Bitterness and the LORD’s Passover

He hurt our kid…and that hurt us. Unfairness screamed in our minds. We tried to see things from his perspective and even understand possible reasonings for his decision, but it didn’t take away the grudge…the bitterness…I felt rising inside.

Some time later, I was talking with a dear friend, who was going through some unfairness of her own (what I love about surrounding myself with believers who passionately follow their Shepherd is that sharing life with each other tends to herd me back to following the One Who’s everything I need). As my friend shared her grief, she also shared how she’d been forgiven because of what Christ did for her, so she was choosing to follow Christ’s example and extend forgiveness to the individual causing her pain. It was while she was talking that I heard the Spirit say to me, “You need to forgive him.” I knew whom He was referring to–the one who hurt my kid. With this beautiful example of forgiveness before me, I recognized the bitterness that had started growing in my heart, and I was responsible for it. I was humbled…and ready. After my friend and I got off the phone, before God, I dumped off the load of bitterness that had opened the door for Satan to take advantage of me (2 Corinthians 2:10-11) and forgave the offender. It felt so good to change clothes…to put on the humility of Christ, instead of wearing the pride I donned when I thought I had the right to hold the grudge.

“…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], Who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be]. To Him be dominion (power, authority, sovereignty) forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:5b-9 NIV; vv. 10-11 AB

Bitterness enslaves us. Pride binds us. These two sins go hand in hand. The opposite of bitterness is forgiveness, and the opposite of pride is humility; forgiveness and humility are both key in releasing the grip bitterness and pride (and the devil) have on us. Forgiveness isn’t saying what someone did to us is okay; it doesn’t mean we forget; it’s just making us right with God, releasing the offender and situation over to the ultimate Judge, the One Who’s in control, the source of power, authority, and everything/everyONE who exists. When we choose humility and forgiveness, we look more like Christ and give Him glory!

What Does Bitterness Have to Do with the Passover?

According to Exodus 12:8, there were three foods that the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron to have the people of Israel eat every time they’d observe the LORD’s Passover:

  • A one-year-old, male lamb (a sheep or goat) without blemish or bodily defect (its flesh roasted in fire)
  • Bread without yeast
  • Bitter herbs

See that word, again? Bitter.

Photo by Jacqueline Brandwayn on Unsplash
What Do Bitter Herbs in the Passover Symbolize?

Bitter herbs were incorporated by the LORD into His Passover to “symbolize Israel’s bitter existence under [Pharaoh’s] oppressive rule. As the Hebrews ate, the bitter herb would remind them how their cruel Egyptian enslavers ‘made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor, the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly’ (Exodus 1:14).”1

“Maror” (“bitter herb”), found in Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11, refers to what was included in the LORD’s Passover, but the same word is also found in Lamentations 3:15; it’s translated “bitterness.” “Bitterness,” in this verse, embodies the prophet Jeremiah’s state and feelings–full of distress. I’d say the Israelites felt that way in Egypt, too.

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings,

Exodus 3:7 ESV

Life IS hard…severe at times. It’s easy to feel “a mixture of anger and resentment generated by the experience of unjust suffering;”1 that’s what bitterness is. Rest assured; God sees it all.

How to Fight Bitterness

Situations will feel unjust, but our war doesn’t need to be against the one who wronged us; fight against the true enemy (the devil) and sin itself. In 1 Peter 5 above, we’re instructed to clothe ourselves in humility. Why? Because God opposes pride; it’s against His character! He squares off against everything that makes up pride! “Opposes” is a military term; it’s an organized resistance.

So, how do we resist pride (and the real enemy)? With humility! How do we resist bitterness? With forgiveness!

Our Passover Lamb

This week, as we remember the LORD’s Passover as well as the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, we can be reminded of the bondage of our pride, bitterness, and any other sin that controls us; we can also remember the ways we may have seen the LORD leading us out of that bondage, unshackling those chains. Praise the LORD for His ultimate “organized resistance”–the forgiveness we’re freely offered because of Christ’s death on the cross and the conquering of sin and death through His resurrection!

Keep in mind: “…Jesus was offered the bitter cup of wine mixed with myrrh [meaning “bitter” in Arabic] at His crucifixion (Matthew 27:34Mark 15:23)”1–talk about pain and unjust suffering! Thank you, LORD, for Christ, our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His humble sacrifice, covering our sin with His blood once and for all!

As you remember Christ’s example of sacrifice to provide the gift of forgiveness for you, is there someone in your life you need to forgive?
Are there things in your life that have been unfair, and you’re holding onto them with a club of bitterness? Are you ready to throw them off, like a dirty shirt, and trust that God will work ALL things TOGETHER for good, just as He did the Israelites, because you love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)?

1 “What is the meaning of the bitter herbs in the Bible (see Exodus 12:8)?” Got Questions, Accessed 4 April 2023.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: