12 May, 2022

Passover

by | 4 April, 2022 | 0 comments

By Scott Franks

A triptych is a picture done in three panels that sit side by side and sometimes tell a story. Today we are doing something that completes the third part of a story.

Imagine the darkest night in the history of Egypt is on the first panel. The Israelites have been slaves to the Egyptians, but Moses has come to lead them home. He tells them to pack up and prepare to leave. Their last dinner is to be lamb and unleavened bread. When they butcher the lamb, they wipe the blood on their doorposts, just as God directed, because God has unleashed an angel who is killing every firstborn in every home and field in Egypt. But death does not touch those homes that are covered by the blood of a lamb. They were “passed over” by the angel of death. That same night, the Israelites are freed, and they begin their exodus to the Promised Land.

Depicted on the second panel is an evening in Jerusalem 1,400 years later. Jesus and his disciples are in a room celebrating the Passover meal together. The group follows Jewish custom: Jesus tells the Passover story, the group sings Psalm 113, and then they enjoy the main meal. They pray over bread and break it, sharing it with each other, and then they pray over and share a cup of wine, called the cup of blessing.

This Passover is different, however, because after Jesus prays over the bread, he gives it to them and says, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” And when he passes around the cup of blessing he says, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Jesus starts something new with his disciples. Now, he is the lamb sacrificed for them. It is his blood that will save them. Because of him, they will not need to fear death. The Passover will no longer require a sacrificed lamb; Jesus is the sacrifice from this point on. The next day they will see his blood running down a cross, a reminder of the cup of blessing he shared with them the night before.

Today, we are about to do something that completes the third panel of the story. Our Communion time is our Passover. By sharing this bread and cup, we share in the same promise that has always been at the heart of the Passover: God will save us. We are covered by the blood of Jesus. We take this meal like the Israelites always have, anxious to be on our way home. Our Promised Land is the promised life of Heaven.

In later years, in the middle of the Passover feast, the Israelites usually would recite from a commentary book called the Mishnah. They would say the following few sentences just before breaking the bread and sharing the cup of blessing. It effectively captures what we are celebrating as we gather around this table:

Therefore are we bound to give thanks, to praise, to glorify, to honor, to exalt, to extol, and to bless him who wrought all these wonders for our fathers and for us. He brought us out from bondage to freedom, from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning to a Festival day, and from darkness to great light, and from servitude to redemption; so let us say before him Hallelujah! (quoted from Come to the Table by John Mark Hicks).

Scott Franks preaches for the Edgemere Church of Christ (Edgemere.org) in Wichita Falls, Texas. He also contributes weekly devotionals to the 728B site on Facebook.

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