|Linda, walking in Jerusalem|
SCRIPTURE – LUKE 22:14-18
14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THESE VERSES?
The cup Jesus takes is one of the four cups taken at the Passover meal. New Testament scholar Joel Green thinks it was the second cup. This is important.
Cup #1 – the head of the family gave a blessing over that cup. Cups 3 & 4 came after the Passover meal, and then Psalms 114-118 were sung – “The Great Hallel.”
But Cup #2 – that’s the point of the Passover Meal where the youngest son in the family asks the father, “Why is this night different from other nights?” “Why is unleavened bread eaten on this night?” And other questions… Jesus, on that night 2000 years ago, took the second cup. It was a different night, and would change the world. At the Passover meal the father, on taking Cup #2, would tell the story of the exodus, and gives a message on Deut. 26:5-11. The meal was interpreted as, was seen as, an act of remembering and thanking God for his past liberation of an oppressed people. It was a celebration of God’s faithfulness and hope for the future deliverance of God’s people.
They would eat lamb and bitter herbs. They would drink the series of four cups of wine.
At the original Exodus Passover lambs were slaughtered. The blood of these lambs was applied to the doorways of the Jewish homes as a sign for the Angel of Death to pass over their homes and spare the life of their first born. When the father tells this story, the Jews at the meal imagine themselves right back in the world of Moses in Egypt. Haven’t you ever heard someone tell a story in such a way that you feel as if you are right there? You feel the emotions that were felt way back then, as if you could smell the food being described and sense the oppression yourself, and then…
… experiencing the incredible thing of being set free!
Here, as recorded in Luke 22, unknown at the time to the disciples, it was one of those different nights. The Jewish Meal of all Meals was happening, for the one-thousandth time. The original Passover WAS a night different from all other nights. It was the night when the avenging angel of death “passed over” the homes of the Israelites so God could LIBERATE the people of Israel! But this night, recorded here in Luke 22, is going to be very, very different from any other night. And it will be remembered forever, not just by Jews, but by the peoples of the world.
This quite-and-very different night begins by Jesus talking, not of the Moses-Exodus story, but about His impending death, and His Kingdom that is coming in its fullness. Jesus is changing the meaning of Passover. This is shocking and unexpected.
Can we just stop here for a moment?
Change is hard. This change is beyond hard. Because up to this point Passover was celebrated in the SAME WAY ALL THE TIME! “We always have done it this way!” (These, BTW, are the 7 Last Words of the Church.) The same questions are asked. The same answers are given. And it has been this way, this very same way, for hundreds of years.
But ON THIS NIGHT, as Joel Green says: “Instead of the expected focus on the historic deliverance enacted by God in Israel’s past, Jesus talks about his own death and vindication, and the coming of God’s dominion.” (JG, L, 761) “As you drink Cup #2, this cup, remember Me.” What Jesus does on this night draws on the Exodus story. But, as N.T. Wright is so fond of saying, this is the “New Exodus.”
“After taking the [second] cup, Jesus gave thanks and said…” He did this on a night that is different from any before it, and from any that will follow. In doing this Jesus was showing that He was the “New Moses” who was, at that time and through those days, leading not only Israel, but all of humanity, in the New Exodus, in the Liberation of all humanity.
Tonight, the night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus lifted the second cup. It was the night before the day when all humanity would be set free.
1. Had you been one of Jesus’ disciples at that Passover Meal, how would you have felt when Jesus reinterprets hundreds of years of tradition in terms of His own life and sacrificial death?
2. Think of how Jesus has liberated you from your enslavement to sin. Count the ways He has done this. Give thanks to God for this.
A PHOTO PUZZLE
I took this photo in Israel. Where was it taken?