EXODUS 24:3-11/1 CORINTHIANS 10:16-17/MARK 14:12-26
THE PASSOVER LAMB – DEALS WITH DEATH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

At Jesus’ command the disciples said to the man bearing water, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’

PASSOVER!
The first of the major Jewish festivals mentioned in the Bible.  In the last of the plagues God brought against Pharaoh the Egyptian firstborn were slain.  An earlier Pharaoh had ordered the death of all newborn sons of Israel.  Remember Moses’ infant body set afloat on the basket in the water.  Now God brought death to a different oppressive Pharaoh and to the people he ruled.  Family after family awoke to the death of their oldest child.  There was not a house where someone was not dead (Exodus 12:30).

PASSOVER!  No house escaped death - except of course those houses that the destroyer passed over.  By God’s promise those were the bloody houses – houses with door posts and lintels stained with the blood of the lambs that were slain.  Life for God’s people came from the death of the lamb and the safety provided by its blood.  Then the people were to eat this very life-protecting lamb.  These were the two fundamental actions of Passover – the death of the lamb and eating the lamb.  This act of great deliverance from bondage to Pharaoh pointed forward to a far greater deliverance for the entire world.

 

EXODUS 24:3-11/1 CORINTHIANS 10:16-17/MARK 14:12-26
THE PASSOVER LAMB – DEALS WITH DEATH!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

At Jesus’ command the disciples said to the man bearing water, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’

PASSOVER!
The first of the major Jewish festivals mentioned in the Bible.  In the last of the plagues God brought against Pharaoh the Egyptian firstborn were slain.  An earlier Pharaoh had ordered the death of all newborn sons of Israel.  Remember Moses’ infant body set afloat on the basket in the water.  Now God brought death to a different oppressive Pharaoh and to the people he ruled.  Family after family awoke to the death of their oldest child.  There was not a house where someone was not dead (Exodus 12:30).

PASSOVER!  No house escaped death - except of course those houses that the destroyer passed over.  By God’s promise those were the bloody houses – houses with door posts and lintels stained with the blood of the lambs that were slain.  Life for God’s people came from the death of the lamb and the safety provided by its blood.  Then the people were to eat this very life-protecting lamb.  These were the two fundamental actions of Passover – the death of the lamb and eating the lamb.  This act of great deliverance from bondage to Pharaoh pointed forward to a far greater deliverance for the entire world.

PASSOVER!  As the faithful gathered in Jerusalem for this feast each year, they retold God’s saving act in Egypt when the Lord passed over the houses marked with blood.  Each new generation was the beneficiary of His mighty redemption in the past that also looked forward to the coming of the Messiah in the future.  That brings us to the Thursday of Holy Week when Jesus commanded His disciples to say to the man bearing water - ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’

PASSOVER! 
Some of what took place in that Upper Room was common to thousands of Passover meals.  There was to be bitter herbs signifying the bitter lot of enslavement.  There was to be the proper dress indicating readiness for hasty departure.  There were cups of wine and unleavened bread.  There was the lamb to be eaten.

At this Passover, however, something new happened that had never happened before.  Jesus said of the bread, “Take eat, this is My body.”  He also said of the wine, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many”  

Do you realize how much blood flowed during the Passover celebration of Holy Week?  Estimates of the lambs killed in the temple during that Passover at Jesus’ time range from 16,000 to 18,000.  First century sources describe a bucket brigade of priests who transferred blood from the place of sacrifice to throw it at the foot of the altar for the burnt offering.  The amount of blood was said to cover the ankles of the priests.  From time to time they would have to wash the Court of the Women because of the volume of blood accumulating there.  

PASSOVER!
  With it came blood, blood, blood.  Under the Old Covenant – blood is considered one with life.  In the sacrifices that God commanded blood was thrown against the altar - as also Moses did (Exodus 24).  As we read, Moses also took some of the blood and threw it on the people.  But drinking blood was forbidden – it was unthinkable.  

