Why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, not the Passover

Mark, in his book about Jesus, stresses that Jesus died during the Jewish festival of the Passover.  The gospel of Mark in the New Testament chapter 14:1-16 mentions the word “passover” five times!

 The Passover

The Passover was a very significant feast for the Jewish People.  During the Passover Jewish people remembered how God had rescued, in fact redeemed them, from slavery in Egypt all those years back.  The word redeem means rescue with a price.  A slave could be freed or redeemed if his slave-price was paid.  What was the price for the Israelites to be redeemed from slavery in Egypt?  The death of a pure, unblemished lamb.

Hundreds of years before Jesus the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and God called Moses to rescue his people and take them to the Promised Land. The Pharaoh refused to let them go, as he needed the cheap labour.  So God sent nine plagues and still Pharaoh refused to budge.   For the tenth plague God said that he would come down and destroy the firstborn male child of every house – Israelite or Egyptian.  However, if the family took a pure, unblemished lamb and killed it, and painted the blood on the doorposts of the house, then God said his judgement would pass over the house. The lamb had died in the son’s place.  The next morning that child could say, “I live because the lamb died in my place.”

The shedding of blood

God was teaching his people, and us, that rescuing from bondage involves the shedding of blood.  Well, the Pharaoh’s firstborn son died and in his grief he let the Israelites go.  The Passover was an anniversary of this event.

Redefinition

Jesus redefined the Passover.  In the death of Jesus God’s purposes in all of human history for redeeming and rescue his people were accomplished.  World history was made when Jesus died.   All that had happened in the past culminated and was fulfilled in Jesus.  Jesus is the true unblemished, sinless Lamb of God who died so that God’s judgment and wrath at our sin may pass over us and we may be rescued and forgiven.  Jesus died to bear the penalty, which is death, for our sin.

We are not rescued not from slavery in Egypt, but a much more terrible slavery:  slavery to sin and death and Satan.  Sin mastered us, death gripped us and Satan accused us before God.  Now, because of Jesus’ death, sin has lost its power, death holds no fear, and Satan can no longer accused or condemn.

As Jesus and his disciples celebrated the old Jewish Passover meal, Jesus redefined it and gave it its new proper, intended meaning.  Jesus said (v22), “Take it; this is my body.”  According to Jesus, all that happened as the Exodus was just a small picture of what he would do, not just for the Israelites, but for people from all nations and generations.

The Passover was the shadow that pointed people to the reality of Jesus.  Now that the reality has come, we no longer dwell in the shadows.

We cannot be passive

Many people are passive when it comes to God.  “Whatever happens, happens” is their motto.  Back at the time of the Exodus the father of the household had to actively take a lamb, slaughter it and paint the blood on the doorposts.  If he was passive, his son died.  Being passive leads to death.  Same with Jesus.    You also need to take action to prevent judgment.  During his last supper before his death Jesus said this about the bread: “TAKE IT!”  In other words, you need to actively trust in Jesus’ death to forgive your sins so that the wrath of God may pass over you.  You cannot be passive.