The Passover Supper

The first Passover prefigured Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and showed what it means to be God’s covenant people.

The final plague that fell upon the land of Egypt in Moses’s day brought death to all the firstborn in the land—even firstborn animals. But God provided a way for His people to be spared from this plague. By performing a symbolic ritual, the children of Israel showed that they were God’s people, and then through the Passover, God saved them from destruction, delivered them from bondage, and sent them to inherit a promised land. (See Exodus 12.)

Here is a brief description of the emblems of the Passover, in which we see many symbolic representations of Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice and our covenant with God.

Bitter Herbs

What were they? Possibly endive, chicory, wild lettuce, horehound, sorrel, dandelions, horseradish, parsley, snakeroot, peppermint, or other herbs with a bitter taste.

What was done with them? They were eaten along with the lamb.

What do they represent? Bitterness of slavery and captivity in Egypt; bitterness of slavery to sin; bitterness of Christ’s suffering for our sins.


What was it? A year-old lamb without blemish.

What was done with it? It was killed and then roasted with fire, whole—no bones broken; head, legs, and edible inner parts attached. It was to be eaten during the Passover night, nothing remaining in the morning. If anything did remain, it was to be burned.

What does it represent? Christ as perfect and sinless sacrifice for sins; the sweet experience of coming unto Him, juxtaposed with the bitterness of sin; the complete dedication required of those under covenant to God.

Unleavened Bread

What was it? Bread made, most likely, from emmer wheat, barley, or sorghum without leaven, which makes bread softer but also more susceptible to mold and other decay. In addition, leavened bread takes much longer to make, since the dough needs time to rise.

What was done with it? It was eaten for seven days. Leaven (which was probably some kind of sourdough starter) was to be removed from each home during this time.

What does it represent? Purity; haste of flight from captivity; Christ as the Bread of Life.

Blood on Lintel and Posts

How was it applied? Hyssop (an herb later used in ritual purifications) was dipped in the bowl of blood from the lamb, and then the blood was placed on the lintel and posts of the door.

What does it represent? A sign identifying God’s covenant people, whom the destroying angel was to pass over; purification through Christ’s blood, which was shed to atone for our sins.

Loins Girt, Feet Shod, Staff in Hand, Standing While Eating

What do they represent? Readiness for hasty flight from captivity; desire for freedom from sin.

Significant Passovers with the Savior

  • 1st Passover: Purification of the temple (“Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise”)—see John 2:13–17.

  • 2nd Passover: Miracle of the loaves and fishes (“I am the bread of life”)—see John 6.

  • 3rd Passover: Last Supper (“This do in remembrance of me”)—see Luke 22:7–20.

  • April 3, 1836: On Easter Sunday 1836, the second day of Passover, the Savior appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland Temple.

Our Passover

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Do we see [our weekly sacramental service] as our passover, remembrance of our safety and deliverance and redemption?

“With so very much at stake, this ordinance commemorating our escape from the angel of darkness should be taken more seriously than it sometimes is.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “This Do in Remembrance of Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 68.