September 4th, 2016
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Service Orientation: Passover is a feast day celebrating God’s salvation, deliverance, redemption and covenant love for His people. The better we understand Passover, the better we understand Jesus’ love for us.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. — 1 Peter 1:18-19
- The feast of Passover, closely associated with the feast of Unleavened Bread, was the central feast of the Jewish year. These two feasts combined to make an eight-day celebration that began with the Passover. As reflected in Mt 26:17, the two were so closely connected in the minds of Jews that the feast of Unleavened Bread was used as a comprehensive designation that included the Passover. The two names were, in fact, used interchangeably to designate the entire eight day celebration. Technically, however, the Passover was celebrated only on the first day, the fourteenth of Nisan, and the feast of the Unleavened Bread followed from the fifteenth through the twenty-first of Nisan. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 139-40)
- Being Galileans, Jesus and the disciples considered Passover day to have started at sunrise on Thursday and to end at sunrise on Friday. The Jewish leaders who arrested and tried Jesus, being mostly priests and Sadducees, considered Passover day to begin at sunset on Thursday and end at sunset on Friday. By that variation, predetermined by God’s sovereign provision, Jesus could thereby legitimately celebrate the last Passover meal with His disciples and yet still be sacrificed on Passover day. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 145)
- John therefore specifically recounts that our Lord died within the prescribed time of sacrifice for the Passover day. At the very time those lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple, “Christ our Passover also [was] sacrificed” on Calvary (1 Cor 5:7). (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 144-5)
- The original unleavened bread symbolized severance from the old life in Egypt, carrying nothing of its pagan and oppressive “leaven” into the Promised Land. It represented a separation from worldliness and sin and the beginning of a new life of holiness and godliness.
By His divine authority, Jesus transformed that symbolism into another. From henceforth the bread would represent Christ’s own body, sacrificed for the salvation of men. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 152)
- What about the lamb and its body and blood? That lamb is nowhere on our Lord’s lips and nowhere found in Matthew’s account.
What are we to do with this surprising omission and shift in focus? In Jesus’ death is there some sort of new Passover and new exodus? Is Jesus a last and final Lamb of God and through his blood God’s people are saved from death and freed from the slavery of sin, a far greater slave master than Pharaoh? In reading Matthew’s focus on Jesus and his Passover innovations, are we to join with John the Baptist, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29, 36), and are we to soberly proclaim with Paul, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor 5:7b)? Sure, why not? Or better, why of course! (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 772)
- The settlement of the Israelites in Canaan and the centralization of worship in Jerusalem modified some of the ancient rules regarding Passover. For example, the smearing of blood on the doorposts was replaced by the sprinkling of the blood on the altar at the Temple (see 2 Chr 30:16; 35:11). The lamb was no longer slain at one’s own house but at the temple in the presence of the priests who collected the blood and tossed it at the base of the altar. Similarly, the rule requiring the eating of the lamb in one’s own home was, according to the Talmud, changed to homes in Jerusalem only. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, pp. 39-40)
- The custom of drinking four cups of wine dates back to ancient Temple times. The Mishnah teaches that, according to two authorities, Rabbi Yohanon and Rabbi Benayah, these four cups correspond to the four verbs in Ex 6:6-7, describing God’s redemption: I will bring you out; I will free you; I will redeem you; I will take you to be My people. (Ceil & Moishe Rosen, Christ in the Passover, 82)
- (v. 18) The Hebrew word for feasts (moadim) literally means “appointed times.” God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of these seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. The seven annual feasts of Israel were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God. They are still celebrated by observant Jews today. But for both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, these special days demonstrate the work of redemption through God’s Son.
