Since this is Communion Sunday, this is a good time to explain its background. • As believers, we celebrate the Lord’s Table regularly, but few really understand it. • Understanding the Jewish Feast of Passover is key.
Passover is the longest continuously celebrated feast on earth. • It spans 35 centuries of history. • Passoverpoints to the work that Jesus came to do on the cross. • Passover forms the background for understanding: • what happened in the Upper Room • the symbolism of the Lord’s Table • the meaning of Jesus’ death
Passover – For more than 400 years, the Jewish people lived in Egypt. • It was God’s time to bring them back to the Land He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. • In Exodus 11, God detailed the 10th and final plague which He would bring down on the Egyptians and their false gods. • Each plague was aimed at one of the many Egyptian gods.
The final plague was the 1st born of every home would die if the blood of a Lamb had not been applied to the lintel and the doorposts. • The plague reached even Pharaoh’s palace. • Since the Pharaoh of Egypt was worshiped as a god, a god’s son died. • Finally, Pharaoh relented and the let the people of Israel go.
In Exodus 12, God gave specific directions on how they were to celebrate the Passover Feast. • Each family was to select a year old male lamb. • This lamb could have no defects or flaws. • It was to be selected on the 10th day of the month of Nisan. • And kept until the 14th day.
This would allow time for each family to become personally attached to it. • This lamb would no longer be a lamb, but he would be their lamb. • The purpose of this was to impress upon them the costly nature of the sacrifice. • An innocent lamb was to die in their place.
On the 14th day, the Passover lamb was sacrificed. • His blood was placed over the doorposts of their home as a visible sign of their faith in the Lord. • Thus, the lamb would become their substitute. • Then, the Lord’s judgment would “pass over” them. • From that time forth, this meal was to be celebrated annually.
Even though Passover is celebrated annually by Jews, there was only 1 Passover. • Similarly, there was one time when Jesus’ body was pierced and His blood was shed for the sins of the world. • Communion is a celebration of His sacrifice. • The original Last Supper was in fact a part of the Passover feast that Jesus celebrated.
John 1:29 – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (NLT) • It was a Passover Lamb whose blood was placed on the door posts in the original Passover. • It is the sinless Lamb of God’s blood that covers our sins, so that we will not experience the 2nd death! • It is no coincidence that Jesus was crucified on the actual day of Passover.
All the lambs sacrificed down through the ages by Jewish families pointed to the One true Lamb who would take away the sins of the world. 1 Corinthians 5:7 – Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us. (1 Cor. 5:7) • Jesus is the Passover Lamb!
Jesus is clearly seen in the Passover: • The Passover Lamb was a male without defect. 2 Corinthians 5:21 – For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. • The Passover Lamb was to be roasted and eaten and none of his bones were to be broken. Psalm 34:20– He guards all His bones; not one of them is broken. (NKJV)
John 19:32-33, 36 – Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not one of His bones shall be broken." (NKJV)
The Sunday before the Passover was the Lamb selection Day. • On Palm Sunday Jesus entered the city as the Lamb of God. • 3:00 PM on Passover: the sacrificial lamb was slain. • 3:00 PM Jesus shouted, It is finished! • He died & the veil was torn from top to bottom. • Represents that God no longer dwells in temples made with human hands, but in man’s heart.
God commanded that it be celebrated forever. Exodus 12:14 – This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time. (NLT)
It was to always incorporate 4 things: • Passover Lamb • Matzah Bread (unleavened bread) • Bitter Herbs • Raise questions in the minds of the young so that the Exodus story could be rehearsed each year.
The Lord never detailed how the actual meal should be celebrated. • Only that it should just contain those elements. • Several centuries before Jesus was born, the ritual meal called the Seder began to emerge in Israel. • Seder =order • It isan actual order for the meal and is pretty much the same one that is observed today. • Seder = Last Supper
Let’s briefly explain this meal, so you can see how Communion fits into it. • This will give you more clarity as to what we are doing when we come to the Lord’s Table. • The Passover/Seder meal is lengthy and has many parts. • We are only going to look at the parts that are directly applicable to the Lord’s Table.
