Thursday, April 9, 2009

An Upside-Down Kingdom Hagaddah

On this day, more than 2000 years ago, a young Jewish rabbi whom his followers called Yeshua sat down to eat the last meal he would share with them; it was their sacred Jewish Passover. Little did they realize that he was about to fulfill that celebration and become their (and our) Passover lamb.

This year, the Jewish Passover lines up with our Christian Holy Week--I love it when that happens. (Many years it doesn't.)

Several years ago, when Garrett was in 4th grade, the missions emphasis for his grade was the nation of Israel. I was asked to be in charge of the "missions party." So, I decided it would be interesting for them to "celebrate" the Passover meal. Little did I realize what I was in for!

As I sat down at the computer to research this meal, I discovered that Christians around the world celebrate what they call a "Christian Passover," which is also known as a "Seder." What blew me away is how every element of the Passover meal--the four cups, the bitter herbs, the vegetables, the bread, the lamb (which Jews no longer even eat during this meal), even the telling of the Passover story (called the Hagaddah, which means the "telling")--is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

I even FINALLY made the connection--I'm sure I had read and heard it over and over--that it was during the Passover meal that Jesus "lifted out" part of it to become what we now call "Communion."'ll just walk you through this part of the Seder:

At his "last" Passover, as the host, Jesus would have reached the part of the Hagaddah ("the telling" of the story) where He would reveal and unwrap the afikomen. This afikomen was a piece of matzoh (unleavened bread), which had been wrapped and "hidden" earlier during the meal. For thousands of years, this "hidden matzoh" had represented Israel’s deep longing for their Messiah.

So, it was no small thing when Jesus gave thanks, broke this matzoh (this afikomen), and then handed it to his disciples and uttered these history-changing words, “This is my Body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Their longed-for hope was no longer hidden! Their promised Messiah...spoken of by prophets and dreamed of by every Jewish boy and girl...had come! He had finally come!

And...He has come to us. He has come to be Living Bread, whose Body was broken for them and for us.

But...the beauty of the Passover meal doesn't stop there.

After Jesus had declared himself to be the fulfillment of this hidden matzoh--their longed-for Messiah--then He would have lifted up the "third cup of the Passover meal." Just guess what this third cup represents?

It is called the "Cup of Redemption." It was traditionally drank after the Passover supper was eaten and represents the third “I will” promise of God where God promises, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment” (Ex. 6:5-7). Fascinatingly, this is one of the cups Christ did not "drink of" during the Passover (Luke 22:18). Instead, he became this cup and poured out his life for our redemption!

Listen to His words as He passed this third cup of redemption to his young, confused, much-loved disciples: “Take this cup and drink it. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).

Their Yeshua...our Jesus...commanded us to remember His death every time we eat of this bread and drink of this cup...a bread and a cup which, for thousands of years, have been celebrated as part of the Passover Seder. (Isn't that beautiful in upside-down Kingdom sort of way?)

And, as we do, we are called to remember that He took God's cup of wrath...drank it to the dregs...and bought our redemption with outstretched arms on Calvary.

O, Jesus, how can we ever say "Thank You!" enough?

When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.

Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal
with you before my suffering begins.

For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again

until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

...He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it.

Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying,

“This is my body, which is given for you.

Do this to remember me.”

After supper he took another cup of wine and said,

“This cup is the new covenant between God and his people

—an agreement confirmed with my blood,

which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

(Luke 22:14-16, 19-20, NLT)

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