- (v. 18) I am to keep the Passover translates what is sometimes called a prophetic present tense, because it uses the normal form of the Greek present tense to state the future as if it had already arrived. Understanding the statement in that way is fitting, because our Lord was on a divine mission set in a divine timetable, both of which were unalterable. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 143)
- (v. 23) The offer of the dipped morsel was both a rich, symbolic custom and a powerful, ultimate appeal. In Palestinian culture the act of the host’s taking a morsel from the table, dipping it in the common dish, and offering it to another was a gesture of honor or friendship. A thousand years before, when Boaz invited his future wife Ruth to come dine with him, he said, “‘Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar’…and he served her” (Ruth 2:14, NASB). Jesus was saying, as he extended the dipped bread, “Judas, here is my friendship. It’s not too late.” Judas took it but did not turn back to the Master. So the door slammed shut, and he locked it with his own hand. (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. Two, 310)
- (v. 25) Notice that only Judas calls him “Rabbi” and not “Lord.” (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Preaching the Word: Matthew, 773)
- (v. 28) At this point Passover passes over into the Lord’s Supper; for it was while, toward the close of the Passover meal, the men were all eating freely (see on verse 21) that Jesus instituted the new sacrament that was to replace the old. A few more hours and the old symbol, being bloody–for it required the slaying of the lamb–will have served its purpose forever, having reached its fulfillment in the blood shed on Calvary. It was time, therefore, that a new and unbloody symbol replace the old. Nevertheless, by historically linking Passover and Lord’s Supper so closely together Jesus also made clear that what was essential in the first was not lost in the second. Both point to him, the only and all-sufficient sacrifice for the sins of his people. Passover pointed forward to this; the Lord’s supper points back to it. (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: Matthew, 908)
- (v. 28) To pour out or to shed blood means to die or to kill (see Gn 9:6; Ez 18:10; Isa 59:7; Lk 11:50), and blood is sacred to God because it is life (Gn 9:4; Dt 12:23). This is why blood has atoning power (Lv 17:11). (David L. Tiede, Augsburg Commentary on the NT: Luke, 381-2)
- (v. 28) As Jesus and the disciples were eating, Jesus took the loaf of unleavened bread, blessed, and broke it. This probably occurred with the third cup of the meal. By so doing, Jesus was associating his words with the cup representing, “I will redeem you.” (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 515)
- (v. 28) Jesus instituted a new covenant, or agreement, between humans and God. This concept is key to all NT theology and forms the basis for the name of the “New Testament” portion of the Bible. Under this new covenant, Jesus would die in the place of sinners. Unlike the blood of animals, Jesus’ blood would truly remove the sins of all who would put their faith in him. And Jesus’ sacrifice would never have to be repeated; it would be good for all eternity (Heb 9:23-28). (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 517)
- (v. 29) Jesus’ vow to abstain from wine was made before the fourth cup, which traditionally was drunk after the recitation of these words: “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” Jesus reserved the drinking of this cup for the future restoration. This powerful scene is accented by Jesus’ taking the third cup, saying, “I will redeem you,” sharing it with the disciples, and then pledging that together they would finish this celebration in the kingdom of God (see also Isa 25:6; Lk 14:15; Rv 3:20; 19:6-9). Because Jesus would be raised, so his followers will be raised. One day we will all be together again in God’s new kingdom. The fruit of the vine in the kingdom will be new like Jeremiah’s new covenant (Jer 31:31-34). When Jesus celebrates with his people, all God’s promises will be fully realized. (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 518)
- (v. 29) The mention of “fulfillment” reveals the complete and ultimate significance of the entire Passover celebration. While Passover commemorated a past event (i.e., Israel’s escape from Egypt when the blood of a lamb painted on their doorframes saved their firstborn sons from death), it also foreshadowed Jesus’ work on the cross. As the spotless Lamb of God, his blood would be spilled in order to save his people from the penalty of death brought by sin. At that time in the kingdom of God (see 22:18), those who belong to Christ will sit down at a glorious banquet (see 13:29; 14:15-24; Is 25:6-8; Rv 19:7-9). Jesus will not celebrate Passover until God’s plan is complete. (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 494-5)
- (v. 29) The unfinished meal of Jesus was a pledge that redemption would be consummated at a great future messianic banquet when he “drinks it anew in the kingdom of God” (Mk 14:25; cf. Mt 26:29; Rv 3:20; 19:6-9). The Lord’s Supper concluded with the singing of a hymn (Mt 26:30; Mk 14:26), doubtless the second half of the Hallel (Pss 115-118). (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Vol. Three, 678)
- (v. 29) Jesus says that he will not feast with his disciples again until he does so in his Father’s kingdom. Here, indeed, is divine faith and divine optimism. Jesus was going out to Gethsemane, out to trial before the Sanhedrin, out to the cross–and yet he is still thinking in terms of a kingdom. To Jesus, the cross was never defeat; it was the way to glory. He was on his way to Calvary, but he was also on his way to a throne. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 400)
- (v. 30) The hymn they sang was most likely taken from Ps 115-118, the second part of the Hallel that was traditionally sung after eating the Passover meal. These were sung antiphonally with the leader (father or rabbi) reciting the text as the others responded with “Hallelujah.” These words must have held great significance for Jesus: He pledged to keep his vows (Ps 117), and concluded with steadfast confidence in his ultimate triumph (Ps 118:17). (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 518)
- Just as eating the Passover lamb identified the participant with the redemption from Egypt, eating the bread and drinking the wine convey the benefits of Jesus’ redemptive death to those who share his table. (R.T. France, The New International Commentary on the NT: Matthew, 992)
- No Passover celebrated after that has been authorized or recognized by God. Significant as it was under the Old Covenant, it became a remnant of a bygone economy, an extinct dispensation, an expired covenant. Its observance since that time has been no more than a religious relic that serves no divinely acknowledged purpose and has no divinely blessed significance. To celebrate the Passover is to celebrate the shadow, after the reality has already come. Celebrating deliverance from Egypt is a weak substitute for celebrating deliverance from sin.
