Today's post is from Concordia Deaconess Jennifer Kettler and is part of a series on Lent and Holy Week. Concordia's Chaplaincy Department actively contributes to our residents' well being the commitment they show to those in our care is one of the many ways that Concordia stands out from other senior care providers. If you have any questions or would like to contribute a thought or idea, feel free to leave a comment below!
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Our Lord's Last Supper was no ordinary meal. This is so for many reasons. First of all, the Lord and his disciples were celebrating the Jewish feast of Passover. What's so special about Holy Week and Passover coinciding?
- The entire Jewish nation was expected to gather in Jerusalem for three pilgrimage feasts, including Pesach, the Passover. The city was packed.
- The foods eaten at the Passover Seder are very special and meaningful. Each dish serves as a reminder of a piece of the story of Israel, specifically the story of God delivering the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
- All of the Old Testament Law is fulfilled in Christ, including the Passover. As Christ celebrates the Passover Seder, the Haggadah, or "the telling", which accompanies the celebration would have given Him the opportunity to yet again explain to his disciples the purpose for which He came.
Exodus chapters 11 and 12 tell us the story of the Israelites in bondage to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. After nine plagues upon the people of Egypt, Pharaoh would still not agree to let God's people leave, for his heart has been hardened. And so, God sent one final plague the death of the first born. In order to protect God's people from the angel of destruction and death, God commanded a sign.
Each family (or if the families were small, they could do this together) was to sacrifice a lamb. The blood of this lamb was to be collected in a bowl and spread over the doorposts of the Israelite homes with a bundle of hyssop. This lamb was then to be roasted whole before being eaten. Then, when the angel of death came, it would pass over those houses marked by the blood of the lamb. Then they were to be taken, at a moment's notice, out of slavery and into the Promised Land.
During this season of Lent, we have been focusing on Christ's journey to the cross. We see more clearly our sinfulness and our slavery to sin. We begin the season with the reminder that we "are dust and to dust we will return". Sin and death have us in chains. We need a Savior.
On the evening of the Passover, Christ's Passion begins as he is arrested and given an illegal trial. By Friday morning, our Lord, an innocent man, has been condemned to die by crucifixion just as scripture had prophesied. His blood is shed for us. His body is broken, but his bones are not.
In our Baptism, the sign of the cross is made over our hearts. The doors of our hearts have now been marked by the blood of the Lamb. We are free. Praise the Lord!
Furthermore, at this special meal, Christ fulfilled the old covenant by instituting a new covenant, The Lord's Supper, known also to Christians as Holy Communion or Holy Eucharist. In this meal, God's children partake in bread and wine that is, as Christ Himself told us, His body and blood, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins.
Lamb of God, pure and holy.
Who on the cross didst suffer,
Ever patient and lowly,
Thyself to scorn didst offer.
All sins Thou borest for us,
Else had despair reigned o'er us:
Have mercy on us, 0 Jesus! O, Jesus!
Lamb of God, Pure and Holy
Text written by Nicolaus Decius
Gospel accounts of the Last Supper:
Parviz, Kevin. Bible Feasts: Leaders Guide. Ed. Earl H. Gaulke. St. Louis, MO:Concordia Pub. House, 2004. Print. LifeLight Foundations.
*This curriculum is currently being used in Haven 1 Bible study for residents
Rubin, Barry. The Messianic Passover Haggadah. Baltimore: Messianic Jewish, 1989. Print.