During Passover, the “Haggadah” is used as a guide through the Seder meal. Haggadah means “Telling” and it helps the community tell the story of how it came to be.
I am gathering props to try to recreate a tableau of a first century Seder. Here are some of the things I am hoping to use:
Doing this project has made me wonder how Jesus and his disciples carried out the traditions. I think the first Haggdah was written around 150 years after Jesus’ earthly life, but I suppose that most of the traditions outlined in the Haggadah would have been common to most Passover Celebrations.
There are two elements of the Seder that may have captured the imagination of the disciples, if the Seder they took part in followed these traditions.
In the Seder there are three Matzoh crackers. At one point the middle one is broken, wrapped in a bag or napkin and hidden. By the end of the meal it is returned to the table and shared out.
Also, on the table there is the “Cup of Elijah”. Elijah is invited into the proceedings. Here is a quote of explanation from AskMoses.com:
On the night when we celebrate our redemption from Egypt, we also express our absolute belief in the coming of the Messiah, the one who will lead us out of this exile and take us all back to our land. We are so confident of our imminent redemption, that we actually pour a cup for Elijah, the prophet who will come to announce the arrival of the Messiah.
As we know, Jesus took the symbols of the Seder and transformed them.
The remaining matzoh he claimed as his “body, broken for you”. Until today I had not realised that it was traditional to wrap, hide and return the cracker to the gathered company and share it.
Elijah had been associated with the old covenant, the sign of which was circumcision. The Cup of Elijah he claimed was “my blood” as a new covenant.
I imagine that, despite their experiences of the preceding few years, it would have been something of a shock for the disciples to see the conclusion of the familiar traditional meal so reinterpreted.