In fact, Christ ended the Passover and instituted a new memorial to Himself. It would not look back to a lamb in Egypt as the symbol of God’s redeeming love and power, but to the very Lamb of God, who, by the sacrificial shedding of His own blood, took away the sins of the whole world. In that one meal Jesus both terminated the old and inaugurated the new. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 24-28, 150-1)
Four Views on the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist, Communion, Breaking of Bread)
- Transubstantiation. This is the view of Roman Catholicism, which holds that the substance of the bread (but not its accidents) is literally changed into the substance of the body of Jesus Christ. This means that the priests literally handle Christ’s body and that the mass is a literal reenactment of Christ’s sacrifice. The difference between “substance” and “accidents” comes from Aristotle, whose philosophy governed the thought of the Middle Ages.
- Consubstantiation. This was Martin Luther’s view, not that the substance of the bread is changed into the substance of the body of Christ but that the unchanged substance of the bread is united with the substance of Christ’s body. Luther knew that the bread is unchanged, but he wanted to preserve a literal understanding of Jesus’ words: Hoc est corpus meus. The Reformed and Lutheran churches parted over this understanding.
- A mere remembrance. This was the position of Ulrich Zwingli and is held today by most Baptists. It views the sacrament through the words “this do in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24) and sees the sacrament as a memorial only.
- A spiritual presence. John Calvin’s view became the theology of Presbyterians, Methodists, and most Episcopalians. It holds that Jesus is truly present in the communion service, but that he is present spiritually, not in a physical way. The blessing of the communion service is a real blessing linked to the observance of the sacrament, but it is to be received by faith as are all other spiritual blessings. There is nothing automatic or mechanical about its observance. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 560)
The question to be answered is . . . What connections do God and Matthew want us to make between the Jewish feast day of Passover and the Lord’s Supper?
Answer: At least 4. Passover celebrates God’s deliverance, liberation, redemption and covenant love for His people. Jesus is the reality behind the shadow of that first Passover.
In the traditional Passover meal, the wine is served four times, symbolizing the four-part promise of redemption found in Ex 6:6-7. (1) “I will bring you out”; (2) “I will rescue you from their bondage”; (3) “I will redeem you”; and (4) “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God” (NKVJ). (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 495)
Greil Marcus, writing in Esquire, said, “I can go where I want, do what I want, say what I want. There are no rules. Freedom’s just another word for a mess someone else has to clean up.” (August 1992). (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 17)
There is surely here a stark contradiction between our Lord’s definition and the popular conception today of what it means to be free. You get to a junction in the road and you are free to turn left or right. A man or a woman is free to marry or to stay single. Every citizen is free to vote for a right-wing candidate or for a left-wing candidate. What this amounts to is that we locate freedom in the empty space before a decision is made. But Christ’s words seem to locate true freedom in the space that follows upon decision. You may choose to sin or not to sin, but if you choose to sin you have lost your freedom and have become a slave to sin. Freedom appears to be something that you gain or forfeit. It seems to stand on the further side of choice and decision. (Harry Blamires; The Post Christian Mind, 140)
The notion that freedom essentially consists in the absence of constraints will not hold water. Indeed, constraints are often a guarantee of freedom. It is because our country’s laws do not leave us “free” to choose which side of the road to drive on that we can freely move about. A series of constraints has been formulated to guarantee our freedom in that respect. There are rules about yielding at crossroads, about pausing at traffic lights, about when to dim the headlights. If someone suggested to you that these regulations constituted a tyrannous diminution of your freedom, you would reply, “On the contrary, it is because these regulations are enforced that we can freely drive about our roads in safety.” The constraints provide an essential safeguard of our freedom as drivers. Without them roads on which streams of traffic now move smoothly and safely would be clogged up quickly with crashed vehicles.
Far from reducing freedom, constraints and regulations may confer freedom. This, of course, is one of the principles on which our civilization has been built. It was the principle behind laws and protocols accepted in the past, even those that condemned witchcraft, adultery and homosexual practices. No doubt we are right to have escaped such legislation. But we need to recall that the more recent abolition of restraints that protected marriage and the family can scarcely be said to have been productive of greater happiness, increased mental stability or reduced crime. (Harry Blamires; The Post Christian Mind, 144)
By choosing instead the bread and wine (nonsacrificial elements of the Passover meal) as the emblems of His atoning death, Jesus detached the new Passover from the sacrificial system and transformed it into a fitting memorial of His redemption. This radical transformation can be seen also, for example, in the cup of blessing of the paschal meal which becomes the cup of salvation “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). By these few words, Paul shows that though some of the elements of the Jewish Passover survive, their meanings have changed. The sacrifice of Jesus is the new reality commemorated by the remaining ancient signs. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 68)
In the Western world, this rejection of sin began with the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers rejected the biblical God and quickly denied human sin as well. The French social philosopher Rousseau said, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains,” because society has enslaved him. Freud took this one step further and taught that humans are simply animals. The bottom line? There is no sin, no soul, no conscience; we are simply manipulated by forces beyond our control. In other words, Freud said, we are not responsible for our actions. Society or some other influence outside of ourselves compels us to do what we do. This denial of sin can lead to utopianism, whose proponents say, “Give me power, and I’ll create a good society so good people can life well.” But utopianism always leads to tyranny, as utopians Hitler, Lennin, Stalin, and Mao demonstrated. (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 248-9)
The Word for the Day is . . . Save
The world has never had a good definition of the word “Liberty,” and the American people, just now, are much in need of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word “liberty” may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name. “Liberty,” and it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names – “Liberty” and “tyranny.” — Abraham Lincoln
What should Christians take away from Passover?:
I- Passover demonstrated God’s desire to deliver His people from Egypt to the Promised Land.
