Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Last Supper

Sup amigos? School and life have had me pretty busy, thus the reason for no posts in the last 2 months. With the semester wrapping up really soon (2 weeks!!), I'm hoping I'll have more time to post, but I'll be busy studying for Boards and getting ready to start clinic, so we'll have to wait and see. But I wanted to post today because the worship service at church this morning was just incredible. With Easter just one week away, the focus this morning was on the Last Supper, but it was presented in an entirely new way for me. Most sermons focus on the fact that it was the last night Jesus spent with the twelve before He was crucified, but tend to look over the fact that they were also celebrating Passover that night. (For those who don't know, Passover is a Jewish celebration of remembrance for when God sent the tenth plaque to Egypt (the death of the firstborn), saved them from the angel of death, and led them out of slavery into freedom and eventually, the promised land.)

In his sermon, Kyle Idelman went through the different elements of the traditional Passover meal that the Jewish people take part in. They started by eating greens dipped in salt water. The salt water represented the tears shed by the Hebrews while they were in slavery in Egypt. They ate unleavened bread, which was bread without yeast. God told the Hebrews to leave the yeast out of their bread because they wouldn't have time to let the bread rise when they were released and set free from Egypt. They ate it to remember how quickly their salvation came. Also, the yeast in the bread represented sin. (More on that later.) They dipped their bread in different sauces. First, they dipped it in a sauce made from bitter herbs and roots, and if you eat this sauce, it will literally bring tears to your eyes. This was so they would remember the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt. Next, they would dip the bread in a sweet sauce, to remember the sweetness of their salvation and of the promised land. They would then fill up 4 cups of wine and pass it among themselves. The first was the cup of salvation, to remember their salvation from Egypt. The second was the cup of deliverance, to remember their freedom. The third was the cup of redemption, to remember the redemption of their people. The fourth was the cup of praise, to remember to give praise to God for what He has done. Each cup was filled to the brim, because a full of cup of wine is said to represent joy. They drank and told the story of the Passover with complete joy. Lastly, they would eat the meat of the Passover lamb. God told the Hebrews to slaughter a spotless lamb, to paint the door frames of their homes with its blood, and to eat the meat. On the night of the Passover, the angel of death would pass by any homes with the blood of the lamb on the door frames. If any home was without blood, any firstborns inside would be killed. All firstborns in Egypt, human and animal, were killed on that night, and that was the final straw for Pharoh. Having lost his own son, he told Moses and the Israelites to leave his country. So, although a horiffic event, the Jewish people celebrate it with joy every year because it brought them freedom.

So, back to the Last Supper. This was what Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the night before Jesus was crucified. If you read the accounts in the Bible, there is no mention of them eating a Passover lamb that night. Whether they were or not, we don't know. However, there was still a lamb at the table, reclining and celebrating with the disciples. Jesus is our spotless lamb, that was slaughtered so that His blood could bring us grace and freedom. It makes the reason we celebrate communion even more meaningful and powerful for me. When Jesus broke the unleavened bread that night, he said "This is my body." Jesus was without sin, and the bread was without yeast, or sin. And when Jesus told them that the wine was his blood, poured out for all, he was presumably holding the cup of wine that was the cup of redemption, because his blood redeems us all. The Passover story and its celebration served to point the Jewish people toward Jesus, and when we read them today in the Bible, they serve the same purpose. Jesus, our Passover lamb, freed us from slavery to sin. His blood saves us, just like the blood on the door frames saved the Hebrews on that night thousands of years ago. This all changes the way that I will celebrate communion in the future. It means so much more to me now, and I'm thankful that God keeps revealing Himself to me in so many new ways. He continues to amaze me and I have no choice but to give thanks and to worship Him, and I'm thankful for the reminders of how great He truly is.

Sorry this was such a long post, but it really helps my understanding of things when I can just spit it out like that. But I also hope that you are able to take something new away from it like I was. Anyway....just wanted to give you something to think about as we look forward to celebrating Easter next Sunday!! :)

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