Words of Faith 1-17-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,  and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.  Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.  And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover."
 "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked.
 He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters,  and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'  He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there."
 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.  And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.  But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.  The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him."  They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
These are some of the most familiar verses and phrases in all of Christian experience. Because of that it is especially important to listen carefully and discover (or rediscover) what this night was about. Jesus was within twenty-four hours of the crucifixion. On either Wednesday or Thursday night, Jesus gathered His disciples for a last supper together. Luke tells us that the Feast of Matzah, or Unleavened Bread, was approaching but without some background we may miss much of what this was about.
There were actually two feasts at this season. The Passover Seder was a meal of remembrance. It was a way of recalling to generation after generation the redemption of God as He brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. With food, salt water, bitter herbs and sweet jam, the story of God's deliverance under Moses was recalled. This began a feast that lasted seven days called the feast of Matzah or unleavened bread. The Feast of unleavened bread was a time to clear out the sin in one's life while removing the leaven from the home.
Luke makes it very clear that Jesus had knowledge of the dangers around Him and He was in control of what was going on. The religious leaders were frantic to find a way to arrest Jesus privately so they struck a deal with Judas.
Luke tells us that Satan entered Judas, but we learn later that Jesus was aware of every detail of the conspiracy. Jesus could have easily cast any demonic influence out of Judas or anyone else, but this was the way that Jesus allowed Himself to be arrested. Make no mistake about it; Jesus was in control.
We might ask: Was Judas some kind of a pawn? Most scholars do not see this as a "demonic possession" but as a satanic influence. If Judas was indeed a disciple of Jesus, and we have no real reason to say that he was not, he chose at some point the way of Satan. It is more likely the case that Judas made every choice along this path because of a political motive or personal disappointment. Judas cut a deal with the religious leaders but He also sat at the table for this last supper. He had every opportunity to change his mind. But none of this surprised Jesus at all.
We also see that Jesus was in control of the preparation for the Passover meal. He sent Peter and John to secure the room that Jesus had readied. They were to follow a man carrying a jar of water. This was an unusual sight because women always carried water. The exception was in the Essene community in which men lived separately from women and carried their own water. Some scholars believe that Jesus and His disciples withdrew to an Essene section of Jerusalem for the Last Supper. This helps us to locate the area today. It is also possible that the Supper took place in the home of John Mark the Gospel writer and cousin of Barnabas (Acts 12:12). John Mark would have been barely a teen when he may have observed the events of that night.
Preparation for the Passover would have including a Passover lamb sacrificed at the Temple, unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, charoses, salt water, and wine. There would have been another day of Sacrifice at the Temple of a second lamb as part of the offering for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. From John's Gospel, we know that the death of Jesus apparently coincided with this second offering.
Luke gives us a straightforward account of the events. He does not go into detail regarding the Passover meal probably because Gentile readers would not have found the same significance. The meal would have included at least four cups of wine, but Luke describes only two of them.
The Passover meal was a powerful remembrance of the Exodus. Every part of the meal recounted a part of the story of God's deliverance of the Israelites from bondage. The Passover meal was always eaten in a reclining position because this was a sign of freedom. Slaves did not eat reclining, they ate standing.
Jesus said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." Jesus makes it clear that this is not an ordinary Seder. The disciples may well have been somewhat oblivious to the shortness of time. They had watched Jesus deflect the questions, attacks, and traps of the religious leaders. They continued to see that everything was in His control. But Jesus now told them that the time of suffering that He had spoken about will soon take place.
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." This was probably the first or second cup of the Seder or Passover meal. The cups were each identified with a specific promise from God in Exodus 6:6-7.
1) I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
2) I will free you (deliver you) from being slaves to them, and
3) I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
4) I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
And Jesus took bread, He gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." This was where Jesus changed the Seder Supper. There were three pieces of Matzah in the Seder service. They represented God, Ruach HaKodesh-- the spirit of God, and Messiah. The one in the middle was broken. In family settings, half of it was hidden away for children to search for. This was called the afikomen which means dessert. The other half was divided among those present. When Jesus took the bread and broke it, He was declaring to His disciples that He was the Messiah. He is the bread broken. He is the bread hidden. He is the afikomen or dessert.
Jesus then gave a directive that disciples were to do this in remembrance. "In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'" This was probably the third cup, the cup of redemption: "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment."
We will look at this more. It is essential as believers that we consider this passage and practice the directive of Jesus. People of many different traditions read this devotion. The point is not to argue the differences. The point is to look to the Scripture and respond. Jesus gave us a means of remembering the enormous cost of our salvation and the hope we have in Christ. This weekend many of you will have the opportunity to take the cup and share broken bread. Make it a point to be there. Do so in remembrance. Do so with awe. Do so with celebration and joy for He has redeemed us with an outstretched arm.
Father God, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for giving Him to the world so that we could have life everlasting and freedom from sin and death. Lead me to the place of remembrance this weekend. In Jesus' mighty name.