the hour came he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.
said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before
tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it
tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until
the kingdom of God comes.”
he took a loaf of 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.”
he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is
poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.
the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by
whom he is betrayed!”
they began to ask one another, which one of them it could be who would do
CHRIST’S LAST PASSOVER
To-day, as on each Palm
Sunday, we took our faith openly to our streets: we waved our palms, just
as the people in long-ago Jerusalem tore the branches from the trees and
waved them and threw them down to make soft the path that Christ’s colt
was treading as they cried out their welcome. To-day we have sung out our
praise in the words of King David as we rejoice in the day that the Lord
has given us and we entered into this place of worship thanking Jesus for
we Christians, particularly Anglicans, are rather shy about such open
proclamations of our faith: it does tend to be a once-a-year event . . .
once-a-year we venture forth from our church, feeling rather sheepish, a
bit anxious that no one we know walks by and asks what we are about. We
parade to the corner, offer up a prayer, and then scuttle back to the safe
confines of our church, singing the ever quickening King of Kings.
that is how we largely live our faith. Comfortable in our own pew,
surrounded by others who share that same faith. And it is largely in
these pews that we confine our faith.
Christ gave us a special gift to strengthen us both within and beyond
these walls. A special gift that is His covenant, His promise to us of
eternal life and salvation.
Christ taught his followers, he was preparing them not for the safe and
familiar but for the challenge of the unknown. Just as He knew the
journey he was making toward the cross, so too He knew the road ahead for
those who would follow Him: the pitfalls and the triumphs and the
to equip us for our lives as Christians, before Christ died, He gave us a
daily reminder of all that we have been given.
happened at what has become known as the “Last Supper”.
Christ was gathered together with his family and friends and followers at
a home in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.
the Passover is, and was, a celebration of God saving His people. The
Israelis had been slaves under the Egyptian pharaohs and God freed them
and led them out of that land and into the promised land of milk and
honey. So Passover is a time of looking back at the greatness of God and
his fidelity to his people.
the Passover dinner is a time when the old stories are retold by the most
senior member of the family, so that all will remember and be grateful.
the dinner, a child asks the question “Why is this night different from
all other nights . . . “ and the answer begins with an explanation of why
special foods are eaten at that meal.
eat only MATZOH because our ancestors could not wait for their breads to
rise when they were fleeing slavery in Egypt and so they took the breads
out of their ovens while they were still flat, which was MATZOH”.
eat only MORORS, the bitter herbs such as horseradish or Romaine lettuce,
to remind us of the bitterness of slavery that our ancestors endured while
we dip the MOROR in CHAROSES, which is a sweet mixture of nuts, raisins
and apples, honey, wine and cinnamon, which symbolize how tears were
replaced with gratefulness and how the burden of bitterness and suffering
was sweetened to lessen its pain.
dip the green vegetables in salt water to recall the tears we cried but
the greens represent the hope and redemption of leaving Egypt
eat a ROASTED EGG, as the egg is a symbol of life and the perpetuation of
ZEROAH, the shankbone of the roasted lamb, symbolizes the paschal
sacrificial offering that was offered first in the temple and after the
sacrifice was enjoyed at the Passover Dinner.
during the meal four glasses of wine are consumed to represent the
four-fold promise of redemption: taking the Jews out of Israel; rescuing
them from slavery redeeming them with an outstretched arm and great
judgments and taking them to Him for His people.
Finally, the elder explains why they are reclining at the Passover meal.
In ancient times, a person who reclined at a meal was a free person, free
from slavery, and so reclining at the meal reminds one of the glory of
now we know the menu and how the meal that Christ last shared was
Today, most people think of the very famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of
the Last Supper, when they think of that meal. They see the 12 apostles
and Christ, seated on one side of a long table.
da Vinci lived in the 15th century. And the picture he painted
was more that of a medieval banquet, rather than a 1st century
Jewish Passover Seder. And even though da Vinci’s picture has become the
reality of the Last Supper for so many people: it just isn’t the way it
Christ sat down to that supper, there wasn’t a table with chairs or
benches about it. He would have been reclining on the floor, everyone
gathered in groups of 4 or 5 around large platters or low tables. There
would have been men and women and children all celebrating the holiday
together. And that is the picture we should be recalling when we
CELEBRATE the sharing of this meal.
Christians that particular Passover was made the most special in the gift
that Christ gave us.
ever, Christ took the elements with which those about Him were familiar,
to make His point.
as at holiday dinners most of us ask God to bless the food and drink we
are about to enjoy: so it was with Christ. He took the bread, the
special Passover, unleavened, Matzos bread and told His followers that
whenever they ate bread they should see in it His body which He was soon
to sacrifice for them.
just as we often make a toast to special people or events during a dinner
party, so too did Christ when He lifted up His glass of the wine that they
were all drinking and told them, whenever you’re drinking your wine in the
future, remember me and the fact that my blood will be shed for you.
used the very ordinary, very everyday elements of life that men and women
and children throughout the world and throughout the ages have enjoyed.
The bread and wine of dinnertime. The food and drink that would ensure
that Christ’s memory was shared in their homes, in their lives, in the
everyday activities in which we all engage.
He told them that these familiar items were to symbolize the New
Covenant: the Covenant between Christ and His people; the Covenant of His
body and blood, given for us so that our sins would be forgiven.
Because Christ commanded that we remember Him in wine and bread, we have
elevated it to the very formal ceremony of Holy Communion, the Eucharist .
. . in which we acknowledge our great debt and honour His sacrifice.
Christ, the new sacrificial lamb of the Passover, wanted more than that.
He wanted to be in our lives beyond the walls of the churches. He wanted
to share our homes and our day-to-day activities. He wanted His light to
light our lives and His example lead us to love and care for others. And
in choosing bread and wine to be His memorial, He gave us the opportunity
to remember Him in every meal we share. And to go forth strengthened in
both body and soul, to walk these streets with Christ everyday, meeting
friends and strangers alike, knowing they too are God’s children, loved
let the lifting of each glass of wine recall to us our eternal debt to our
Saviour and with morning toast, our luncheon sandwich, or the breaking of
a roll at dinner, remind us that we all share in the feast of Christ’s
life and rejoice in His gifts of life and salvation.
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