Holy Week – The traditional scriptural events of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. Traditional is not necessarily the actual daily events that occurred during the last week but a way of commemorating the major significant events of that all-important week. Tradition provides a scriptural focus for each day of the week.
- Saturday – in Bethany at the home of Lazarus, Mary anointing Jesus feet
- Sunday – Jesus entrance into Jerusalem
- Monday – Cleansing of the Temple
- Tuesday – Teaching in the Temple
- Wednesday – Judas; scheme: Let’s make a deal
- Thursday – Last supper and prayer in Gethsemane
- “Good” Friday – Trial and crucifixion
- Saturday – Victorious preaching in “hell”
- Easter Sunday – Resurrection
Thursday of Holy Week: Passover Meal
Actually, there are a lot of significant events on Thursday and each of the events have lessons to teach us that we read in the gospels in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 13-17.
- Secretive preparations for Passover Meal
- The Passover Meal (Last Supper)
- Disciples Argue about who will be greatest
- Jesus washing disciples’ feet
- Jesus announces there will be a betrayal
- Jesus predicts Peters Denial and calls for a sword
- Announcement of his leaving and teaching of the Holy Spirit
- High Priestly Prayer, and
- Prayer in Gethsemane
For the meditation today I am focusing on the Passover Meal – that part of Thursday that we have called the “Last Supper”.
Tonight during your evening meal – use this with your family to read scripture and take some bread (cracker, matza, pita) and some juice (grape if you have it but in a pinch use what you have) and celebrate your “communion” (common unity) that you have between you and God and your family.
Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is one of the Jewish religion’s most sacred holidays that commemorates the story of the Israelites’ departure from bondage in Egypt. It celebrates the liberation of of Israel who were led out of Egypt by Moses and follows the instructions laid down by God in Exodus 13.
3 Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. … 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.
The Lord delivered Israel by sending 10 plagues or judgments on 10 of the deities that the polytheistic Egyptians honored. The last plague was on the first-born sons … a judgment against Pharaoh who was regarded as a god – a giver of life and death. We read in Exodus 11:1-6
Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely … ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5 Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7 But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.
Exodus 12:1-30 informs us that the Passover is:
- the start of a new year for Israel – a new year celebration: “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year”
- The meal is a retelling of the events of deliverance – reciting the 10 plagues
- Bread without yeast was to be eaten (fermenting yeast symbolizes death – death of Egypt)
- A lamb was to be brought into the house for 14 days. There was to be a kind of a pet-like relationship between the lamb and the family
- The lamb was killed and the blood was to be placed on the top and sides of the door: “each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. So that God would Passover that house and death would not come into that house. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
When Jesus celebrated this event with his disciples, he told them that he was the lamb that was sacrificed … a lamb that they loved. It is his blood, symbolized in the cup of wine, that was the blood that gave protection so that eternal death would pass-over them. In Matthew 26 we read:
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins
Take the bread and say: “This is Christ’s body broken and sacrificed for us”
Take the cup and say: “This is the blood of Christ that saves us from our sins”
Pray and Thank God that the judgment that we deserve has passed over us and we have forgiveness through Christ.
Sue and I taped red ribbon to our door top and sides in a symbolic act of applying blood so that “no destructive plaque will strike us” – we are covered by the blood of Jesus.
The Passover event was for the Jews a reminder of what God did in the past. Jesus gives a new understanding. Egypt is a symbol of bondage to sin and the consequences of eternal death. Jesus is the lamb that was killed and his blood forgives our sins and sets us free from bondage to sin. His blood covers and protects us when we by faith believe in him and trust in him for salvation. The Last supper celebrated by unleavened bread and a cup of wine or juice is the symbolic acting out of applying the blood to the door of our hearts. As we eat the bread that symbolizes his body and drink the cup that symbolizes his blood – we by faith receive his forgiveness and protection. The new birth in salvation is the beginning of a new year – a new life with Christ.
Some have wondered why there are so many songs in the Christian faith that talk about blood. Now you know. It was the blood of a lamb that protected the Israelites from death when death came upon all who did not have the blood applied. And it is the blood of Christ that save us. Christ is the atoning sacrifice – slain for us when we could not and cannot save ourselves.
The Blood will never lose its power
Way back on Calvary
From day to day
From day to day
From day to day
From day to day
It will never lose its power
Worthy is the Lamb – Hillsong
Thank you for the cross, Lord
Thank you for the price You paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love You came
And gave amazing grace
Thank you for this love, Lord
Thank you for the nail pierced hands
Washed me in Your cleansing flow
Now all I know
Your forgiveness and embrace
Blessings on you, Pastor Dan