It’s Like We Were There

Tonight at church we did a Passover Seder in place of our normal Bible study on Thursday night.  I have participated in a seder before, but this night was special.  We are hosting the community Good Friday service tomorrow night to commemorate the crucifixion of Yeshua (Jesus) and tonight we played the parts of his disciples as they gathered the night before he was to die.  I told our people that I make a pretty poor substitute for Jesus, but it was my responsibility to lead the meal.

For those who have never seen, or better yet experienced, a Passover seder, it is an eye opening event.  I can’t do justice to the night’s festivities with any description, but I will say that there were several moments that were so powerful and meaningful to me.  The first came when it was time to take out the matzah that represents the afikomen.  I had the three pieces in a linen cloth and took them out.  The matzah is unleavened bread and in the three pieces we see the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in unity; the trinity of God in one.  The middle piece is removed and broken in half, and to quote from the haggadah:

Just as the middle piece of the bread of the affliction is broken, Messiah, too, was afflicted and broken.  One half is now called the afikomen – “the coming one.”  It is wrapped in a white cloth just as Messiah’s body was wrapped for burial.

matzah-closeup

The matzah is pierced and striped and the comparison to Yeshua the Messiah and the death He would die is hard to miss.  He was pierced for us and His back bore the stripes of punishment.

As I wrapped that cloth and prepared to hide it away (even as I type this now), I was nearly overcome with emotion in remembrance of the sacrifice that Christ had made for us.  That night, as He celebrated this meal with His disciples, He was acting out what was about to happen to him.  He knew what was coming.  He knew better than anyone there why they did this every year.  This was His body that He wrapped in linen and hid away.  As I said the blessing in Hebrew at that point in the meal, I swear to you that I could feel the Lord’s presence with us in the room.  I felt as if I was in that upper room that night.

After the eating of the meal, we came to the time to find the afikomen.  My kids scrambled around the room to find the hidden piece of broken matzah wrapped in linen.  This piece of matzah symbolizes the “Passover Lamb” as I have written before.  As I passed it down the table for everyone to take a piece to eat and read the blessing again in Hebrew, I was overcome again by emotion.  As I read from the Scripture, that Jesus at this point of the meal said to his disciples, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  It was another moment, pulled out of time.  We were participating in His death and even more so in His time.

It is immediately followed in the meal by the cup of Redemption.  This is of course, no accident.  God deliberately designed this for all time.  His people had demonstrated the plan of salvation every year for 1500 years give or take, until Jesus arrived on the scene and brought it to pass.  This cup symbolizes the “blood of the Passover lamb” and it was this cup that Jesus held up and blessed when He said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”  Again, as I pronounced the blessing in Hebrew, I felt another moment out of time.  We were a part of the supper with Messiah and the disciples.  What a mighty God we serve, who laid His plan out in plain sight for all who have eyes to see it.

The first time I ran into someone who told me that he kept Passover as a non-Jew intead of celebrating Easter, I thought there was something a little off with him.  I know he reads the blog quite often and only seldom comments, but I talked to him tonight and again felt the gratitude for his patience with me when I was being a little silly.  Brothers and sisters, I must tell you that keeping the Passover is not a legal requirement.  As Gentiles, we are not familiar with and are not bound to the strictures of the Law of Moses, but as God’s children, it is our privilege to be able to share in His table with joy and to come into His presence with thanksgiving in our hearts.  I didn’t celebrate the Passover seder with our church to be a better Christian.  We did it to spend a few moments with God in the heart of His plan as it has been told for millenia before us and as it will echo through the time remaining on this earth.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe.  May your name be praised forever and ever through those who have come into your family by the grace offered through Your Son, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Christ).  AMEN!

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Categories: Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, Feasts, Gospel, Grace, Hebrew, Law, Lord's Supper, Love, Messiah, Passover, theology, Truth, Yeshua | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “It’s Like We Were There

  1. “As Gentiles, we are not familiar with and are not bound to the strictures of the Law of Moses, but as God’s children, it is our privilege to be able to share in His table with joy and to come into His presence with thanksgiving in our hearts. ”

    I like that.

    We are blessed that we are able to participate at His table whenever we receive His body and blood each Lord’s Supper.