(Ex chps 4-15; 14:13; 1 Sm 2:1; 9:16; 10:18; 12:10-11; 14:48; 17:37; 2 Sm 4:9; 18:19, 28, 31; 19:9; 22:1-2; 1 Kgs 1:29; 2 Kgs 17:13, 39; 1 Chr 16:35; 2 Chr 20:17; 24:24; Ps 3:7-8; 6:4; 7:1; 22:4, 8, 20; 31:1, 15; 34:4, 17, 19; 37:40; 41:1; 54:7; 59:1-2; 69:14; 70:5; 71:2, 4; 79:9; 82:4; 86:13; 91:15; 97:10; ch 105; 107:6; 109:21; 116:8; 119:153, 170; 144:2, 7, 10-11; Isa 37:20; Jer 42:11; Dn 12:1; Joel 2:32)
The Passover Feast was a commemoration of deliverance; its whole intention was to remind the people of Israel of how God had liberated them from slavery in Egypt. First and foremost, Jesus claimed to be the great liberator. He came to liberate us from fear and from sin. He liberates us from the fears which haunt us and from the sins which will not let us go. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 398)
II- Passover demonstrated God’s desire to free His people from bondage. (Ex 3:7; chps 4-15; 20:2; Dt 5:6; 6:12; 7:8; 8:14; 13:5, 10; Josh 24:17; Jdg 6:8; Ps 105; 116:16; 118:5; 119:32; 142:7; 146:7; Isa 42:6-7; 58:6; 61:1-3; Jer 34:13; Micah 6:4; Lk 4:18; Rom 6:22; 7:14-25; 8:2, 15, 21; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 4:3-5:1)
As the Israelites were in bondage to Egypt and needed physical redemption, so all people are in bondage to sin and need to be forgiven and deemed the people of God. This broader redemption is available for all, whether Jews or Gentiles, who will trust in the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah. But it is available only through the Messiah, Jesus. This is the redemption that brings true freedom from the bondage and hopelessness of sin and separation from a holy God. (Ceil & Moishe Rosen, Christ in the Passover, 110)
III- Passover demonstrated God’s desire to reconcile and redeem His people from alienation and judgment. (Gn 22:8; Ex ch 12; Lv 23:5; Isa 53; Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; Lk 19:10; Jn 1:29, 36; 3:16; Rom chps 3-6; 1 Cor 1:30; 5:7; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Gal 1:4; 4:4-5; Eph 2:15-18; Col 1:14-22; Ti 2:14; Heb 2:17; 9:12-15; 1 Pt 1:18-19; Rv 5:6, 9-10; 7:15)
Leaven in the Bible is almost always a symbol of sin. The putting away of all leaven is a picture of the sanctification of the child of God. Cleansed, redeemed by God’s lamb, the true believer must put away the sinful leaven of the old life before redemption. (Ceil & Moishe Rosen, Christ in the Passover, 35)
Reconciliation with God always requires blood, an atoning sacrifice. And since man himself is unable to render such a sacrifice, a substitutionary offering, accepted by faith, is required (Isa 53:6, 8, 10, 12; Mt 20:28; Mk 10:45; Jn 3:16; 6:51; Rom 5:19; 8:32; 2 Cor 5:20, 21; Gal 2:20; 3:13; 1 Pt 2:24). (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Luke, 963)
Through the vicarious death of sacrificial animals, the Israelite accepted the provision of forgiveness and salvation. Similarly, through the vicarious death of Christ, the Christian accepts the provision of His redemption. As the blood of the Passover lamb kept God from killing the firstborn of the Hebrews, so the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross keeps God from punishing with death the penitent sinner. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 69-70)
The ancient Hebrew women used the sourdough method of leavening their bread. Before forming the dough into loaves ready for baking, they would pull off a chunk of the raw dough and set it aside in a cool, moist place. When it was time to bake another batch of bread, they brought out the reserved lump and mixed it into the fresh batch of flour and water to leaven the next loaves (again setting aside a small lump of the newly mixed dough). Each “new generation” of bread was organically linked by the common yeast spores to the previous loaves of bread. The human race bears this same kind of link to the sin nature of our first father, Adam. (Ceil & Moishe Rosen, Christ in the Passover, 35)
On the other hand, Paul described the unleavened bread as sincerity and truth. The Hebrew word matzo (unleavened) means “sweet, without sourness.” The unleavened bread typified the sweetness and wholesomeness of life without sin. It foreshadowed the sinless, perfect life of the Messiah, who would come to lay down His life as God’s ultimate Passover Lamb. In Passover observances after the cessation of the Temple sacrifices, the matzo (unleavened bread) took on added significance when the rabbis decreed it to be a memorial of the Passover lamb. (Ceil & Moishe Rosen, Christ in the Passover, 36)
