew 26:27-29)

Jesus foretold the coming kingdom also at His last Passover.

The Prayer over the Wine

Then uncover and pray over the wine, giving thanks and asking God to bless it to this sacred use as the symbol of Christ's blood, shed for the remission of our sins. Thank God for giving us His only Son to die for us, washing us clean that we might be reconciled to God. Thank Him for Christ's willingness to submit to His Father's will, even to death. Each member should take a glass and quietly and reverently drink it. Replace the glass on the tray or table, cover them and the unused bread again with the napkin.

Additional Scriptural Readings

After the bread and wine are covered, the leader will read aloud portions from John 13:31 on through the 18th chapter of John. Since that is rather long, the leader may, in advance of the service, mark certain portions of these chapters to be read instead of reading all of it.

John 13

31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, 'Where I am going, you cannot come,' so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

36 Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, where are You going?"

Jesus answered him, "Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward."

37 Peter said to Him, "Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake."

38 Jesus answered him, "Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

John 14

1"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know."

5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?"

6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. 7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."

8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us."

9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

It should be noted that the Hebrew word for the Spirit of God in the Old Testament (Genesis 1:2) is feminine and the Greek word for that Spirit in the New Testament is masculine. Many languages other than English use gender and hence although some interpret that the Holy Spirit is masculine and a separate member of the Godhead from passages like John 14:17, this is not truly supported by the totality of scripture.

19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?"

23 Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me. 25 "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You have heard Me say to you, 'I am going away and coming back to you.' If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, 'I am going to the Father,' for My Father is greater than I.

29 "And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.

John 15

1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. 11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'

26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

John 16

1 "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

"And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

5 "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

12 "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

16 "A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father."

17 Then some of His disciples said among themselves, "What is this that He says to us, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'; and, 'because I go to the Father'?" 18 They said therefore, "What is this that He says, 'A little while'? We do not know what He is saying."

19 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, "Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, 'A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me'? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.
23 "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

25 "These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father."

29 His disciples said to Him, "See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God."

31 Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

John 17

1 Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

6 "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.

9 "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.

20 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 24 "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them."

John 18

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"

5 They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth."
Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground.

7 Then He asked them again, "Whom are you seeking?"
And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

8 Jesus answered, "I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way," 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none."

10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"

Notice that Jesus voluntarily submitted to His death. He made the sacrifice for all of us. That is something to contemplate, not only at Passover, but the rest of the year.

Hymn and Dismissal

When the scripture reading is finished, like Jesus and the disciples did sing a hymn ("they sung a hymn" per Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26). Then dismiss, quietly leaving the room without lengthy conversation. Hymns can be found at the following link: http://www.ccog.org/hymns/bible-hymnal.pdf and accompaniment for most of those hymns can be found at the following link: http://www.ccog.org/choral-accompaniment-to-bible-hymnal/

When the service has ended, and the people have left the room, the one in charge should discard any portion of the bread and wine left over that was taken into the room for the service and that had been blessed. Only such wine or bread actually taken into the room for the service, and prayed over during the service, need be discarded. None of this bread or wine ought to be consumed for any other purpose after the service. Quickly and completely dispose of the bread and wine to prevent any further use.

Why We Don't Sacrifice and Eat Passover Lambs?

The following was written by Lawson Briggs and answers a question that some have wondered about:

Today SINCE Jesus Christ was the God of the Old Testament who spoke to ancien t Israel, and the Personage who originally instituted the Old Testament Passover, He had the authority to change it. And He actually did change the manner of its observance! Notice the Gospel account: As they were eating the Passover supper "Jesus took (unleavened] bread and blessed it .. . and gave it to the disciples and said, Take eat; this is [represents] my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is [represents] my blood of the new testamen t, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:26-28). To understand the true significance of this scripture, we need to review several Old Testament scriptures and some of Jesus' own statements made during His ministry prior to this Passover night. Notice first that the Prophet Isaiah understood that the Passover lamb was a type of Christ. He wrote, regarding the death of the Messiah : " ... He . is brought as a lamb to the slaughter" (Isa. 53 :7). John the Baptist, carrying out his own commission of preparing the way for Christ (Luke 3:2-4) as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3, understood that Lamb had come. "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). A little later John again spoke of Jesus specifically to two of his disciples: "Behold the Lamb of God!" (Verse 36.) These two disciples immediately began following Jesus. One of them was Andrew the brother of Peter (verses 35, 37, 40). The other was undoubtedly John, who was the only one to record this account. He omitted his own name according to his usual practice. Later, but before He died as our Passover Lamb, Jesus publicly alluded to the New Testament Passover and the new symbols of bread and wine He would institute. He said, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world . ... Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you" (John 6:51, 53). Eating this "flesh," unlike eating merely the physical lamb, would identify the eater with the eternal life of the Lamb of God. And along with it was the blood (not in the "flesh," but separate from it, for it had been all poured out from His body...) which cleared the way for all mankind to receive eternal life by making possible the remission of sins.

