Feast of Remembrance
Imagine with me, if you will, this scene. The table is set – perhaps with finest china and silverware placed in decorative array. The smell of roasted meat and warm bread fills the room. Much preparation has been made before close family and friends come to recline at the table, anticipating the special meal to be served – their hearts filled with gratitude. Sound familiar? Perhaps, you’re reminded of what many of us celebrate every Autumn season – Thanksgiving dinner. However, this opening scene, though bereft of more indicative detail, describes a meal that gained its significance far before our typical ‘Thanksgiving holiday dinner’ made its mark. This scene describes the Jewish Passover feast.
Though celebrated annually in remembrance of Israel’s historical deliverance from Egypt by the mighty hand of God, there is one particular feast night that shed new light on this old tradition – the night in which Jesus was betrayed.
As tradition would have it, the disciples had “made ready the passover” (Matthew 26:19). Now, the time was come to partake of the meal. “And as they were eating” (Matthew 26:26a), Jesus Himself narrates the significance of each item; He speaks of the unleavened bread as “[His] body”, followed by the wine – His blood, shed “for the remission of sins”, concluding with a blessing (Matthew 26:26-28), but, makes no reference to the lamb. Each Passover meal featured a roasted lamb – a symbol of the whole, unblemished sacrifice offered earlier in the Temple in Jerusalem. This was to commemorate the first Passover in Egypt, when the angel of death ‘passed over’ the houses of the Israelites whose doorposts were marked with the blood of the lamb, before families partook of it for the evening meal. Jesus’ narration, no doubt, implied He Himself would be that perfect Passover Lamb, instituting a new feast of remembrance to come.
Sure enough, Jesus would be “led as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7) being betrayed, arrested, and put on trial. This trial was as twisted as the crown of thorns placed upon Christ’s head; the Jewish mob jumped from one dictate to another – from their religious law to Roman law, pulling at straws to have Jesus crucified — a form of capital punishment Jews had no authority to sanction at this time.
In fact, no other time in history was this Jewish authority revoked except for now (by the Romans), when the Lawgiver Himself was standing right in front of them! Coincidence? Not by a long shot – God had His divine hand upon it from the get-go! Read back to Jacob’s blessing upon Judah: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [Messiah] come, and unto Him the people shall adhere“ (Genesis 49:10). This is a prophetic reference to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah. “Judah lost its ability to adjudicate capital cases and enforce the law during the first quarter of the first century A.D.”#, when Jesus Himself had entered the earthly scene, and was growing up like a tender reed in Nazareth. Little did the Jews know this One they had stripped, deemed powerless, and desired to put to death, had Himself stripped them of power, holding life and death in His own hands!
Manifested as the Lamb of God during His first coming, Scripture assures us Christ’s iron sceptre shall be revealed in full force at His second coming: “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15).
What a contrast from the Sacrificial Passover Lamb to the fierce Lion of Judah! Yet, for those of us who have applied the blood of Christ, our Passover Lamb, to the doorposts of our hearts, we are, mercifully, spared the wrath of God’s judgment, and will joyfully shout with the voices of heaven, “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God” (Revelation 19:1).
We don’t have to wait for heaven to declare this; we do it now, in remembrance of Him, proclaiming Christ’s death till He come. May the plain symbols of the bread and wine cause us to feast our eyes on Him who delivered us from the wrath to come!
Sweet feast of love divine!
’Tis grace that makes us free
To feed upon this bread and wine,
In memory, Lord, of Thee.
O if this glimpse of love
Is so divinely sweet,
What will it be, O Lord, above,
Thy gladdening smile to meet!