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October 18, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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Devotional: Day Four
Passover: The Divine Drama
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”—1 Corinthians 11:23–25 (NIV)
Enjoying a great meal while celebrating a momentous day is a treat. Gathering with the people we love, celebrating, giving thanks, and sharing stories, memories, and dreams of the future is something we shouldn’t take for granted. It’s something we should cherish and get excited for.
In today’s verse, the apostle Paul describes a festive family meal between Jesus and the disciples. The meal He’s describing is found in all four gospels and is commonly referred to as the Last Supper. But the occasion that brought Jesus, His disciples, and His closest friends together was in celebrating Passover.
The Passover celebration was arguably the most significant season of the year for the Jewish people in Jesus’ day—and today as well. This retelling of the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt was truly the unfolding of a divine drama written, produced, and directed by God Himself. Before this, the sons and daughters of Israel had been in cruel bondage and slavery for 400 years. But God had not forgotten His great promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:2). And when the time came, God sent Moses to free his people from Pharaoh. But Pharaoh would not “let the people go” (Exodus 7:14 NIV), so God sent the plagues—gnats, boils, frogs, and more.
Finally, the tenth plague came: the death of the first born in every household. However, the Lord spared death and gave life to His followers who sacrificed a spotless lamb and applied its blood over their doors (Exodus 11–12). When the angel of death saw the blood, He passed over that house. It was after this plague that Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go.
Can you imagine what it must have been like in the upper room on that historical night in Jerusalem? Imagine having Jesus lead a Passover Seder—no one could tell the story better than Jesus! And even more surreal than that, imagine being one of the disciples who experienced the most beautiful thing about that night: how all the symbols and elements of the feast speak of Jesus. As He went through all the different elements and traditions, each part of the feast told the story of God’s ultimate redemption and deliverance . . . which He was about to live out only a few short hours later.
Here’s something you may find interesting: The word used for feast is miqra, which also means “a rehearsal.” The other word is mo’ed, which means “an appointed time; a fixed time; an exact time.” What an amazing picture! Passover was a rehearsal for the future to be celebrated every year—over and over—until, at the exact appointed time, the true fulfillment would come.
After 1,500 years of Passover celebrations, with the symbols of unleavened bread, wine, and a slain, unblemished lamb . . . the hour had come. No more rehearsals, for the Passover had become reality! The night known as the Last Supper saw Jesus and His disciples celebrate the last Passover feast. In that upper room, Jesus took the wine, which represented the blood of the Passover Lamb and said, “This is my blood . . . which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28 ESV). He broke the unleavened bread, a symbol of sinlessness, and said, “This is my body, which is given for you” (Luke 22:19 NLT).
The very next day, on the altar of eternity, upon a cross reserved for a criminal, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, became the Passover Lamb. “God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand” (Romans 3:25 BSB).
Every time we take communion, we, like our brothers and sisters in the early church (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:16–17, 11:17–34), are invited to reflect upon and remember what the Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb, our exodus from the land of sin and death, did to bring us into a new life of freedom in His eternal kingdom!
Things to Consider: As we approach the end of the fast and Easter in a few days, what has the Lord shown you about yourself and about His Son?