  2. Steve,
    I have been giving a lot of thought lately into the reasons that the Lord’s Supper gives the church so much trouble. Why are there so many fights over this one thing? I think it is because we have “disconnected” it from its setting, from its purpose, and from its intended mode of observance.
    The Lord’s Supper that Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 11 is a meal. It isn’t a piece of bread and a sip of wine. It is a full-blown meal. The early disciples went from house to house and shared meals together. Sure we know how to do a good church potluck, but how often do we consider taking the Lord’s Supper together then? Yet, that is where it belongs. Not in the “sanctuary” as some super-special ritual. It belongs at the table of fellowship, of koinonia.
    My mind is still wrapping around this, but it makes a lot of sense.

  3. Jeff,

    I disagree.

    But I’ve got to run.

    We’ll talk more later!

    Thanks!!

    – Steve

  4. Steve,
    I will be interested to find out where you disagree. You might check out my sermon from Sunday to get a bigger picture of what I am saying here, if you get a chance. I was preaching from 1 Corinthians 11. The experience last night just crystallized this for me.

  5. Jeff, i wish I were there! It sounds great!
    Is it possible the Spirit is bringing a sense of community the Bride has been long missing? The Lord’s Table is about communion, each with the other and all with our God. The fellowship meal is wonderful, but the Elements of bread and wine are specific to the Remembrance of His Sacrifice, and His return. The Savior used these two things, but no mention of pot roast or ambrosia.
    I honestly think every time bread enters our mouth we are to think of Him.

  6. The fellowship meal has to include the bread and wine at some point for sure. It needs to be intentional much like the seder was intentional. I am not saying that churches should do a seder every time they want to observe the Lord’s Supper, but the more I read 1 Corinthians 11, the more I notice the problem that Paul is addressing is one of fellowship at the table of the Lord. If the Lord’s Supper becomes a “thing that we do” without ever connecting with our brothers and sisters in the room, it is lost on us completely.
    When Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 10:16 and says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?”, he isn’t talking about the substance of the bread and the wine. The word translated communion is the Greek word koinonia, and it is the same word that is translated fellowship in Acts 2:42. If we are not in the moment with our brothers and sisters, we have missed it. Notice in 1 Corinthians 10:17 that he makes the analogy hold from the bread to the body of Christ in the church.

    For we, [though] many, are one bread [and] one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

    This is what the Corithians messed up and this is what we still can miss today. I will admit that the first times I heard the idea that the Lord’s Supper needed to be partnered with a meal, I was terribly skeptical, but it is starting to make a lot more sense to me now.

    Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of [others]; and one is hungry and another is drunk (1 Corinthians 11:20-21)

    Their whole problem in the supper was a problem of fellowship and kindness.

  7. Sorry Will,
    I forgot to say how much I appreciated your comment. I am thinking fast and furious about this right now and writing helps me think as much as talking things out does, and your comment spurred those thoughts.
    I would have loved to have had you there as well. Someday, I pray that we can fellowship together on this side of heaven. If not, I will still be content to worship with you before our Father in heaven.

  8. Jeff,

    I think, like just about everything else, we tend to turn this whole thing (the Supper) into what WE DO.

    We turn it into a project of our fellowshio, or our sincerity, or our faithfulness, or our rememberance.

    I think we;d be better served by looking at it as something tha He is doing…for us.

    That in the face of our rebellion, of our wanting glory, of our desiring proofs, or signs of God, or whatever…He says, “here …take and eat…this IS my body…this IS my blood, poured out for you.”

    And I think He says (in essence), that’s all your going to get.” “That is all that you need.” ME. In my promise to be with you, to work my will, my forgiveness, my love in you…inside of this meal.

    So when we put the focus there, on Him, on HIs action for our sakes in the Supper, it takes on new meaning. We don’t need to turn it into anything other than what it is…as un-sexy as it is…it is enough.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it (the Lutheran take – sort of).

    There are many that could do a much better job of explaining it than I can.

  9. Steve,
    I appreciate your comments, but I think you missed what I am trying to say. I am continuously mystified by the Lutheran perspective and the insistence of “not doing anything” whenever we “do” something.

    I think, like just about everything else, we tend to turn this whole thing (the Supper) into what WE DO.

    We turn it into a project of our fellowshio, or our sincerity, or our faithfulness, or our rememberance.

    I agree with you, as I had just commented to Will earlier:

    I am not saying that churches should do a seder every time they want to observe the Lord’s Supper, but the more I read 1 Corinthians 11, the more I notice the problem that Paul is addressing is one of fellowship at the table of the Lord. If the Lord’s Supper becomes a “thing that we do” without ever connecting with our brothers and sisters in the room, it is lost on us completely.

    I agree with the fact that is is “all about what God does and not what we do” is certainly true of salvation, but what happens in our lives at that point after God has redeemed us? Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are not a part of our salvation; they are a part of our fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His body, the church. If everything about our life in God is merely predetermined God ordained actions, then we are simply automatons that have no will of any kind. If on the other had, God has redeemed not only our life but our will from the power of sin, which is what Scripture is telling us, that “the Law of the Spirit alive in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death,” then what we do as saved individuals has some form or significance; not in our salvation, but in our fellowship with God. This is where the Lord’s Supper and baptism come into view.
    If they were a part of our salvation, why would Paul give the admonitions about the Lord’s Supper that he gives in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 and tell them that they are missing the point and actually not even taking the Lord’s Supper because of their actions and attitudes? Would it really be possible for us to “mess up” our salvation that God is alone responsible for?

    My whole point of this post is that the argument about the presence of the Lord at the table has nothing to do with the bread and the wine as much as it has to do with the fellowship of His people and I think Scripture backs that up. That is what Paul is driving at in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. That is what Jesus is driving at when He says that when two or three are gathered “in His name,” He is there in the midst of them. He is at the table indeed, in the midst of His people, the “body of Christ.”

    There is an interaction at the table of the Lord. We meet with Him there. We are transported within time to be with Him at the table that first night in koinonia, in fellowship with Him.

  10. “My whole point of this post is that the argument about the presence of the Lord at the table has nothing to do with the bread and the wine as much as it has to do with the fellowship of His people and I think Scripture backs that up.”

    Herein lies the crux of our disagreement.

    We believe the opposite.

    We believe that it is all about the bread and wine (body and blood) and what He gives to us in them.

    We believe that our feelings cannot be trusted, our fellowship cannot be trusted (although those things can be terrific) our rememberences are inconsequential (we weren’t even there), even though what happened was written doen for our sakes.

    But in the wafer and the tiny sip of wine, He is there in it. For our sakes, working forgiveness and keeping us in His faith.

    In this act, He wants (we believe) to take the religiosity, the piety, the assertion of our whetevers…out of it. He is the Host. He serves us. And He cleans up (our sins) after us.

    We have a different perspective on it.

    I did not understand this very well (I still have a ways to go) until reletively recently. But I am starting to see why this view is correct.

    It keeps us off of the project of ‘the self’ and puts everything back onto Him as it was on the cross.

  11. Steve,
    I am trying to understand where you are coming from better. How do you handle Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthian church?

    20When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!(1 Cor. 11:20-22)

    How is it that they are messing up the supper? I would assume that their theology is correct because Paul doesn’t mention that as an issue.

  12. Jeff,

    They made the Supper into an event where they brought these meals and eat them when others had nothing to eat.

    They were not sharing. The whole idea of Christ in the Supper was lost.

    It was a pot luck gone bad.

    I believe that the bread and the wine should be the only elements (and the Word of promise attached to it …given and shed for you) in theSupper because it was those two elements that Jesus mentioned He would be His body and blood.

    After worship people can gather and fellowship and share their lunches or whatever. That is how we do it.

    But the Lord’s Supper is the bread and the wine…the body and the blood. So one can actually taste, feel, touch and smell that love and forgiveness that Christ is giving, that He IS DOING to the person, in a tangible way so that the person does not have to rely on their feelings or conjur up, or muster up some sincerity or piety of their own. It is extra nos. From outside of us TO US.

  13. Steve,
    Sorry I didn’t respond back sooner. Sunday was pretty busy and I was pretty wiped out. Plus I had a test to study for and take.

    It was a pot luck gone bad.

    I have to admit that the idea that a larger meal should be the context for the Lord’s Supper is one that I didn’t warm to immediately. The first time I read something to that effect was in Ben Witherington’s book Making a Meal of It, which is a book entirely devoted to understanding communion from a biblical standpoint. I don’t agree with everything he has written it it, but the more I ponder and study this point, the more sense it makes. I can’t find an instance of communion in the Bible that is separated from a meal. In fact, it appears that eating together was something that the early church did far more than we do.

    I am not saying that the Lord’s Supper isn’t right without a meal, but I can see the value of a fellowship meal “setting the table” (pardon the pun) for the main course i.e. the bread and wine of communion.

  14. There’s a lot of ways to do this stuff.

    We like to concentrate on the things that Jesus said about the meal…that He is in the bread and the wine. So during worship, that is our focus.

    Afterward worship we bring out the famous red (Lutheran) jello, the swedish meatballs and the sushi, and have a great time fellowshipping!

  15. Pingback: Preparing for an Encounter « Jeofurry's Jesus Journey

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