On that night of destruction, it was the blood of the Passover lamb which kept Israel safe. So, Jesus was claiming to be Savior. He had come to save us from our sins and from their consequences. He had come to give safety on earth and safety in heaven, safety in time and safety in eternity. (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 399)
IV- Passover demonstrated God’s desire to make His people His own in His covenant. (Ex 12; 13:7; Mt 13:5; 16:11-12; (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 1:72; 22:20; Acts 3:25; Rom 11:27; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:14; Gal 3:15-17 Mk 8:15; Lk 12:1; 1 Cor 5:6-8; Gal chps 3-4; 5:9; Heb 7:22; 8:6-13; 9:1, 4, 13-20; 10:16, 29)
Jesus made the vow to abstain from wine before the fourth cup, which traditionally was drunk after the recitation of these words: “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” Jesus reserved the drinking of this cup for the future restoration. This powerful scene is accented by Jesus’ taking the third cup, saying, “I will redeem you,” sharing the cup with the disciples, and then pledging that together they would finish this celebration in the kingdom of God (see also 14:15; Is 25:6; Rv 3:20; 19:6-9). (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 495-6)
The covenant is at the core of the Passover account. On the eve of the Exodus, God revealed Himself as the God who remembered His Covenant to the Fathers (Ex 2:24; 3:15). The Passover lamb whose blood was struck with a bunch of hyssop over the lintel and doorposts of the houses (Ex 12:7, 22) represented the outworking of God’s covenant to protect and deliver the Israelites.
Similarly, on the eve of His Crucifixion, Christ reaffirmed His covenant by His willingness to shed His blood. At the Lord’s Table, believers enter into fellowship with the exalted Lord. Paul describes this fellowship as “a participation in the blood…[and] body of Christ” (1 Cor 10:16). The benefits of Christ’s atoning death are mediated to believers in the present when they partake of the emblems of His blood and body. Thus the Christian Passover reaffirms the eternal Covenant that God promised to the fathers (Jer 32:40; 50:5; cf. Is 55:3; Ez 16:60) and seals it in the blood of the Messiah (Heb 13:20). (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 70)
CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: How can understanding the Lord’s Supper and Passover secure our faith?:
A- Recognize your current status and believe the reality of God’s Promised Land. (Rom 8:18-25; 2 Cor 4:7-5:10; Heb 11:13-16, 39-40; 1 Pt 1:3-9)
Jesus’ last supper with his disciples is a poignant picture of something all Christians experience: the fulfillment of their present relationship with him and the longing for their future completion in him. Jesus “eagerly desired” to share the Passover meal with his closest friends, the disciples; at the same time Jesus looked forward to its ultimate fulfillment at his return. Believers today live an in-between life as followers of Christ. They already experience the peace, forgiveness, and satisfaction, that come from knowing Jesus. Yet they also long for the consummation of their faith, that day when believers will be perfected and completed in his presence. Do you sometimes feel that tension? If so, don’t worry. It is the normal experience of God’s people awaiting the return of Christ. (Bruce B. Barton, D.Min., Life Application Bible Commentary: Luke, 494)
“Death is the supreme festival on the path (way) to freedom” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer (shortly before his execution in a German Concentration camp)
B- Realize and confess your bondage. (see: Mk 5:34; Lk 4:18; 13:12; Jn 8:31-36; Rom 3:9-24; 6:6-7, 16, 19-22; ch 7; 8:2; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 2:4; ch. 4; 5:1, 13; Eph 3:12; Col 1:22; Heb 2:15; 13:5; Jam 1:25; 2:12; 1 Pt 2:16; 2 Pt 2:19; Rv 1:5)
This, in essence is what Christ does for us. He gives us a new heart. God has written his laws within us. He has made his people partakers of the divine nature (2 Pt 1:4). True, we still battle with our fleshly nature, but through baptism into Christ’s Body, God’s laws are no longer external and foreign but internal (cf. Jn 14:15-17; 16:12, 13; 1 Cor 12:13). (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. Two, 320)
Bertrand Russell once said, “It is preoccupation with possession more than anything else that prevents man from living freely and nobly.” If the object of your life is a great getting–of prestige, wealth, power–you are the victim of an ever-increasing appetite which can never be satisfied. (Lloyd J. Ogilvie, The Communicator’s Commentary: Luke, 275)
No man in this world attains to freedom from any slavery except by entrance into some higher servitude. There is no such thing as an entirely free man conceivable. (Phillips Brooks; Perennials).