On Holy Thursday, however, Jesus took over the Passover.  Nothing here is accidental!  Binding this meal to His death now at hand, Jesus transformed it.  It was His meal, His action, His gift of His body and His blood!   This holy mystery moved forward according to His words.
 
He knew that His sacrifice was just hours away.  While the disciples are slow on the uptake of the world-changing event now at hand the Son of God moves forward lovingly, deliberately, faithfully, to fulfill God’s plan of salvation.  

PASSOVER! 
In the solemn setting of this meal of rescue from bitter slavery and death Jesus instituted a new meal of rescue from slavery to sin and death.  .While He is still living, the Lamb of God offers for food the very redemption price He will hand over for the sins of the world in death the following day.  The gift of this feast of forgiveness is by God’s set foreknowledge and plan.  In the Upper Room the holy Son of God spoke into being a new covenant, a new testament.  

It is His final act in the presence of the twelve.  Nothing occupies a higher position as He prepares to step out into the night.  He will pray alone in the garden while Peter, James and John nod off in slumber.  But this is His parting communal gift to those he taught for three years.  

PASSOVER!  Its fundamental acts included killing the lamb and eating the lamb.  Fundamental acts in the new feast that Jesus instituted are His sacrificial death and the Supper He gave with the command to “keep on doing this.”  In Holy Communion Jesus gives us to eat and drink of what He used to purchase our forgiveness and salvation – His true body and His true blood.

Through His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand Jesus’ Supper reaches from the night He first gave it to the day of His return to judge the world.  The forgiving and life-giving and saving benefits of this miracle reach right into our midst today (this evening) in this service.  This Lamb’s blood is not daubed on the outside of our doorposts.  This Lamb’s blood is received under the very roof of our mouths.

The Holy Spirit caused St. Paul to write of this gift, The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  The Greek word translated as “participation” is koinonia.  It denotes the closest and deepest communion possible between God and man.  It designates a fellowship that is not of human origin.

Koinonia indicates a spiritual union that is created by the content of the cup and the bread.  Those who drink the cup partake directly and orally of the Lord’s shed blood.  Those who eat the bread partake directly and orally of the Lord’s crucified and glorified body.  The truth is that God comes closer to you in this life at His Altar – in the cup and in the bread than anywhere else.  Her He joins Himself to you.  

Like the participants of the Passover celebrations were to have their loins girded and their staffs in their hand – ready to depart, so this food keeps you in readiness – prepared to depart this life.  Why?  Because Christ our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Corinthians 5:7) and because Christ our Passover Lamb gives us His very body to eat and His very blood to drink!  This is the medicine of immortality.

Think back once again to that first Passover!  Sometimes we might think that the most wonderful thing we could have here is to have death pass over or skip over us indefinitely.  In one sense – that is understandable – for death makes no sense – it is any ugly enemy.  But in the deepest sense – in this sinful, dying world, it is not true.  That is why God barred Adam and Eve from the tree of life.  

Think of living endlessly on this cursed world in your body and mind affected by sin.  Think of the thoughts that sometimes afflict you – the worries – the grudges – the fears – the lusts – the guilt - and the weakness that your body faces.  Think of this going on and on as those around you are called from this life.  Think of the cumulative effects of living in this cursed world for a century and then a decade beyond a century and then another.  No, no, no, the treasure is not a longer and longer and life in this valley of sorrow.  The treasure is to be with Christ who is our life and which is better by far.

That is why God has planted a new tree of life on this earth.  C. F. W. Walther (A century and a half ago) identified the Lord’s Supper as the new tree of life planted in His kingdom of grace.  This food of course is not magic – but it is miraculous heavenly food – forgiveness food.  Indeed as Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.”   

The risen Christ can come no closer to you in this life than He does in the holy meal He serves you here.  As life for God’s people in the first Passover came from the death of the lamb and the safety provided by its blood – so it is for you in this house of worship today.  Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord had made with you in accordance with His words.

In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

 

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a