Tales from the Trail: #2 The Last Supper and the Banquet to Come

Scripture Reading: Mark 14:12-26 & Isaiah 25:6-8 (Read Isaiah with Conclusion)
Prayer: Easter Prayer

In so many ways the Passover table was the center of Israel's people-hood. Once they were not a people, but at table they became the people of God. That night in Egypt, as the Angel of the Lord stood poised to take the firstborn child in each home, the dormant faith of the downtrodden Jews was aroused. They followed the instructions of God with a renewed vigor as they sacrificed the lamb, spread its blood on the doorpost and gathered their families around the table for a very intentional meal.

The Last Supper that Jesus shared with his apostles was the Passover Meal. Notice that definite article "the". Despite being separated from captivity in Egypt by 1,500 years, for the people of God, each time they participated in the meal it was very real and very meaningful. They weren't just tasting emblems of a long ago event, they were reliving the event. The Jews weren't in Egypt anymore, but they lived under the thumb of a brutal oppressor, the Roman Empire. So, added to the memories was a hope that a new deliverance would be experienced with each new observance of the Passover. More on that at the end. But first, let's learn more about this unique meal.

The Passover is the time for the “Telling” or Haggadah. The Passover story is still told annually after 3,500 years. It is a story about God. It is a story from God. We celebrate the Passover to remember the time that God saved the His people from death and slavery in Egypt.
The symbols of the story are important. We see on the Ceremonial plate: maror (the bitter herbs) to remind us that slavery is bitter; khagigah (a roasted egg) and karpas (the green vegetables) to remind us there is always hope with God; charoset (a sweet apple mixture) to remind us that freedom is sweet; salt water to remind us of the tears of the Israelites who were slaves, and a shank bone of lamb to remind us of the lambs that were sacrificed to redeem the lives of the firstborn sons of Israel.

The greatest tool given by God to Israel to pass faith from one generation to the next was the calendar. The Jewish calendar ends each week with a day called Shabbat, or Sabbath, which simply means to stop or cease. Perhaps God would be pleased if we took some time to consider this concept as the gears that make our world spin have ground to a halt due to COVID-19.

Beyond the weekly routine, God gave three primary annual festivals to Israel to remind them of particular pieces of his faithfulness: Passover, Pentecost (weeks) & Feast of Booths. Deuteronomy 16 gives a brief description of these three holidays. It was a real game changer for me when I realized the power of holidays to shape us as people. Why do nations celebrate holidays? Well, counties want to build pride and identity in the nation and to set times for retellings of past events and to highlight certain virtues. There is nothing wrong with celebrating our country’s independence, its greatest leaders, those who have died in war or those who work hard to make our economy successful. However, isn’t it even more important to set aside days to remind ourselves and teach our children of our God and his ways.

This entire series of devotionals is in part a lamentation that we are not able to enjoy the Resurrection Trail (the source of most of the pictures in the series) this year due to the pandemic. Today brings up a second cancellation caused by the virus, our annual Passover Celebration.

My family has observed Passovers with other Collegeside families since before my youngest was born. This year we will do so alone, and we invite you to join us with a Passover Celebration of your own, this Friday night, April 10. (If you really want to mimic the timing of the Last Supper, Thursday would be acceptable as well.) To help you with that I will share two documents. The first is the script I received a decade ago from Holly Allen. The second is the preparation checklist that will help you get the supplies together.

I hope that you will consider creating this experience for your family this week. It is so much more than a time to learn about a great Old Testament story. It will give you a new appreciation and deeper understanding of the communion we participate in each week. Most importantly, it will be an experience of the Living God that you and your children will remember forever.
Let me close with the expectation piece. The Passover not only looks back, but also forward, as should our observances of the Lord’s Supper. An extra seat is left at the table and the door is left open for Elijah, who Jews expected to return to prepare the way for Messiah. (Thus, the conversation around John the Baptist as the new Elijah.) For Christians today, and I think for Jews as well, any gathering at the table can also be viewed as a precursor for the royal banquet pictured pictured in the Isaiah 25 passage.

There will be a day when the world as we know it is no more. There will be a day when swords are forged into ploughshares and wars and viruses cease. Until that day we look back on all God has done and forward to all that God will do to bring all things together and in order ultimately and always…

In Him,

Click Here to see the original post with pictures from past Resurrection Trail and Passover events.
Click Here for the Passover script.
Click Here for the checklist.
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