Mark 16:6 “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is not here. He is risen!”
The start of the 14th chapter of Mark’s gospel goes like this: “After 2 days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by deception and put Him to death.” By this time, Jesus had publicly performed many miracles, fulfilled several Old Testament Messianic prophecies, and spoke to the crowds on the kingdom of God. There was a large following of true believers who recognized He was God the Father’s promised Messiah.
But not the church leaders. Through lies and deceit, they murdered Him. As we read Mark chapters 14-16, God records for us the historical series of events that provide the clear and conclusive evidence for the truth of the deity of Jesus Christ: His sharing of the Passover meal with His disciples, His betrayal, His broken body on the Cross, and then His resurrection. And it is in the Passover’s unleavened bread, known as the “matzah”, where this history comes to life every year at this time, for anyone willing to pay attention.
Passover commemorates God’s Exodus of the Jews out of Egyptian slavery. Passover always begins at twilight on the 14th of the first month of the Hebrew calendar, which in 2021 was March 27th. The very next day begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which Jews celebrate for 7 days. God instructed the Jews to slaughter the Passover lamb and then eat the roasted lamb, the unleavened bread, the wine and the bitter herbs, and then be ready for immediate departure after the 10th plague (death of the firstborn).
The term “Passover” comes from the Lord’s angel of death “passing over” any home’s doorposts marked with the blood of the unblemished lamb. On that very Passover night, the Jews had to prepare and eat the Passover meal quickly, which is why the bread was unleavened (there was no time to allow it to rise).
But just as the perfect Passover Lamb is a picture of Christ, so is the unleavened bread, since leaven is a picture of sin throughout the Bible and this meal includes bread that is “without sin”. In John 6:51, Jesus said “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread which I give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Jesus spoke this as a direct fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah, who told us how to recognize this Messiah:
“Why spend your money on what isn’t bread, and your wages on what doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to Me; eat what is good; let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear; come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:2-3).
During the Passover meal, the unleavened bread is placed in a 3-chambered bag called an “echad”. One piece is placed into each chamber. The piece placed in the first chamber is never touched, used, or seen. The third piece of the bread in the bag is used to eat the elements of the Passover meal.
The second piece is broken in half at the beginning of the Passover meal, with half of the broken bread placed back in the bag, and the other half, called the “Afikomen” (which in the Greek means “coming one” as a reference to Messiah), placed in a linen cloth. This second piece is the focus of our discussion.
As Jesus told us, this second broken piece of unleavened bread points to Himself: “As they were eating, Jesus blessed the bread, BROKE IT, and gave it to them and said, ‘This is My body’” (Mark 14:22). The broken bread portrays His broken body. But there are two halves. The half put back in the bag points to His Deity while the half wrapped in a linen cloth, and separated from the bag, points to His humanity.
The linen cloth symbolizes Jesus’s burial cloth in which He was wrapped after His death on the Cross. During the Passover meal, this linen cloth with the bread inside is hidden. After the meal, the children look for it until they find it. And once they find it, they hold onto it until they are paid a ransom.
In the second piece of unleavened bread, the entire ministry of Jesus Christ is presented: 1) As fully God and man He was broken on the Cross; 2) His death was a ransom for humanity (Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many”); 3) After His death, He was buried, wrapped in a linen cloth; 4) He did not stay hidden – He was resurrected back to life. As our verse this week shouts, glory to God for the historical reality of the ministry of Jesus Christ – He was broken for each of us, but you will not find Him hidden in a tomb – He is risen!
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #444