The Passover is Our Lord's Supper
Passover and The Lord’s Supper?
Passover and The Lord’s Supper?
Sometimes we forget that not everyone sitting here grew up attending church. When you grow up in church and go to Sunday School you end up learning all these stories in the Bible. A lot of these stories then get neglected as we get older. For that reason I want to tell you the story of the Passover today. Well that and I just had to write a research paper on Passover so it’s all fresh in my mind. Well that and Pastor Mark is on vacation and we normally would shift the Lord’s supper to the next Sunday but we realized as Elders we should probably all rotate through overseeing the Lord’s supper for our congregation and things fell into place this Sunday to do just that. We are also going to learn what Passover means for us as we observe the Lord’s Supper. First things first, story-time.
We start our story in Egypt thousands of years ago. At one time the Israelites were welcome in Egypt when Joseph made himself invaluable for keeping the country from crumbling under famine. Right at the beginning of Exodus it tells us Exo 1.7-8 “But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”
He didn’t know how Joseph’s wisdom from God saved Egypt. Instead what he sees is this flourishing people group that is different and sees them as dangerous. They must be oppressed and not allowed to become a threat! The people of Israel are treated worse and worse until finally after given harsh labor made into slaves yet still prospering and multiplying Pharoah has had enough. Instructions go out for all the male children to be murdered at birth. The Hebrew midwives feared God more than Pharoah so they didn’t do that and lied to Pharoah about it. Now an Israelite man descended from Levi had a son. The mother hid the son for three months before hiding him would no longer be an option. At that point she made an ark. Yes… an ark… I know most of your English translations don’t say that but it is in fact the same word ark just like Noah was told to build. This ark along with the baby is placed by the river. The Pharaoh's daughter happens to find the baby and takes pity on him, he’s crying, and in a God ordained turn of events the child’s mother get’s hired to become his nurse maid. His name is Moses. Moses is adopted by the Pharaoh's daughter. After moses grows up he is out walking among his people and sees one of them being abused by and Egyptian. Looking around and not seeing anyone he kills that man and hides his body in the sand. The next day he sees two of the Hebrews fighting and stops them asking why they’re fighting each other? They indignantly say “Who put you in charge? Are you gonna kill us like you killed that Egyptian?” This freaked Moses out. He was thinking to himself, “Nobody’s gonna know | They’re gonna know | How would they know | They’re gonna know” And he flees to the wilderness. In fact Pharoah did find out and did want to kill Moses for it. Moses spends 40 years outside of Egypt. He gets married has a kid… Well Pharoah dies and a new Pharoah arises.
Then the people of Israel cry out for rescue to God because they are still oppressed and enslaved. God hears them and remembers his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. Now Moses is still out in the wilderness but he is out with his flock when he comes across this bewildering sight. A bush is burning but not burning up. He approaches it to see what’s going on. God calls to him from the bush “Moses, Moses” “Here I am” he replies. God tells him not to come any closer without taking off his sandals because the place where God is, is holy ground. God tells him that He’s the God of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses covers his face because he’s afraid to look at God. God details how he’s aware of the affliction and suffering of His people and that He’s come to set them free. He’s going to send Moses in fact to deal with Pharoah. Now this is not going to thrill Moses. He’s already tried to save the Israelites remember? He killed that Egyptian… How’d that turn out? Well Moses comes up with a lot of excuses but God ain’t puttin’ up with it. God does eventually allow his brother Aaron to step in and for him as a mediator to the people. He sets up a few miracles Moses can use to convince people he’s been sent by God. Moses finally returns to Egypt. Things do not go as well as Moses probably hoped but they do happen exactly as God planned.
Moses asks for his people to be able to go to the wilderness so they can sacrifice to God. Pharoah tells them they’re distracting the people from their work. Then Pharoah makes conditions worse for the Israelites. The Israelites complain to Pharoah and Moses about getting the short end of the stick. God replies to Moses’ concerns that everything has only gotten worse and assures him that Pharaoh will be dealt with and he will even send out the Israelites from the land. Moses goes before Pharaoh and they had been told by God when Pharoah challenged them to prove they were sent by God with a miracle the staff gets thrown down and becomes a serpent. Now Pharaoh's magicians are able to duplicate the same feat but their snakes were eaten by God’s snake. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened though and did not listen, just as God said.
1) God sends Moses and Aaron back to Pharoah in the morning and has them strike with water of the Nile with the staff. This is the first Plague. It turns the Nile into blood, fish die, the smell is atrocious.
2) Seven days later God sends Moses back to say “Let my people go.” There is also a warning with this one that if Pharaoh doesn’t a plague of frogs will come. The people aren’t let go and frogs are called up. Pharaoh's magicians also are able to duplicate this plague… which seems a little dumb because they already have too many frogs. Pharaoh asks for moses to ask God to stop and he’ll let the people go. Moses asked for God to stop the frogs. Once the frogs were dealt with though… Pharaoh hardens his heart and won’t let the people go.
3) So with no prior warning the staff is stretched over the dust of the earth and gnats or you might call them lice cover everything. The Pharaoh’s magicians try to duplicate this but they can’t. They even declare this is the finger of God!. But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he wouldn’t listen.
4) God sends Moses early in the morning to Pharaoh and says “let my people go.” and tells him this time if he doesn’t, God’s sending flies except in Goshen where the Israelites live… The Lord did bring the flies in and Pharaoh says to Moses they can sacrifice but not go… Moses explains that they need to go… Pharaoh says okay… just don’t go too far. Moses petitions God again to remove the flies. This time again Pharaoh hardens his heart and does not let the people go.
