Jewish Passover was celebrated last month but the Samaritans follow a different calendar. Samaritan worship and religion differ from the Jews in many ways as reflected even in the first century interaction between a Samaritan woman and Jesus:
the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” - John 4:19
Many curious observers, locals, travelers, even orthodox Jews were in attendance. Most visitors were contained behind a fence surrounding the sacrificial area. Thanks to tickets and a good contact we were allowed full access; petting the sheep, talking with the Samaritans, and of course taking pictures.
Several deep fire pits were blazing from the time we arrived with large chunks of wood added regularly to build up the hot coals that would cook the lamb for the Passover feast. The actual ceremony was more beautiful to witness than I anticipated. This was no butcher’s shop – it was truly an act of worship that the majority seemed to take very seriously. Beautifully strong singing and prayers were offered and at the height of a specific chorus the lambs were sacrificed.
Once I knew the lambs had all been sacrificed and were being prepared I was okay. I can handle food prep, it’s the suffering that I am NOT okay with. The most impactful aspect of this experience for me last night had to do with how intentional and regulated the actual killing was/is to ensure the animals suffer as little as possible.
A follower of Jesus cannot watch a sacrifice like that and not think of the Ultimate Sacrifice of He who died to save us all. Jesus was the lamb, sacrificed in our place. What impacted me the most last night was the difference in the deaths. Though GOD’s laws required swift, painless killing of animal sacrifice – Jesus was killed in a manner specifically designed to promote the most pain and suffering possible. No wonder we need a Savior.
I included several pictures below of the evening that will help tell a more complete story. I did not include the graphic pictures of the actual lamb sacrificing; you'd have to ask Geoff for a private tour of those in person.
For more insight on Samaritan Passover, check out Geoff’s recent blog at www.TraveltheText.com.