Just moments ago I folded up an eight-page letter that my grandparents wrote to me almost 25 years ago. I found it when I was going through my parents’ basement. I was helping them prepare to move, so we opened dozens of boxes that had been tucked away for years. As we opened each box and unwrapped the contents, it felt like Christmas discovering old toys, out-grown dresses and dusty photo albums. I was a little sad as we separated out many things to give away, but it was also a precious time of reliving special memories.
As Easter draws closer, it’s important to remember what it’s really about—remembering.
You’re heard of The Last Supper, right? It was the last dinner Jesus shared with His disciples before His death and resurrection. You’ve also probably heard of Passover. But did you know that they are related? Did you know that the Last Supper and Passover are memorials?
Just like my grandparents’ letter helps me to remember them, and just like the boxes in my parents’ basement bring special memories to mind, these two meals were given by God to help us remember.
The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for almost 400 years. After a series of plagues designed to force Pharaoh to free His people, God sent one final punishment. In order to separate out His people, to mark them and keep them safe as those who believed in the One True God, the Israelites killed a lamb and painted their door frames with its blood. Then, they ate their final meal in Egypt quietly inside their homes. That meal consisted of the lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs. That final meal became a feast that the Israelites celebrated every year called The Passover.
Exodus 12:25b-27 says, “When you enter the land the LORD has promised to give you, you will continue to observe [Passover]. Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’”
Centuries later, in a quiet, upstairs room, Jesus and his disciples sat down to eat the Passover meal together and remember how God freed the Israelites. But, as Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine, He told the disciples something new:
“…and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”
(1 Corinthians 11:24-25)
Jesus still wanted the Passover to help them remember, but now He wanted them, and us, to remember something different. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He became our Passover Lamb. Because He died, God now “passes over” us; He forgives us and we don’t have to pay for our sins. Those who do not believe in Jesus, just like the Egyptians did not believe in The One True God, will not be passed over and they will face punishment for their sins.
This Easter, when you sit down to a special meal, stop for just a minute. Bow your head and remember what Jesus did for you, for me and for everyone who believes in Him.
Just a few brief thoughts this morning. Do you have any idea what the term “Maundy” Thursday means? I didn’t! So allow me to share my new found knowledge:
Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”, the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of
John 13:34 (paraphrased from Wikipedia)
Jesus’ words there have been pooling in my mind all week, also the following words, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)
Think of it! Today is the very day (some 2000 years ago) that we recognize Jesus telling His disciples the secret to evangelizing the world; the secret to complete obedience to Jesus Christ, the secret to all God wants from you.
It is love for one another. Look again. Jesus single commandment to His disciples: Love as I have loved you.
Also, it is in that love that the world will recognize us as His! It is in that love we find our own identity.
I want to share one short devotional that I wrote recently for http://www.swagga4christ.com, as well as three songs that bring me to my knees.
Short Devo: The End
“I finished the laundry!” My husband said.
“Now you can rest because there’s nothing left that you have to do!”
I cast a glance at the stack of clothes on the top of the washer. They weren’t folded the way I fold them. The didn’t look like they do when I’m finished doing laundry. I sighed. There was no way I could rest, the laundry needed a little more work.
John 13:1 says, “…having loved his own which were in the world, [Jesus] loved them to the end.”
When Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished,” John 19:30.
The words “end” and “finished” have the same root word in the Greek: telos. Telos means: that by which a thing is finished, it’s purpose.
Jesus loved us to the finish. His love for us, shown by His death and resurrection, put to an end all of our works to please God or to earn His forgiveness. All the payment for sin that God required were finished by Jesus.
Think how it would hurt my husband’s feelings if I refused to accept his gift of doing the laundry for me and decided I could do it better myself. It is the same way with Jesus. When we think that we can or must do more to please God, we are actually saying that Jesus didn’t do a good enough job paying for our sins.
You only have to believe in Jesus. All the work is finished!