Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
Passover Repurposed as Lord’s Supper - Maundy Thursday - April 2, 2015 - Text: Matthew 26:17-29
Our text is Matthew 26:17-29: “17Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 18He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” 19And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. 21And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” 23He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” 25Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” 26Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” This is our text.
The Lord’s Supper, what is it? Do we reenact the Lord’s Supper simply as an act in order to be obedient to God? What do we mean when we say it is a sacrament? What does the Lord’s Supper have to do with the Jewish Passover? This evening we will look at the history and the giving of the Lord’s Supper to see how Jesus takes the Jewish Passover celebration and from that celebration gives to us the sacred act, the sacrament we have today, that is the sacred act through which He connects us to Himself and through which He gives us the gifts He has to give, not from a demand of obedience but from an act of love and giving from Him to us.
In order to understand what Jesus is giving to us in the Lord’s Supper we must first look at the first Passover and understand what Jesus was celebrating. The first Passover was the passing over of the angel of death in Egypt killing the first born of those houses not marked with the blood of the lamb. The lamb was the redemption price for the first born in each house. Before the passing over of the angel of death a lamb was selected and set aside. The lamb was to be an unblemished lamb, one without spot or defect. The lamb was then slaughtered, sacrificed and the blood was caught in a jar.
The blood of the lamb was used to mark the houses of the children of Israel. The door post, up and down and the lintel, side to side were painted with the blood making and in essence marking with the sign of the cross so the angel of death would pass over the houses so marked. This was a type or foreshadowing of the Savior to come.
The lamb was then cooked and eaten while the family was ready to exit Egypt. Following the first Passover and the actual exit of Egypt God gave this festival as a memorial for the children of Israel so that every year they were to celebrate the Passover lest they forget what God had done for them. The only difference between the first Passover and the celebrations that followed the original was that there was now no need to be in a rush as the family was not exiting any place, simply celebrating what God had done for them and now what He was giving to them.
At the time of Jesus, the children of Israel continued to celebrate the Passover and of course Jesus also celebrated the Passover. He sent His disciples to prepare the Passover in the upper room that is the guest room, the kataluma as we learned at Christmas time, that is that Jesus was born, not in the inn, not in the upper room or guest room, but in the main part of the house because there was no room in the inn, the guest room. A lamb was selected and sacrificed. The meal and all the trimmings were prepared and set up and Jesus entered into the upper room or the guest room with His twelve apostles to celebrate the Passover.
The lamb was eaten and the wine was drank and this was done in a relaxed atmosphere, and yet in an ordered manner, a manner fixed for calling to memory what God had done for His people, freeing them from their slavery in Egypt. At one point in the meal Jesus got up from the table, wrapped a towel around His waist and washed the feet of His apostles as a show of what it truly means to be a servant.
This Passover celebration which Jesus celebrated with His apostles was to remember the passing over of the angel of death in Egypt as God delivered His people from their bondage of slavery in Egypt. Yet, as Jesus is celebrating the Passover He pauses in the middle in order to give them and us something new, something that had actually been pointed to in this celebration for the past 2000 years.
We might say that Jesus repurposes the Passover celebration. At the beginning of the Passover celebration a lamb, a spotless, unblemished lamb was selected for sacrifice. Jesus came as the lamb of God, the spotless, sinless lamb of God, to offer Himself as a sacrifice.
The lamb was slaughtered and its blood caught then brushed on the door post and lintel of the house. Jesus was beaten, stricken, smitten and afflicted. He was nailed to the cross. He shed His blood on the cross.
During the Passover celebration Jesus took the middle matzah, the matzah that had been broken and half hidden, the middle of the three matzah in the burse, indeed, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the middle matzah of His being buried and resurrected. Jesus took this middle matzah, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples telling them He was giving them His body to eat, not in a symbolic, acting it out way, but in the very same way that the children of Israel ate the sacrificed lamb whose blood was on the door post and lintel, bringing them into one with the sacrifice as Jesus was now bringing His disciples and us into one with Him in His sacrifice.
Jesus then took the cup of wine, the third cup of wine, the cup of redemption. He gave thanks and gave it to His disciples telling them that this was His true blood that they were to drink. Again, Jesus did not say nor suggest that this was anything symbolic nor that they should act this event out in obedience. He said they were to drink His blood, again bringing them and us into communion with Himself.
Just as the children of Israel ate of the sacrifice whose blood marked their house so that the angel of death passed over, so too we eat and drink of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, eating His body and drinking His blood marking us with the blood of the lamb so the angel of eternal spiritual death might pass over us.
What does this mean? First and foremost, as one looks at the importance of the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and how they pointed to their fulfillment in the New Testament, in Jesus, one cannot help but get a better understanding of the importance of the sacred acts that God gives to us in the New Testament. In specific, how can one come to such a simplistic conclusion that the Lord’s Supper is merely an obedient reenactment of Maundy Thursday and the night when Jesus was betrayed, especially when Jesus Himself speaks quite clearly that He is giving His body and His blood along with the bread and wine.
As a person understands the whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament and how the person who ate the sacrifice participated in the sacrifice by eating the sacrifice making the sacrifice a part of them, how can one miss this whole participation in the Lord’s Supper. In the Lord’s Supper, as we eat and drink of the body and blood of Jesus, the One offered as a sacrifice for our sins, we do this in remembrance, that is we do this in participation of Jesus so that His life becomes our life, His suffering becomes our suffering, His death becomes our death and His resurrection becomes our resurrection.
The only conclusion of one studying, reading, hearing, and inwardly digesting the Word of the Lord concerning the Lord’s Supper is that it is a Sacrament, a Sacred act through which we are given the gifts of God, faith, strengthening of faith, forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
Just as the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, participated in the Passover, so we, God’s chosen people by faith in Jesus, participate in Jesus’ sacrifice for us. And thanks be to God for Jesus’ sacrifice and His gift to us. Indeed, understanding this sacred act for what it is, knowing the gifts God gives through this very means of grace, our response is certainly one in which our desire is to be where this gift is given, when it is given and as often as we might be given this gift. Thanks be to God for this great gift and to Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.