Today at sundown the Jewish people will begin to celebrate Passover. As you probably know, Passover comemorates God’s intervention and their release from slavery in Egypt. According to Exodus 12, the tenth plague was the most horrific. The eldest child in every family would die unless a lamb was killed and its blood was brushed on the door post of the home.
But this was not a slaughter just to appease an angry God. This sacrifice would bring life in the midst of death would also give nurishment for an amazing journey.
You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don’t eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it’s roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don’t leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire. And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it’s the Passover to God. (Message 12:8-11)
Jewish men were commanded to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem if they lived within a certain radius of the city. If they lived further, they were expected to make a pilgrimage at some point to celebrate the Passover there. So Jerusalem would swell in population each year because of all the religious pilgrims.
The pace was hectic. Not only was it crowded, they had a very detailed list of needful things they had to procure before they could celebrate. They had to find an acceptable location and all the items on the menu; herbs, spices, and bread. But the main focus was the lamb. THEY HAD TO FIND THE LAMB. Once everything was set they could celebrate.
Jesus and the twelve were pilgrims in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. I can only imagine the sigh of relieve when they finally gathered at the table, everything located, prepared and ready. Now they could start into the familiar litergy they had all practiced since childhood.
But while they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Mt 26:26)
In the middle of this very traditional and predictable meal, Jesus changed everything. In essence he said, “I am the lamb you’ve been looking for. I will be slain. I will provide life and deliverance. Feast on me. I will give you nourishment for an amazing journey. I AM THE LAMB!”
When you celebrate the Lord’s Supper this week remember our connection to God’s people goes back 5,000 years. The Lamb that brought life, deliverance, freedom, and strength – still does.