The doors of hell are locked on the inside. — C. S. Lewis
The formula is simple: when relativism holds sway long enough, everyone begins to do what is right in his own eyes without any regard for submission to truth. In this atmosphere, a society begins to break down. Virtually every structure in a free society depends on a measure of integrity–that is, submission to the truth. When the chaos of relativism reaches a certain point, the people will welcome any ruler who can bring some semblance of order and security. So a dictator steps forward and crushes the chaos with absolute control. Ironically relativism–the great lover of unfettered freedom–destroys freedom in the end. (John Piper, Think, 114)
It is in the midst of this great societal prosperity and a multitude of distractions that the Lord wants us to walk with a single mind toward His glory. Can we do it? Yes, but we may need to rid ourselves of our televisions, or at least fast from them for a month. If that is too much, deny it entrance into your mind for a week. The degree of difficulty in turning the television off is the measure of our bondage. If we cannot let it go, it is because we are its captive. (Francis Frangipane, The Days of His Presence, 122-3)
Passover began as a celebration of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and became the commemoration of Christ’s deliverance of all believers from the bondage of sin. To the early Christians Christ was the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7) who did for them what God had done in Egypt for the Israelites through the blood of the Passover lamb. (Samuele Bacchiocchi, God’s Festivals in Scripture and History, 32)
When we allow others’ perceptions of us (or even our perceptions of their perceptions!) To control how we live, we are enslaved. We become entrenched in the ways of this world and do not live as citizens of heaven, which is another kind of kingdom altogether. (Francis Chan, Forgotten God, 53-4)
C- Recognize your desperate need for redemption. (Rom chps 3-5; Eph 2:8-18; Col 1:19-20; 1 Jn 1:8-9)
In every home in Egypt–of Jews and Egyptians alike–someone would die under the wrath of justice. The only way for your family to escape was to put your faith in God’s sacrificial provision; namely, you had to slay a lamb and put the blood on the doors as a sign of your faith in God. In every home that night there would be either a dead child or a dead lamb. When justice came down, either it fell on your family or you took shelter under the substitute, under the blood of the lamb. If you did accept this shelter, then death passed over you and you were saved; that’s why it was called Passover. You were saved only on the basis of faith in a substitutionary sacrifice. (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 163-4)
The very seating arrangement bore the architecture of grace, because from left to right it was Judas, Jesus, and John, as evidenced by the private conversation going on between the three in verses 25-28. As they reclined, Jesus’ head was at Judas’ breast, and John’s head was at Jesus’ breast too. Jesus had given Judas the left-hand side, the place of honor. It appears that Jesus probably said something like “Judas, I want to have a talk with you. Sit at the place of honor to my left tonight.” (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. Two, 309)
Two things about the designation “lamb of God,” as applied to Jesus were most notable: He was declared to be the lamb of God and His sacrifice was for the world. All other lambs in the sacrificial system had been offered by men under the commandment of God; but as God had substituted His own provision, a Lamb, instead of Isaac who was under Abraham’s hand, so God in Jesus provided His own Lamb. All other sacrifices of a lamb had been limited to the nation or to the individual; but the sacrifice of Jesus was world-wide, embracing all humanity in its scope. He was to take away the sins of the world. The lamb was a worthy symbol of Jesus who in innocence patiently endured suffering as a substitute (Acts 8:32; 1 Pt 1:19). (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 860)
D- Remember the great lengths that God has gone to make you His own and free. (Jn 3:16; 10:10; Rom 5:8-10)
In the light of the larger storyline and the prophetic commentary, notable Jeremiah and Hosea, the love between the two human lovers points to the relationship between Yahweh and Israel at the beginning: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me, and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown” (Jer 2:2). Probably for this reason, later Jewish tradition required the reading of this text during Passover. (Stephen G. Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty, 207)
Worship Point: There is no way your worship will not be amazing and electrifying once you discover the realities behind Christ’s fulfillment of the shadows of that first Passover.
If you don’t see the absolute holiness of God, the magnitude of your debt, the categorical necessity of God’s just punishment of your sin, and therefore the utter hopelessness of your condition, then the knowledge of your pardon and deliverance will not be amazing and electrifying! — Tim Keller
“For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the author of their very good, that they should seek nothing beyond him—they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.” — John Calvin
If we set our desires on anything other than the true God, we will become like that thing. Desire that is focused on the right object–the one true God–enables and grows a human being. Desire set on the wrong thing corrupts and debases us.
If we worship money, in other words, we’ll become a greedy person.
If we worship sex, we’ll become a lustful person.
If we worship power, we’ll become a corrupt person.
If we worship accomplishment, we’ll become a restless, frantic person.
