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 18, 2020
The Food and Remembrance - Lent Mid-week 4 - March 18, 2020 - Text: Jewish Tradition, Ex. 12:8-11, 15, 18-20; Luke 22:7-16
After the Lord delivered the Children of Israel from their bondage of slavery in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, He instituted the Passover Feast as an annual remembrance of their deliverance. As we said, we human beings have a tendency to forget and one way to remember then is to rehearse, to celebrate, to reenact the event or thing we wish to remember over and over again. Two weeks ago we heard the four questions and their answers as a part of the Passover celebration. Last week we heard about the first two cups of wine, the cup of Sanctification and the cup of Deliverance. Today we want to talk about the food eaten during the Passover and the meaning of each food eaten.
The actual Passover Seder meal included items that were intended to be a reminder to the children of Israel of the years of slavery in Egypt and their deliverance by the Lord. The actual Passover included the eating of unleavened bread, that is bread made without yeast. As we said the first week, because there was not enough time to allow the bread to rise with yeast, the bread that was eaten was unleavened. And there was the lamb that was roasted. As the Passover Seder was celebrated, after the first Passover, there was no more need to rush and so a “sit down” meal was served with certain foods that were meant to be a reminder of harder days.
The actual meal consisted of the following seven courses which we will talk about one at a time and give the meaning of each. The first course was the Greens. These greens, at least today, consists of Parsley and this is dipped into the Bowl of Salt Water. The meaning of this course is this: the green was a symbol of the lush and abundant life created by God to be enjoyed by all His people. The greens were dipped in the salt water (twice) and this reminded the Israelites, first of the sweat of their work as slaves and second of the tears of hard times.
The second course of the meal was the Matzah or the Unleavened bread. If you have ever seen or eaten Matzah, it is actually very much a large unsalted cracker. This Matzah, unleavened bread, was eaten to remind the children of Israel that there was no time to let the bread rise, because they had to be ready to leave. They were in a hurry. In a modern day Seder there are three Matzah pieces that are a part of this course. We will take more time and talk about the middle Matzah later.
The third course of this meal was the Maror which are bitter herbs. These bitter herbs were eaten in order to remind the people of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. Today we might be reminded of the bitterness of slavery to the flesh and the law of sin and death.
The fourth course of this meal was the eating of the Charoseth. Charoseth is a mixture of sweet fruits, spices and wine which is designated as a reminder of the mortar which the Israelites were forced to use in building for the Egyptians. While this, like all the other symbols of the Passover, bring up memories of bitter times of slavery, charoseth is sweet and pleasant tasting, a reminder of finding contentment in doing honest and industrious work.
The fifth course of this meal was the eating of the boiled egg. This egg was dipped in salt water, a symbol of mourning as well as a reminder of God’s desire to redeem with His outstretched arms.
The sixth course of this meal was the eating of Hillel’s Sandwich. This sandwich was often dipped or sopped and given as a sign of special favor, forgiveness or love when given to someone at the table. You might remember that after Jesus announced that one of His disciples would betray Him He told them that it was the one to whom He would hand the piece of bread. And then you may remember that Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas. Certainly this was a sign of the love Jesus had for Judas, even knowing that he would betray Him.
Finally the Lamb is eaten. The lamb is really the main course of the meal. The lamb was fully cooked and no bones were broken. And we will talk more about the lamb at another time.
When Jesus celebrated the Passover He sent His disciples to get everything ready. Certainly this included the removal of all the yeast from the area. It include the selection of the lamb, setting it apart and then killing and cooking it. It include the making of the same foods which were eaten by the Children of Israel as they left Egypt and the same foods that the rest of His people were eating on that same might, the foods we just described.
At one point during the meal Jesus took off His outer garment, tied a towel around His waist and with a basin of water He washed the feet of His disciples, giving them a lesson and instructions that they were to do the same for others. After setting back down at the table the meal progressed with the eating of the various courses of food. At one point in the meal Jesus announced that one of His disciples would be His betrayer. As they all in turn asked if it would be them who would betray Him and all expected a negative answer, including, most certainly, Judas who was confident in his heart that Jesus did not know about what He was speaking. And so Jesus, after dipping the bread hands it to Judas and tells him to go out and do what he needed to do. Remembering that this was a gift of special favor and forgiveness, certainly the rest of the disciples would not understand what Jesus was doing and what instructions He had given Judas, perhaps to go out and give some money to the poor or otherwise.
We are told that Judas left and Satan entered him. There may be a question concerning whether Judas left before or after the Lord’s Supper. This question usually is asked in connection with closed communion. The fact of the matter is that it does not if Judas left before or after. Certainly he was one of the community of believers and would have been welcome to stay. At the same time he was falling for Satan’s lies and if he had eaten the meal he would have eaten it to his judgement.
Today there are many Christians who continue to celebrate the whole Passover Seder, including the giving of the Lord’s Supper. In most congregations, during the regular divine service, as we do here every Sunday, we celebrate an abbreviated meal. We do not take the time to eat all of the courses of the meal instead we simply celebrate the part of the meal which Jesus foreshadowed and fulfilled, that is we celebrate the breaking of the bread, and the drinking of the cup of redemption, that is we celebrate Jesus giving His life, shedding His blood on the cross for our forgiveness and eternal life.
Just as Jesus did in His day so today we continue to have our own traditions and celebrations, especially those that center around the church year, in order to be a constant reminder of who we are and whose we are. Perhaps we would do well to take note of and follow the example from the children of Israel and become more mindful of the fullness of the Gospel and the gifts our Lord has to give to us especially through all the aspects of divine service and the giving the Lord’s gifts through His means of grace. It is as we better understand the Passover that Jesus was celebrating and which pointed to the events soon to take place, and because Jesus took from this Passover celebration and gives us His Holy Supper that we will better understand His Holy Supper and the gifts He has to give to us through this most sacred sacrament. Indeed, the Lord has so many gifts to give and so much grace to pour out on us, as we will continue to hear in the next weeks ahead. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.