Easter

“Do this in remembrance” Exodus 12 & Luke 22

Until today I was unaware of what Maundy Thursday is. It is a celebration of the command to “love each other” given at the Last Supper.* “Maundy” originates from the latin for “command.” I know the Israelites were commanded to remember the night that the angel of death “passed over” them. I know that Jesus told his disciples to remember him when they partake in Communion. I have not contemplated until today what overlap there might be between the Old Covenant Passover and the New Covenant Communion.

Unconsciously, I have always conceptualized the Last Supper as different from the Passover, though of course the Last Supper was a Passover meal. I want to lay down, real quick, a short list of similarities between to the two. In fact, let me jump to my conclusion— Jesus completed the Passover requirement and then doubled down on it at the Last Supper; which I would say is pretty consistent with everything that Jesus did whilst on Earth.

Exodus 12 gives a detailed picture as to how the Israelites were to celebrate the Passover, why they were to celebrate the Passover, and who could celebrate the Passover. Luke 22 gives us the same details about Communion according to Jesus’ instructions at the Last Supper, or First Supper if you will.

So let’s look at this without too much fuss:

How to celebrate: Celebrate with a special meal containing symbolic components.

Why to celebrate: Celebrate to remember the work of God’s salvation.

Who can celebrate: Only God’s people can celebrate this meal.

The third point caught me a bit off guard at first. I didn’t realize that Passover was only for the “native-born Israelites” or people who had effectively converted by being circumcised (Exodus 12:43-49.) “No outsiders are allowed to eat the Passover meal,” Exodus 12:43. I feel that that point is specifically important in regard to the Last Supper.

The Maundy command “to love one another” is a command for Christians to love each other. It’s not a command for Christians to love the lost soul. It is not a command for all people to love one another. When Christians participate in Communion or when they celebrate the Last Supper they are to remember that God cares about how people in the church treat each other.

The people we go to church with can be pretty irritating. Some are over-religious. Some are too cool being obnoxiously proud of their record collection and slight drinking habit. Some are theology snobs, some are bible trivia nerds. Some volunteer for everything, others do Sunday service in a dine-and-dash fashion. Some are nosy, some are aloof. And most are self-righteously concerned about whether the people they go to church with are “really saved.” Cause, you know, if they were “really saved,” their kid wouldn’t act like that, they wouldn’t dress like that, you wouldn’t see them at the kind of places you see them at, they wouldn’t keep people’s Tupperware dishes, they’d RSVP on time, their husband wouldn’t have left like that…

Well, Jesus laid to rest the “really saved” topic at the Last Supper. Passover is celebrated to remember God’s salvation in the past from slavery and the tradition is continued forward in the hope of continued salvation. Passover celebrates an unfinished work, which is best illustrated by the Jewish custom of setting a place for Elijah at the Passover seder. When Jesus took the unleavened bread, symbolic of sinlessness, and the cup of wine, symbolic of the lamb’s blood used on the door posts by the Hebrews as a sign to the angel of death that he should pass over that house, and he said about the bread and wine “these are me,” he was saying, “it is finished.” That ongoing hope of salvation commemorated in Passover was complete. Salvation is no longer an on-going quest, but a mission fulfilled.

But, like I said, Jesus tends to double down. So with the fore-shadowing purpose of Passover completed, what was it that the Last Supper was to symbolize carrying forward? It is no longer a hope of salvation, but a reminder that Jesus has established a Kingdom for those who are saved. That Kingdom is one of love defined by servanthood, a Kingdom of thrones seated upon by the lowliest members of mankind.

Jesus famously washed his disciples feet during the Last Supper according to the Gospel of John. Peter objected to Jesus’ act of humility. But Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Jesus also said “since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.”

Belonging to Jesus requires no on-going pursuits of salvation, but an on-going pursuit of humility. The perfect opportunity to do that is amongst our annoying brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no satisfaction in serving the saved. I feel way better about myself when I evangelize or give away spare change. Loving people “who should know better” is harder. Paul says that Christians should give up all their rights for each other. We remember the Kingdom and how the Kingdom operates, when we love one another.

Perhaps the next time the gold trays with tiny cups and puffy square crackers is laid out, our reflection might center less on our “personal door-posts” and our need for the salvation in the Passover blood. Rather, remember the level of lowliness that Christ expects of us, and the tender regard for our brothers and sisters He expects us to have, as the requirement of being categorized as His own.

*”The Other Holy Day,” Christianity Today

Easter, Kid's Bible Lessons

“He isn’t here!” Mark 16:6

At Golgotha, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He became sin for us, was rejected by his Father, and was the legal satisfaction of justice due on our behalf. This is what Jesus did when he died on Good Friday.

Three days later, he did something even more wonderful for us. We talk less often, and less dramatically, about what Jesus did in the garden. In the garden, Jesus was buried in a tomb. On Easter Sunday, he came back to life and broke through the grave that he was interned in.

Jesus was buried with our sins, but rose back to life without them. He left our sins behind in the tomb. We are told that Jesus broke the law of sin and death. When he defied death, he also played the ultimate trick on sin— sin can’t rise again. Baptism is described by the Apostle Paul as a symbol of going down with our sins into a watery grave as Jesus did, and being brought back up in a sinless life as Jesus was.

I have been hit so hard recently by the phrase “hidden with Christ” (Colossians 3:3.) Why am I completely absolved of all guilt? Because the guilty Natalie is hidden in the tomb of Christ. What does this mean for me? It means that no one can accuse me of my sin, because that sin is sealed away. It got left behind in the garden.

On Easter, the angel told the women who came looking for the body of Jesus, “He isn’t here!” And I get to say that same thing. When the Accuser tries to condemn me. When the naysayer tries to discourage me. When my own heart begins to fail, I can shout, “She isn’t here!” The me that was a slave to sin is not here! I have risen in Christ’s resurrection, and my sin is trapped in a borrowed tomb.

Satan, the Accuser, heaps our sins back at our feet. When he does, you can say with confidence— “She is not here; that one is not me!”

Satan had his one revelry day. He had his one day to tear Jesus down. On the cross, Satan got his enjoyment in accusing God Himself. But, Satan, does not get to accuse you!! Because he got his three hours, his one short day to accuse Jesus, he does not have any claim on accusing you or I. He can’t have it both ways! Satan got to taunt and torment and defile the character of Jesus the day of Jesus’ death. The cross cost the devil every ounce of license to do that to me. He wanted to shame God, it’s all he’s ever wanted; and God let him do it!– in exchange for never, ever being allowed to put shame on me. 

When the weight of your sins make you think of Christ’s death, don’t mourn there forever, because Jesus gathered up your guilt at Golgotha and buried it permanently in the garden.

“When your heart condemns you, fear not for God is greater than your heart,” 1 John 3:20. 

* This was how we started explaining Easter to our daughter. I kinda love it. With a craft paper box and a million stickers, we decorated “a garden box.” I read to her from a kid’s “say and pray” bible with a cute illustration of the garden and an angel chillin’ out on top of Jesus’ tomb. We talked about how we are decorating these beautiful garden boxes remembering how wonderful it is that our sins are locked away forever in Jesus’ tomb and that we live free with Him.

Clementine is only 2 yrs old now, but I am thinking as she gets older, we can add a time of reflection and personal confession to this craft, and maybe write down some things that have been bothering her (and us) on Good Friday, put them in the box for the weekend, and then on Easter Sunday praise God that there is nothing that can separate us from God or diminish the complete work that Christ did for us on the cross.