If we worship love and acceptance, we’ll become a slave to others.
If we worship external beauty, we’ll become shallow.
And worshiping anything other than the true God will make us something other than what he created us to be. (Pete Wilson, Empty Promises, 158)
To a Pharisee, the service of God was a bondage which he did not love but from which he could not escape without a loss too great to bear. God, as the Pharisees saw Him, was not a God easy to live with. So their daily religion became grim and hard, with no trace of true love in it.
It can be said about us, as humans, that we try to be like our God. If He is conceived to be stern and exacting and harsh, so will we be!
The blessed and inviting truth is that God is the most winsome of all beings, and in our worship of Him we should find unspeakable pleasure. (A. W. Tozer, Whatever Happened to Worship?, 28)
Gospel Application: The bad news is we cannot deliver or save ourselves. In fact, we enslave ourselves. (Prv 14:12; 16:25; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:9-21) The Good News is that Jesus came to deliver and save us (Lk 19:10). Look to Jesus. (Heb 12:1-2)
It is difficult to get self-sufficient people to see their need of Christ and come to him. Christianity is most often for those who are weak, ignorant, and often fail but who know their need, turn from sin, and trust Jesus, just as Peter did. (James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, 563)
I hear addicts talk about the shakes and panic attacks and the highs and lows of resisting their habit, and to some degree I understand them because I have had habits of my own, but no drug is so powerful as the drug of self. No rut in the mind is so deep as the one that says I am the world, the world belongs to me, all people are characters in my play. There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction. (Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz, 182)
The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self. — Albert Einstein
What we have received is a gift of grace, unearned in any way. We need to understand that man’s free will is free only in that God never compels anybody to sin. The sinner is not free to do either good or evil because his corrupt heart, formed by Satan’s dominion, always inclines him to sin. Man is enslaved by that heart, a bondage that can be broken only by God’s merciful intervention. (Email from Carole Jacobus 8/17/10)
Here the life of faith in future grace is pictured as a light burden and an easy yoke. Can it be both hard and easy?
Yes. Faith in future grace is intrinsically easy. What could be easier than trusting God to work of you (Isa 64:4), and take care of you (1 Pt 5:7), and give you all you need (Phil 4:19; Heb 13:6), and strengthen you for every challenge (Isa 41:10). In one sense, faith is the opposite of straining. It is ceasing from the effort to earn God’s approval or demonstrate your worth or merit. It is resting in the gracious promises of God to pursue us with goodness and mercy all our days. Faith is intrinsically easy.
But this ease of faith assumes that our hearts are humble enough to renounce all self-reliance and self-direction and self-exaltation. It assumes a heart that is spiritual enough to taste and delight in the beauty and worth of God. It assumes that the world and the devil have lost their power to lure us away from satisfaction in God. If these assumptions are not true, then living by faith in future grace will not be as easy as we might have thought, but will involve a lifetime of struggle.
It’s like the monkey with his hand caught in the jar. It would be easy for him to slip his hand out of the opening except that he has his fist clenched around a nut. If he loves the nut more than he loves freedom from the jar, then getting his hand out of the jar will be hard, even impossible (as Jesus said in Mk 10:27 about the young man who had his fist clenched around his wealth). But what could be easier than dropping a nut? The battle that Paul and Jesus are talking about is the battle to love the freedom of faith more than the nut of sin. (John Piper, Future Grace, 313)
When we act like Gary Grudge, we become the prisoner of the one we hate. Dr. S. I. McMillen, in his book, None of These Diseases, eloquently captures the fate of the grudge-holder:
The moment I start hating a man, I become his slave. I can’t enjoy my work anymore because he even controls my thoughts. My resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body and I become fatigued after only a few hours of work. The work I formerly enjoyed is now drudgery. Even vacations cease to give me pleasure. It may be a luxurious car that I drive along a lake fringed with the autumnal beauty of maple, oak and birch. As far as my experience of pleasure is concerned, I might as well be driving a wagon in mud and rain.
The man I hate hounds me wherever I go, I can’t escape his tyrannical grasp on my mind. When the waiter serves me porterhouse steak with French fries, asparagus, crisp salad, and strawberry shortcake smothered with ice cream, it might as well be stale bread and water. My teeth chew the food and I swallow it, but the man I hate will not permit me to enjoy it. . .
