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.
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
The First and Second Cup of Blessing - Lent Mid-week 3 - March 11, 2020 - Text: Ex. 6:6-8; Luke 22:14-18 (in Luke this cup came before the bread and the third cup)
As we move to this third mid-week service we continue our remembrance of the original Passover. The original Passover was the last of the ten plagues the Lord sent on the Egyptians and was the passing over by the angel of death of those houses marked with the blood of the lamb, that is the houses of the Children of Israel. The firstborn in those houses not marked were killed by the Angel of Death. Following their deliverance from Egypt, the Lord instituted the Passover Seder. The feast of Passover was instituted as a permanent reminder of what God had done for His people. The feast of Passover was to be rehearsed year after year so the children of Israel would not forget. Last week we heard the four questions that were asked during the feast and we heard their answers.
Today our look at the Passover Seder continues. During the evening four glasses of wine are consumed. So, first, perhaps a bit of explanation concerning the amount of wine consumed. Wine was the beverage at the meal for good reason. Grapes were plentiful, but because of a lack of refrigeration, the grapes naturally fermented into wine. The wine that was consumed was not as potent as the wine which is produced today. And the wine was consumed with the meal. Thus, there was not the high risk of too much wine during the meal.
As I said, there were four cups of wine consumed during the Passover Seder. Each cup had its own name and significance. The names of the four cups were: The cup of Sanctification; the cup of Deliverance; the cup of Redemption; and the cup of Praise.
Although the four cups of wine may have had less significance for the children of Israel, for us the significance of the cups of wine is that they are a reminder of the wounds of Jesus; His hands, His feet and His side and also from the blood that was painted on the doorposts and lintels of each house signaling the angel of death to “pass over” that house. With this explanation we begin to understand the significance and the understanding of the wine and blood connection.
With each cup of wine a prayer of blessing was spoken. The blessing in Hebrew was: Ba-ruch, a-tah A-do-nai, e-lo-hay-nu me-lech ha-o-lam, bo-ray p’ree ha-ga-fen. This is translated as: Blessed are you, O LORD our God, King of the universe, who makes the fruit of the vine.
Today we will look in particular at two of the cups, the cup of Sanctification and the cup of deliverance. First, the cup of Sanctification. The word “sanctify” means to separate or to set apart. Throughout the history of the children of Israel there were people and groups who were set apart. Abraham was set a part, chosen to be the father of a great nation. Moses was set apart to lead the children of Israel out of bondage of slavery in Egypt. The children of Israel as a nation were separated, set apart, chosen by God to be the nation though which the Savior of the world (not just the Savior of the children of Israel, but the Savior of the world) would be born.
Today, as Christians, we are separated, set apart, chosen by God. We were chosen by God even before the foundations of the earth were laid. We were chosen by God for salvation when the promise was first made to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the promise to send a Savior. We were each specifically chosen by God and set apart through our baptism. Certainly it is fitting for us to drink from the cup of sanctification.
The next cup is the cup of deliverance. This cup was consumed in order to remind those participating in the Passover Seder of God’s promise to deliver the children of Israel from the bondage of slavery. Especially during their years of bondage the children of Israel cried out to the Lord for deliverance. And the Lord heard their cry and sent Moses to deliver them. This cup reminded them of God’s great mercy, love and deliverance.
Today we continue to be reminded of God’s deliverance of us from the bondage of slavery, that is from the bondage of slavery to sin. This deliverance takes place first and foremost through the shedding of blood, the blood of His one and only Son, Jesus. As John the Baptist called Him, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. For us today we continue to be reminded of this shedding of blood especially in connection with the Lord’s Supper and the cup which Jesus tells us is His true blood. Yet this second cup is not that cup, the cup Jesus tells us is His blood, as we will see when we get to the third cup.
Today then, these two cups help us to focus of our attention. We are not the ones who take the initiative. We are not the ones who are the prime mover. It is not that God does something for us because we have done something for Him or even because we promise to do something for Him. It is God who is the prime mover. It is God who initiates. God calls, God covenants with us. He is the one who sees our bondage, our suffering, our slavery to sin. He is the one who made the promise to send a Savior. He is the one who continually remembers us.
On the other hand, we are the one’s who sin. We are conceived and born in sin. We sin in thought, word and deed. We are spiritually blind, spiritually dead and enemies of God. Every inclination from our hearts is evil all the time. We sin sins of omission, not doing the things we should be doing and sins of commission, doing the things we should not be doing. We sin and it is our own fault. We have no one to blame but ourselves for our sin and our condition.
Yet, we fear not because it is God who brings forgiveness and deliverance. The price for sin was set in the Garden of Eden. The price for sin is death, eternal death and hell, and physical death. The price for sin is that blood had to be shed. All the sacrifices of the Old Testament were a reminder that the price for sin was death, that blood had to be shed. All the sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to the one sacrifice of Christ Himself on the cross for us. Even the angel of death and the Passover in Egypt serve to remind us of the price of sin. Yet, the offering of the spotless lamb, the shedding his blood, the painting of the blood on the door posts and lintels all point to the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross. And here, the cups of wine; the cup of sanctification and the cup of deliverance, both pointing to God who is the beginning, who is the prime mover, who is the giver. Yes, as you always hear me say, we get it right when we point to Jesus.
And so the Passover Seder continues. We have been reminded of sin and our sin in particular. We have been reminded of our need for washing and in particular of our being washed through the waters of Holy Baptism. We have been reminded of the history, the account of the first Passover and the angel of death. And now we have been reminded of the importance of life and death, the shedding of blood, the cost of life for the price for sin. What a great and loving Lord we have who has taken care of all these things for us. Who takes care of all our needs, spiritual as well as physical, and who will continue to take care of us. What a great God we have. What a loving God we have. What a Savior God we have. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.