“I hate Passover!” – a friend of mine once told me. He went on to moan about the weird food and the weird family members that he had to hang out with. And he’s right – to one extent the customs of Passover can seem trying after a while. For some people, like my friend, perhaps it would be better to just say “Dayenu!” and draw a line under it all.
However, I don’t think my friend actually hates the message of Passover. After all, what could be more amazing than remembering the freedom that was miraculously given to us through signs and wonders including the parting of the Red Sea?! We were no longer slaves – we’d been redeemed, we’d plundered our enemies and we were on our way to the promised land. We were finally free!
redemption isn’t exactly synonymous with freedom
Or were we? We are told over and over again in the Torah, that God redeemed us out of the hand of the Egyptians (see Shmot/Exodus 6:6 and Dvarim/Deuteronomy 7:8, 9:26 etc). But redemption isn’t exactly synonymous with freedom. Something that has been redeemed has been purchased, not freed or let loose. To use an analogy, if I bought a dog that has been put in the dog shelter because it was abused but it’s owner, it now belongs to me. Freedom would be if I then turned it loose and let it try to survive by itself. But instead of freeing it, I have redeemed it – it cost me money and it belongs to me.
With the blood of those lambs, God bought us from a cruel taskmaster and made us His people.
God did exactly the same thing with us. On the night of the first Passover, hundreds of lambs were killed and their blood daubed on the doorposts of our homes, so that we could live. With the blood of those lambs, God bought us from a cruel taskmaster and made us His people. We were free! But we were free to serve a new master – a far better Master.
In an age where anything goes and we live with iThis and iThat, hearing that we have been bought is not a particularly popular message. But perhaps Bob Dylan said it best when he wrote his song, “You gotta serve somebody”:
You might be a rock ’n’ roll addict prancing on the stage You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage You may be a businessman or some high-degree thief They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed You’re gonna have to serve somebody Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord But you’re gonna have to serve somebody*
The truth is each of us have made idols out of different areas of our life – work, money, sex, self. We serve these idols and they are hard taskmasters! The deceive us with false promises of satisfaction while draining our lives of real meaning and purpose. This idolatry is what we call sin and ultimately we become enslaved to sin and to the Enemy, the devil.
But that’s not the end of the story.
But that’s not the end of the story. Just as God redeemed our ancestors from Egypt with the blood of those first Passover lambs, He has also redeemed us with the blood of another Passover Lamb – His Son, the Messiah Yeshua. His death on the cross redeemed us from slavery to our idols, to sin and to death and gave us a new Master – God the Father. The only caveat is if we are willing to choose Him as our Master. In one sense we are free – free to choose who we will serve.
This Passover, as you sit down with your weird relatives and choke down the weird food, think about the message of Passover and ask yourself, who will you serve. You must make a choice, because after all, “you gotta serve somebody“!
*For the full lyrics, see here: http://bobdylan.com/songs/gotta-serve-somebody/
Bob Dylan’s Passover