The man I hate may be many miles from my bedroom; but more cruel than any slave driver, he whips my thoughts into such a frenzy that my innerspring mattress becomes a rack of torture. (Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 273-4)
The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.— Herbert S. Agar
“If what you love to do is what you ought to do then you will be free.” (John Piper at message given at College Baptist Church Hillsdale MI October 13, 2005)
“If you long to be cut free from the world, if you long to be free to love and to do what you ought to do then give yourself to the renewing of your mind.” (John Piper at message given at College Baptist Church Hillsdale MI October 13, 2005)
“Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired, but by controlling the desire.” — Epictetus
A man’s worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes. (Thomas Huxley, “Address on University Education,” Collected Essays, 1902, III, 236)
Spiritual Challenge: If you know the Truth, the Truth will set you free. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Know Jesus who is Truth and be free! (Jn 8:31-36; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 5:1)
“Wherever the Biblical world view has prevailed, there has been freedom. Where it has been taken away, freedom has been lost.” (Chuck Colson Session 6: What Do I Do Now? – Segment 2: Wide Angle)
The historian Will Durant observed that it is customs which keep men sane. As he put it: “Without grooves along which our minds can move with unconscious ease, we become perpetually hesitant and gripped with insecurity.” Just as railroad tracks may restrict a train’s freedom to move about, but without them the train would go nowhere. Neither is man truly free to live in this world without the restrictions that God has placed upon him. The very constraints which confine man set him free to be what he was created to be. If a train tried to leave its tracks and take off across the countryside it would quickly become mired and unable to function. Since man decided to jump his “tracks,” he has become increasingly mired in instability. (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 39)
Our pleasure and our duty, though opposite before,
Since we have seen His beauty, are joined to part no more
To see the Law by Christ fulfilled, and hear His pardon voice,
Transforms a slave into a child and duty into choice. — John Newton
If the truth about my salvation lies in the realm of my feelings, my digestive system, my nervous organism, I am going to be a poor Christian; because that will be changing from day to day according to the weather or to something else. Oh no! Truth; where is the truth? “Not what I am, but what Thou art,” That is where the truth is, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Free from what? Bondage! What bondage? Satan clapping his chains of condemnation upon you because today you are not feeling up to scratch. You are feeling bad in your constitution, and you are feeling depressed, you are feeling death all around, you are feeling irritable, and Satan comes along and says, You are not a Christian! A fine Christian you are! And you go down under it. Is that the truth? It is a lie! The only answer for deliverance and emancipation is, “it is not what I am, it is what He is; Christ abides the same.” He is not as I am, varying here in this human life from hour to hour and day to day: He is other. (T. Austin-Sparks; The School of Christ, 25)
Pursuing what we want is possible. It is easy. It is a pleasant kind of freedom. But the only freedom that lasts is pursuing what we want when we want what we ought. And it is devastating to discover we don’t, and we can’t. (John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God, 14)
We are already beginning to see tasters of that in British society where, in the name of tolerance and diversity, biblical Christianity is increasingly not tolerated, nor allowed to be part of the ‘diverse’ community that people say they want. On the other hand, in cultures where biblical Christianity has thrived there is greater freedom for a diversity of views. I find it ironic that the anti-religious Christopher Hitchens preferred to move to one of the most religious countries in the world, the U.S.A., rather than stay in an increasingly secularized Western Europe. As his brother Peter pointed out, the worst place to be an atheist is in an atheist country; the best place is in a Christian country. Know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (David Robertson, Magnificent Obsession–Why Jesus Is Great, 160)
The way in which the Christian worldview assures liberty was expressed well by the historian Lord Acton, who wrote: “Liberty…is itself the highest political end.” He later said, “No country can be free without religion. It creates and strengthens the notion of duty. If men are not kept straight by duty, they must be by fear. The more they are kept by fear, the less they are free. The greater the strength of duty, the greater the liberty.” (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 328)
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. (Joni Eareckson Tada; When Is It Right To Die?, 83)
Mill wrote, “Liberty consists in doing what one desires.” (Robert H. Bork; Slouching Towards Gomorrah, 64)
The only liberty I mean is a liberty connected with order; that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them. (Edmund Burke as quoted by Robert H. Bork; Slouching Towards Gomorrah, 64)
So What?: So what! Are you kidding? In a world in which everyone is becoming more and more enslaved to money, health, status, culture and their own pride; think about what a person could do if they were free from these vices. Think about what they could be.
If ever there is a genuine paradox to be found in Holy Writ, it is at the point of freedom and bondage. The paradox is this: When one seeks to rebel from God, he gains only bondage. When he becomes a slave to God, he becomes free. Liberty is found in obedience. The Anglican poet John Donne understood this when he wrote in in a sonnet, Except You enthrall me, never shall I be free. (R.C. Sproul, If There’s a God, Why Are There Atheists?, 142)
On the tombstone of Martin Luther King Jr. “Free at Last, Free at last. Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.”
Let me tell you how to get a bad self-image: Believe something about yourself that isn’t true. You don’t get a good self-image by saying to yourself, “I’m a wonderful person.” You aren’t, and that is the worst form of denial.
You say, “I’m really together?” No, you aren’t, and that is the worst form of denial.
You say, “I deserve everything I have?” No, you don’t, and that is the worst from of denial.
You don’t get a good self-image by denying the truth about yourself. A good self-image comes from facing the truth and knowing that, because God accepts you and the whole truth about who you are, you can too. (Steve Brown, Born Free, 153)