My friend Liz is Jewish—“real Jewish,” she’d tell you, meaning she grew up in Israel. She and her mom moved to the United States when Liz was in high school, in large part so Liz wouldn’t have to serve in the Israeli army—something of an automatic draft for all 18-year-olds, male or female, in her country.
I met Liz shortly after she moved here, near Passover time. Since most of the people I knew of who celebrated Passover were long-dead guys like Moses, I was intrigued to hear how she and her family marked the holiday.
The thing that usually struck me when I read the account of the first Passover was the rather somber tone of the event. Honestly, it didn’t sound like my idea of a holiday to be packed up and ready to flee, eating “with urgency” (Exodus 12:11). Not quite a relaxing family gathering at Grandma’s house.
On a deeper level, the premise itself seemed less than festive: blood painted around the doorframe of each Israelite home, and with it the dark undercurrent of knowing every household in Egypt would be visited by the angel of death that night.
I asked Liz about Passover, in all my Goyim ignorance. Does it ever seem strange, I wondered, to celebrate a holiday whose main event is a nation-wide slaughter? Liz bit her lip, trying unsuccessfully to hide her smile.
“It’s not about the death,” she said. “It’s about getting passed over.”
Oh, right. Hence the name.
If you don’t know what you’re getting saved from, I suppose the grace, the celebration, doesn’t mean much.
And now, many generations after that first Passover, the same can be true for us—Gentiles and descendants of Moses alike. The blood of the Lamb has covered the doorframes of our hearts. And as a result, the angel of death no longer has power over us.
We, too, will be passed over.
Now that’s a reason to celebrate.
I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.