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Celebrating Jesus as the Passover Lamb: An interview with Joelle Chilcott

Many Christians understand the significance of Jesus as the Passover lamb – that by his blood, death and resurrection we have been redeemed, sanctified and given eternal life. However, there are many other elements and traditions intricately woven into the Passover celebration that connect Jesus and the events of his death and resurrection to it. Joelle Chilcott, a “completed Jew,” believes these elements and traditions have been overlooked because most Christians have not experienced the Passover seder or any other “Feast of the Lord.”

Joelle has been sharing her testimony and helping other believers to have a deeper understanding of the feasts through her teachings across Canada. Here, she shares a little of her story for Christian Courier readers.

What is a Passover seder?
A Passover seder is basically the retelling of the story, with a meal of symbolic foods, of how God led the children of Israel out of Egypt and brought them to himself. My husband and I have been very blessed to have participated annually in Passover seders for the first half of our lives as Jews and the second half of our lives as completed Jews!

Can you explain what you mean by “completed Jew”?
I am a “grafted in again” Jew! This makes me complete. Growing up Jewish was wonderful. We have so many rich customs and traditions and a very deep love for our God and his Word. Ever since I can remember we talked about the long awaited Moshiach (Messiah) and that one day he would come. The “completeness” comes only after hearing AND then believing in the Gospel.

Romans 11:23 says, “And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Therefore, my completeness has come, because he has come! In Yeshua we are made complete.

Can you share a little of how you and your husband came to know Jesus? What was this like for you?
For the most part of my younger years I didn’t know anything about Jesus except for what I had seen on television. To me, Jesus was the “Christian God” – no different than Buddha. I grew up in a very closed off world, attended Orthodox Hebrew School in Toronto and was sheltered from any exposure to gentiles for the most part of my early years. I married my husband when I was 16.  By 19 I had two children.

In 1984 I joined my sister for a day trip with her “women’s group” to Toronto Island. Babysitting was included, so I was very excited to have a break from my young daughters. After lunch, the group leader said it was time for Bible study. At this point I became very upset with my sister and very vocal about not wanting to be a part of the study and wanted to leave . . . but I didn’t have a ticket to get back on the ferry boat!

That day was the beginning of my understanding that Jesus and the Apostles were Jewish and that all of my Hebrew scriptures were actually part of the Christian Bible. Over the next three years I studied with the group and struggled greatly with what I had been taught all my life. Could this really be the Messiah we have been waiting for thousands of years? Eventually, through understanding Isaiah 9:6 and the many, many other scriptures that revealed who Christ was, I came to see there was nothing to fear, it was Truth! At that point I accepted Christ and my life has never been the same.

It would be another 10 long years before my husband accepted Christ. It was a battle for him because he also grew up Jewish. After this we started to see Jesus in all the feasts and somehow celebrating them the traditional “Jewish” way didn’t seem right any more. We needed to tweak the feasts to reflect their true meaning – the revelation of Jesus Christ!

Why do you still celebrate the Jewish feasts as a born-again believer?
Because Jesus did and because we want to! We continue to celebrate the feasts because woven into the heart of each of the feasts is the revelation of Jesus. For us, there is no greater joy than celebrating the coming of our Messiah in the spring feasts and the prophecy of his second coming in the fall feasts. We feel we have been blessed to have this “inside scoop.” We now celebrate from a Christ-centred perspective, continuing in the same traditions but with more focus on how these feasts relate to Jesus. Each feast comes alive and is more fulfilling when Jesus is seen in it.

How did you begin teaching about the feasts? And how can Christians who have been “grafted in” benefit from celebrating the Jewish feasts?
The reason I began teaching the feasts is because many of my Gentile friends have never experienced the joy of what is revealed in them. Sharing with friends on the actual feast days is wonderful, but God wanted me to do more. I was blessed to have been born into a Jewish family that held fast to the Jewish traditions but this would be lost if I just kept it to myself without revealing the true message in them with other believers.

Although teaching was not something I thought of doing or was comfortable with at first, a friend of mine who shared in a Passover seder with our family asked me to come teach about it in her church. I simply said “yes,” and since then the Lord has blessed me with the ability to write and teach a complete series on all the feasts, which I now teach across Canada and the U.S. One person said it was like coming “out of the ancient into the new.” Sharing the historical roots of Judaism has helped so many believers deepen their faith and strengthen their walk with the Lord. I am humbled to have been a part of their walk and discovery.

It is similar to celebrating communion. We take communion because we want to acknowledge what was done for us on the cross. We celebrate the feasts because they help us look beyond the cross. They revealed his first coming and now we have hope in his second coming. The feasts are all about Jesus. When we develop a deeper insight into the Jewish feasts and how they point to Christ, it edifies our walk with God, strengthens our belief and gives us confidence in the Word.

The symbolism of Passover points to Easter. How do you think remembering these events helps us as believers, both Jew and Gentile, today, especially at Easter?
For thousands of years on Passover, we have been recalling our deliverance from the slavery of Egypt and God setting us apart for himself. Woven into this picture is the true meaning of deliverance from death and sin. It is no longer only a recounting of how God allowed death to pass over houses that were marked with lambs blood, but it is now a recounting of how Jesus’ blood – the lamb’s blood on the door posts of our hearts – allows death to pass over us for eternity. It is no longer a physical act of redemption from slavery, but a spiritual one of redemption from sin and death.

How great is our God! All of his appointed feasts are mere shadows of their true meaning which is found in Christ. The spring feasts are only the beginning of what is yet to come as the fall feasts reveal so much more about who Christ is and they have yet to be fulfilled. How exciting to be awaiting his return and the completion of the fall feasts! All the feasts belong to God and therefore belong to all who are grafted in.

Joelle Chilcott and her husband live in Guelph, Ont. They have five children and five grandchildren. Joelle teaches the Feasts of the Lord course across Canada and the U.S. in addition to working as a wedding decorator and photographer. To learn more about Joelle’s testimony or teaching, contact her at moc.rotarocedgniddew@elleoj.

Author

  • Monica deRegt

    Monica is a freelance writer and works as a Guidance Counselor at Abbotsford Christian School.

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