The Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt after god sent ten plagues to the Egyptians. In the last plague, the firstborn son of every house in Egypt died. Speaking through Moses, God directed the Jews to do certain things. Death would pass over the house of anyone who obeyed theses directions. Jewish families were told to sacrifice a lamb and to mark their doors with its blood. They were then to roast the lamb, eating it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They were to dress as if they were traveling, with sandals on their feet and staffs in hand. God also told them that they should celebrate this event in the future by performing the same rite every year.
Moses explained, “When your children ask you, ‘What does this rite of yours mean?’ you shall reply, ‘This is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt; when he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.” (Exodus 12 26:27)
Passover is still celebrated in Jewish homes today, 3000 years after the first Passover in Egypt. Why do you think this event is still celebrated?
Passover is a special date in the Jewish calendar. In Jesus’ time, people traveled great distances to spend Passover in Jerusalem. Part of the Passover ritual involved sacrificing animals and paying a tax to the temple. Since this tax needed to be paid in local currency, people from other areas had to have their money changed. Those who made long journeys could not bring their own animals for sacrifice, so they bought them in Jerusalem.
Jesus, who was a Jew, went to Jerusalem at Passover time. Here is an account of his visit from the Bible.
As the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple precincts he came upon people engaged in selling oxen, sheep and doves, and others seated changing coins. He made a whip of cord and drove sheep and oxen alike out of the temple area, and knocked over the money-changers’ tables, spilling their coins. He told those who were selling doves: “Get them out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:13-16)
If worshippers needed to buy animals and change money, why do you think Jesus reacted in this way?