5) Moses again is sent before Pharaoh saying “Let my people go” and again he threatens, this time if Pharaoh does not release them their herds will die off, but not the Hebrews theirs will live. And the next day the Lord did it and the livestock of Egypt died but none of the livestock of the people of Israel died.
6) The Lord instructs Moses and Aaron to take soot and throw it in the air within the site of Pharaoh. Boils broke out among all the Egyptians and even the magicians of Pharaoh couldn’t stand before Moses because of all the boils. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and so he didn’t listen to them just as the Lord told Moses he wouldn’t.
7) Moses is again told to go early in the morning to Pharaoh and tell him to “Let my people go.” This time it will be hail and you’re warned don’t be caught outside, or your livestock because the hail will be so bad that anyone outside will die. There’s also a note here from God. He says “Hey, I could have easily just killed off all the Egyptians with a plague but I didn’t. I am doing this because the purpose here is to show my power and so that my name will be told all over the world.” So the hail comes and anyone caught outside is killed, man or animal. All the crops are flattened even the trees in the field are knocked down. That’s a serious hail storm. Pharaoh responds now and tells Moses he’s really done it he’s sinned and the Lord is right. He asks for the hail to stop and Moses tells him he’ll stop it but he knows that Pharaoh doesn’t fear God. Sure enough when the rain and the hail cease Pharaoh sins again and hardens his heart against God and did not let the people go, just like the Lord told Moses.
8) This time Moses goes to Pharaoh and tells him there will be locust that devour everything if you do not let my people go. Pharaoh, despite his advisors pleading to just let these people go the land has already been ruined don’t make it worse! Pharaoh wants to negotiate like only let the men go. This being unacceptable Moses and Aaron were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence. So Moses stretches out his hands like God commands and locusts descend devouring everything in the land. Nothing green was left. Exo 10.16-17 “Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”” Moses interceded and the Locusts were removed but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he didn’t let the people go.
9) God tells Moses to stretch out his hand toward heaven for there to be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that is felt. This was no ordinary turn the lights off darkness. This was oppressive thick darkness but it didn’t happen in the land where the people of Israel were. Pharaoh called for Moses and this time he said you can go serve the Lord and even take the women and children but you have to leave all the livestock. Moses tells him this is not acceptable they’ll take everything when they go to serve the Lord. Pharaoh gets upset and says “fine moses” If I ever see you again you’re a dead man! Moses responds with an okay bud, you won’t see my face again.
10) Now the final plague is upon Egypt, it’s one the Israelites need to prep for. Moses needs to go to the people. He tells all the Elders of Israel so they can go out and instruct the people. Exo 12:21-28
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ ” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
So at midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from Pharaoh’s house to the firstborn of even the captive in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Pharaoh calls up Moses and sends them away, everyone, even the livestock. So the people of Israel make a hasty retreat, but they ask the Egyptians for jewelry and clothes on their way and in doing so they plundered Egypt just like the Lord said they would do back in Gen 15:14 and Exo 3:21.
They will remember their freedom from Egypt with the Passover and their departure with the Feast of Unleavened bread. The unleavened bread because they had no time they had to leave in haste so there was no leaven, or yeast, in the cakes they made.
The Passover is celebrated many times in the Bible. The Passover shifts from being something that you do at home and over to a corporate event at the tabernacle and later the temple. After the second temple is destroyed the festival went back to being in the home. Well we see Jesus participate in Passover in the NT, we shouldn’t be surprised he fulfilled the law, but in Luke 22.1 we see
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover. And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.
The changes in Passover have happened in the Bible and outside the Bible. The traditions aren’t necessarily bad It’s the heart that matters. We see Jesus follow one of the traditions that is done even to this day in Judaism. It’s not required to recline and eat for the whole meal but for the wine and unleavened bread it is required. This symbolizes the freedom from Egypt to sit like royalty or a wealthy person might. On Passover the children of Israel are entitled to conduct themselves like royalty.
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Here we see that Jesus’ Passover meal is what became our Lord’s Supper celebration.
Now we need to tie everything together. The world and sin is like Egypt. It’s taken all of us as slaves. We don’t have freedom we’re slaves to sin and death. Then one came to set us free but we could not get free without a price. The price of that Passover lamb. Not only does the lamb need to die but it’s blood needs to cover us from the wrath of God that would otherwise righteously destroy us too. Jesus as the perfect man, God in the flesh, was able to be our Passover lamb. He set us free and we run into that freedom without hesitation. We go with no time to let the bread rise. Like the Israelites and their unleavened bread we take that same unleavened bread but with even deeper meaning. Knowing it first represented the hasty departure from Egypt but for us it means the immediate dash into the arms of God who saved us. It is, as Christ says, his body that we eat and his blood we drink.
Further Paul in 1 Cor 11:26-29 tells us
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
We haven’t come to a conclusion as a church on how strict or lax we’re going to be around the Lord’s Supper. I think we’ve agreed that we don’t want to police it and that it’s a decision you need to make personally. We would say if you are not a believer do not participate. If you are a believer examine yourself and make sure you aren’t in strife with anyone get that settled before you eat and drink the body and blood of Christ. Do take communion intentionally by being aware of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The Baptist Faith and Message talks about Baptism by Immersion as a pre-requisite to church membership but also for the Lord’s Supper. Only one of my boys has been baptized and He’s the only one that participates in the Lord’s supper. I’ve told my children when they’re baptized as believers they can participate in this part of our service. That’s just the tradition I grew up with as a Southern Baptist. It’s perfectly fine if you decline to take communion. Do not feel pressured to participate. I’m going to ask Jerry and Dr. Morse to come up and we’re going to bless the bread and the drink for our Lord’s supper.