Witnessing to Your Family This Passover
We all struggle with knowing how to witness to our unsaved families, and there are no easy answers. But Jewish holidays provide opportunities for witnessing that are too good to miss! Our redemption from Egypt is so typical of the way God works his salvation plans. And the well-known theme of the lamb’s shed blood can help you explain his plan to others.
We should always leave room for spontaneity in witnessing, but it’s also wise to be prepared when we know an opportunity is coming. We have some suggestions which could prove helpful:
- If you are a relatively new believer, be sure your family and friends know about your faith before the family gathering. Passover is no time to announce that you have accepted Jesus. The shock will detract from your family’s enjoyment of the holiday and prevent them from considering spiritual things.
- If you visit someone else’s home for Passover, do not come empty handed. Whether or not you have money to spend, you can show appreciation for your host/hostess. This means as much to family members as it would to anyone else. Anything from a box of macaroons (kosher for Passover, of course!) to a bouquet of flowers would be a thoughtful contribution and a good story.
- Be familiar with the Passover Haggadah. Many of our families have only a nominal understanding of the Haggadah. Some families have trouble with the Hebrew portions, so if possible, practice those especially. Familiarity with the service will show that you take your Jewishness seriously. Maybe your family and friends assume your belief in Jesus is proof that you are the least knowledgeable at the table. You might startle them into listening to you by showing competence in knowing and doing the traditions of Passover.
- If you have children who are old enough, teach them to ask the four questions. This will help your family know that you are educating your children in important Jewish traditions.
- Invite a Jewish or Gentile Christian friend to your family’s seder. If it is not in your home, be sure to check with whomever is hosting the seder. It would be good moral support for you to have another believer present. Also, whereas a prophet is sometimes without honor in his own town,” a believing friend might gain a better hearing.
- Be humble and gentle in your story. In many homes, the Passover celebration has deteriorated from a Godordained rite to just another family gettogether with the main emphasis on the meal. Don’t be condescending or harsh if this is true of your family. Except for the grace of God, you wouldn’t have the spiritual sight to know the difference! Even if you find yourself wishing your family would take Passover more seriously, it might be best to keep your wishes to yourself for the sake of your greater story. Your family will not be open to hearing you if they feel your attitude is judgmental.
- Remember that Passover is a festive time and conduct your witness accordingly. Our witness shouldn’t be stuffy or overly theological. It should be serious and yet joyous! Remember, many family members do not treat Passover as a particularly religious holiday. The themes are still known well enough to provide a background for your witness.
- It is best to witness to individuals after the seder. Try to arouse curiosity during the seder so that your relatives will ask questions afterwards. You can:
- Pepper your conversation with interesting sidelights based on the biblical account of Passover. You may need to do a bit of research beforehand. Try learning about the geography of the Exodus, the plagues of Egypt, even how God dealt with idolatry through the Exodus. Did you know the plagues God brought upon the Egyptians involved elements of their pagan worship? The Nile River was considered a god. When he changed it to blood, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob demonstrated his power over the “gods” of Egypt. Wait for opportunities to remark on such details during appropriate moments in the seder. Be cautious not to monopolize the Seder or set yourself up as a know-it-all. Just give your family enough of a taste to arouse curiosity.
- Raise some provocative questions during the Passover seder if you can. You must be sensitive in your timing to make this suggestion work. (Some seders leave little room for questions of a serious nature.) If you can, try posing questions like: Why don’t we eat lamb at Passover? Why do we hope for Elijah? Why do we sing “Next year in Jerusalem”? What is the meaning of the song, “Dayenu”? If your family seems interested, you might go one step further and pose questions that relate very directly to the Messiah: Why does the Matzoh tash have three sections? Why is the middle piece of matzoh broken? Did you know that Jesus celebrated the Passover? Did you know that the Christian ritual called “communion” comes from our Passover observance?
Besides the suggestions we’ve already mentioned for preparing your “Passover Witness,” there are unique opportunities for those of us who can conduct the seder in our own homes. We can:
- Use a Messianic Haggadah.
- Emphasize the historical and spiritual highlights of the Passover story throughout the seder. Don’t let the focus of the Feast of Redemption be all feast and no redemption, but.…
- Don’t skimp on the meal! Prepare a great feast, and plan enough in advance so you can serve a number of traditional Passover dishes. Both men and women can demonstrate generosity and yiddishkeit in cooking. Organize your cooking time well, so you will not be rushed and harried when your guests arrive. They should not only smell a delicious aroma wafting from your kitchen; they should also sense your warmth and pleasure at having them in your home. Such details have more of an effect on your story than you might think, and the care you demonstrate is pleasing to Yeshua.
- Take a look around your home. Do your chotchkes (knickknacks) reflect your Jewish identity? While we need to be open about our faith, certain Christian ornaments display more Gentile culture than faith in Jesus. Help your family feel comfortable and included rather than alienated as you “dress up” the house/apartment for Passover.
- Give away a children’s story book about Passover instead of money to the child who finds the afikomen. This will help emphasize the true meaning of Passover.
Wherever your seder is celebrated, be sure to pray, pray, pray that God will give you wisdom and courage to make the best use of your opportunities. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (II Timothy 4:2). So, let’s be ready this Passover season!
Newsletter Editor, Missionary
Ruth Rosen, daughter of Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, is a staff writer and editor with Jews for Jesus. Her parents raised her with a sense of Jewishness as well as "Jesusness." Ruth has a degree in biblical studies from Biola College in Southern California and has been part of our full-time staff since 1979. She's toured with Jewish gospel drama teams and participated in many outreaches. She writes and edits quite a few of our evangelistic resources, including many broadside tracts. One of her favorites is, "Who Needs Politics." Ruth also helps other Jewish believers in Jesus tell their stories. That includes her father, whose biography she authored in what she says was "one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life." For details, or to order your copy of Called to Controversy the Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus, visit our online store. Ruth also writes shorter "faith journey" stories in books like Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician as well as in booklets like From Generation to Generation: A Jewish Family Finds Their Way Home. She edits the Jews for Jesus Newsletter for Christians who want to pray for our ministry and our missionaries. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys writing fiction and playing with her dog, Annie whom she rescued. Ruth says, "Some people say that rescue dogs have issues, and that is probably true. If dogs could talk, they'd probably say that people have issues, and that is probably even more true. I'm glad that God is in the business of rescuing people, (and dogs) despite—or maybe because of—all our issues." You can follow Ruth Rosen on facebook or as RuthARosen on twitter.