Before the Meal • In the days leading up to Passover, the family works diligently to rid the house of all leavened bread. • houses are thoroughly cleaned • clothes are washed with pockets inside out • cooking utensils are scalded • vacuum cleaner bags are replaced • everyday wear isreplaced with the finest china • The origin of Spring Cleaning in Western cultures.
The family is seated in special places. • The leader of the family sits at the head of the table with the youngest child sitting to his right. • The reason for this is that this child will ask specific, rehearsed questions during the meal. • What does that remind you of? • It is believed that the Apostle John was the youngest of the apostles. • He sat at the right hand of Jesus during this meal.
The 1st Cup • 4 cups of wine are taken throughout the meal. • To begin, the father lifts the 1st cup and has each person rise as they recite a prayer of sanctification. • Jesus, as the leader of Seder service in the Upper Room, took the 1st cup: Then He took the cup and gave thanks (Luke 22:17).
The Washing of the Hands • The 2nd part of the ceremony is known as the washing of the hands. • A family member brings a pitcher of water, a bowl and a towel to wash their hands. • This is a symbolic act of purification as they prepare to eat the food.
It was during this time in the meal that Jesus took a towel and washed the feet of the disciples. John 13:4-5 – So He got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then He began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel He had around Him. • He was showing the disciples that He was about to become the Suffering Servant of the Lord. • He would be the One to cleanse them.
The Middle Matzah • There are 3 Matzah breads at the meal. • The middle one is broken and half is placed in a linen bag &hidden somewhere in the house. • Later it is brought back out with a special meaning.
There are 3 pieces—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. • The middle piece is: • broken • put in the grave • and resurrected later during the 3rd cup of wine (3 days in the grave). • When Jesus took the bread: Then He broke it in pieces and said, "This is My body, which is given for you. Do this to remember Me." (1 Cor. 11:24)
Jewish Matzahbread: • Striped – By the stripes on His back… • Pierced – His side was pierced with a spear. • Pure/without Leaven – God made Him who knew no sin … (2 Cor. 5:21)
The 2nd Cup of Wine • The next cup of wine is poured and the recounting of the Passover story begins. The Dipping of the Matzah • The upper Matzah and the remaining middle Matzah are broken and distributed to each person. • It is dipped in horseradish and an apple mixture. • A reminder of the sweetness of God’s redemption in the midst of bitter slavery.
This gave rise to the occasion when Jesus said that one of them at the table would betray Him. • He said it would be the one He dipped the bread and gave it to him. • More than likely Judas was sitting to Jesus’ left which was the seat of honor.
The Dinner • After this the meal would be served consisting of lamb, bitter herbs and matzah. • After the Meal the children are sent out to find the hidden half of Matzah. • The child who finds it 1st receives a reward.
The 3rd Cup • The 3rd Cup called the Cup of Redemption is poured. • It was at this point in the Seder meal that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Table. 1 Corinthians 11:25 – In the same way, He took the cup of wine after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant between God and His people—an agreement confirmed with My blood. Do this to remember Me as often as you drink it." (NLT) • It was at this cup that Jesus chose to be a reminder to us of His work on the cross.
The 4th Cup • The 4th Cup called the Cup of Acceptance or Praise. • Here Jesus said that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He entered the Kingdom. Matthew 26:29 – Mark My words—I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new with you in My Father's Kingdom. • He knew His betrayal was coming. • The time of the Jewish people to accept Him would be in the future. • His joy would not be full until then.
Closing Hymn • At the conclusion of the meal, a hymn was sung. Matthew 26:30 – Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. • This hymn was taken from Psalms 115-118. • This isa portion of what Jesus sang right before He went to the Garden of Gethsemane:
Psalm 118:22-26 – 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord. (NKJV)
Stone = Jesus, the Messiah • Builders = Jewish People • Jesus left the Upper Room with sadness in His heart because the chosen people had rejected Him. • Jesus sang the hymn just hours before He became that rejected Stone!
Conclusion • There is no doubt about it—Jesus is the Passover Lamb Who takes away the sins of the world. • Yet there is one final question: • Is He your Passover Lamb?
As each Jewish family was required to apply the blood of the Lamb to their own doorposts. • You are required to individually make a decision about Jesus, the Lamb of God. • There is no deliverance from sin without Jesus, the Passover Lamb. • There is no salvation apart from Him.