As a result of this "hard [to be understood] saying" (verse 60), many of Jesus' disciples ceased to follow Him (verse 66). But Peter and John and the rest of the twelve, except for Judas Iscariot, were willing to accept it (even though they didn't fully understand it until the Holy Spirit revealed it to them - John 14:26) and were thus better prepared to accept His statement at the close of His last Passover supper, "This is (henceforth] my body." The new emblems were a substitution for - not an addition to - the physical lamb. In I Corinthians 11 :20 the Apostle Paul further elaborates: "When ye come together therefore in one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper." The supper - a full Passover meal - was no longer the manner of observing the Passover. Instead Paul went on to clearly state that the simple emblems of bread and wine were to be taken on the Passover every year (verses 23-25). We keep the Passover today because it is commanded by God forever (Ex. 12:17,24). But no longer do we kill a lamb and eat it, since the "Lamb of God" - Jesus Christ - has been sacrificed once for all: "Christ [who was foreshadowed by the literal Passover lamb] was once offered to bear the sins of many ; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb. 9:28). Instead, we take the unleavened bread, symbolizing Christ's broken body, and the wine, symbolizing His shed blood, as a MEMORIAL, looking back to our Savior's suffering and death for our sins. Clearly, the Old Testament observance of Passover is totally unnecessary today. Briggs, Lawson C. Why We Don't Sacrifice and Eat Passover Lambs. Good News, January-March 1973, p. 11).

There are other reasons (and while it is not wrong to eat lamb), the above gives some basic answers to that question.

Passover for 2017

Passover will be kept after sunset on the 9th of April in 2017. Only true Christians who have been baptized, properly have had hands laid upon them, and have examined themselves should take Passover per 1 Corinthians 11:27-28 and 2 Corinthians 13:5. 

Here is a link to a Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :)

(To learn more about how to prepare for Passover, please check out the YouTube video sermon Preparing for Passover.)

Keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread

The Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, enjoins keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, and they were kept by early faithful Christians (see Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

Where were they kept?

Luke wrote:

6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread (Acts 20:6).

Now Philippi was (according to Smith's Bible Dictionary) a gentile town. It was in Macedonia and was ruled by the Romans--thus keeping these days was NOT limited to a place like Jerusalem. In at least two places in the New Testament, in gentile areas, we see that the Days of Unleavened Bread were to be kept (1 Corinthians 5:7; Acts 20:6).

Notice the following from the Apostle Paul:

6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8)

So, how does one "keep the feast"?

There are a few things that one should do. One, is to examine oneself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Another is to remove all the leaven from one's house and if applicable, automobile. This is to be DONE PRIOR to the start of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

You do not give the leaven to someone else to give it back to you later. (Note: Brewer's yeast and autolyzed yeast extract are not leavening agents and do not have to be removed--but baking soda, bicarbonate of soda, yeast, and baking powder are leavening agents and they and foods that they are in should be removed.) The removal needs to be complete by the start of the first day of unleavened bread (for details on what should be removed, etc., please see the article Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

Humble yourself and remove leaven from your home/office/automobile. More on physical and spiritual aspects of leaven, and our part during the seven days of ULB, are in the article Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?

Normally, Christians will observe the The Night to Be Observed at the start of the Days of Unleavened Bread. Generally, this involves having a special meal with the family and other church members if possible. For more information about it, check out the article The Night to Be Observed. That evening is a holy day and hence carnal work is not to be done on it, and also conversations should stir away from business deals or such matters.

Christians are to keep the two holy days during this festival (similar to how week Sabbaths are kept) which are the first and seventh day of unleavened bread, avoid leaven, and eat unleavened bread:

6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' (Leviticus 23:6-8).

15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat — that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.' (Exodus 12:15-20)

Attend church services on those days if you can. If you cannot attend, at least try to watch the offertory and sermon messages for those days. Although the intervening days between the first and seventh are not sabbaths and work may be done on them (except, of course, any that would fall on the weekly Sabbath), be sure that the usual routine does not stop you from realizing the purpose of the entire festival. Eat some unleavened bread every day during this festival. Each time you eat it, consider that we are to strive to be without sin:

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Eating unleaved bread each day should get you to consider that spiritual perfection should be a personal goal. This festival is also a a time of rejuvenating yourself spiritually and physically. The entire festival is meant to be a special period of happiness. Spend more time in studying and reading your Bible.

Holy Day offerings are also supposed to be given on the Holy Days:

16 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:16-17)

Many of those in the Continuing Church of God will mail them to:

Continuing Church of God, 1036 W. Grand Avenue, Grover Beach, CA 93433 (United States of America).

Others will what to use the Donate button via PayPal on the CCOG Donations page.

During the Days of Unleavened Bread, Christians should eat at least a small amount of unleavened bread each day (that can be made from any grain or grain-like substitute), but not eat any bread with leaven (such as those puffed up with yeast or baking soda). Wheat is NOT required to be consumed, per se, as many grains/nuts can be used to make unleavened 'bread'. Corn tortillas, for one example, are normally a type of unleavened bread.

My wife seems to do more baking than usual during the Days of Unleavened Bread. She usese familiar recipes, but also normally tries one or more new ones each year. Some of them are in the Letter to the Brethren: April 2, 2015. For more ideas, here is a link to an article someone from Serbia sent me: Unleavened Bread recipes.

Note: Unleavened bread does NOT need to be blessed by a Jewish rabbi nor follow Jewish rules that are found outside of scripture. And for those with dietary concerns, only a very small amount needs to be eaten each day. But eating some every day helps us to remember these days and look to remove sin from our lives.

The Days of Unleavened Bread for 2016 run from sunset April 22nd through sunset April 29th.

Here is a link to a Holy Day Calendar This is a listing of the biblical holy days through 2024, with their Roman calendar dates. They are really hard to observe if you do not know when they occur :)

While many sometimes focus on the physical during the Days of Unleavened Bread, it is very important to try to pay attention to sins in your life during these days and strive to put all sin out of your life, which Jesus can help you do (Philippians 4:13).

To learn more about how to prepare for Passover, please check out the YouTube video sermon Preparing for Passover. For a step-by-step video for Christians to keep it, check out CCOG Passover Service.

Thiel B. Keeping Passover. www.cogwriter.com/keeping-passover.htm 2013/2014/2015/2016/2017 0121

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