Celebrate the Lord’s Supper

This post is from Christopher J. Katulka, who is a Church Ministries representative for The Friends of Israel: Part 1 and Part 2.

Passover is full of ancient Jewish symbolism orchestrated in such a way to remind the Jewish people of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. If you’ve never celebrated a Passover Seder, I’d encourage you to find out where one is being held near you and attend. The Passover Seder will certainly enrich your walk with the Lord.

Jewish tradition that can be traced back even prior to Christ records that the Jews drank from four cups of wine during the Passover meal. Each of the four cups have a special name attached to them and act as fence posts holding together the seders sequence of events. The four cups are connected to sections of Exodus 6:6 and 6:7:

Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

These two verses are called the “I will” passages, where God explains to Moses his course of action and reminds Moses he’s simply a servant. It’s the Lord who will complete the divine task of delivering the Israelites. We’re going to take a look at the meaning behind these four cups that are taken during the Passover Seder both then and now.

Cup of Sanctification:

The Passover Seder starts with the drinking of the first of four cups or wine. The first cup is called the Cup of Sanctification. The Cup of Sanctification is connected to Exodus 6:6 where the Lord tells Moses, “I will bring you out.”

The word “sanctification” is associated with the idea of being set apart and being made holy. Here in the book of Exodus the Lord promises the Israelites that He is going to separate them from the Egyptian empire and make them a special and holy people to be used for His purposes and glory (read Exodus 19:5,6).

The Cup of Sanctification is something that is very applicable to the Christian life today. Just as God separated His people from the Egypt, Jesus has separated the believer from this world, “… If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, I chose you out of the world”. Believers have been set aside, made holy, and sanctified by the blood of Christ. The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.” (Heb. 13:12).

Cup of Praise:

As the Passover celebration continues the second cup of wine appears to remind the Jewish people to praise God, hence the name of the second cup is the Cup of Praise. The Cup of Praise is associated with the section in Exodus 6:6, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt.”

For more than 400 years the Israelites lived in the land of Egypt, and for a majority of those years they were considered slaves. The Israelites, who were once promised a land of their own, were forced to live in Egypt and build an empire that was not their own. They worked tirelessly doing backbreaking work probably wondering if the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had abandoned them. And then God called Moses and told him to tell the weary and worn Israelites, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of Egypt.” Those words alone should have caused every Israelite to jump out of their seats and PRAISE God for this amazing promise of freedom from the oppression of Egypt.

As Christians we cannot overlook the significance of the Cup of Praise. Just as God freed the Israelites from the control of the Egyptians, Christ released the believer from the bondage of sin. Paul tells us that for the believer, “sin shall not be a master over you” (Romans 6:14). We have been set free from shackles of Satan to live a life of freedom in Christ. As believers we should Praise God for His grace and mercy toward us. So lets “Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness” (Psalms 150:2).

Cup of Redemption:

The Gospel writers really take the time to focus in on this particular cup of the Passover seder Jesus celebrated with His disciples. According to Scriptures the Cup of Redemption becomes the cup that Jesus will connect to His shed blood.

You have to imagine being in the upper room that evening as Jesus was leading His dear friends and followers, the disciples, through the Passover seder. I’m sure the disciples had their Passover routine down. As decent Jewish men the disciples would have celebrated Passover every year and many of them were probably over the age of thirty so they knew the drill. The disciples knew every element of the seder, and each elements meaning. Until Jesus gets to the Cup of Redemption.

Typically the disciples would have associated the third cup with Exodus 6:6, “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” However, Jesus stops them and applies a new meaning to the cup. In the same way the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob used the Passover Lamb to redeem the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt… Jesus’ shed blood would redeem those who believe in Him by His shed blood.

Cup of Acceptance:

As the Passover seder comes to a close the last cup that is taken is called the Cup of Acceptance which is connected to Exodus 6:7, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Did you know Jesus rejected this cup during the seder, His Last Supper!

Directly after Jesus takes the third cup of the seder, the Cup of Redemption, Jesus says these profound words… “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Jesus rejection of the fourth cup actually makes sense. The passage connected to the cup, Exodus 6:7, highlights that as a result of God setting apart, removing, and delivering Israel from Egypt they would have an intimate relationship and God would accept them to Himself.

But what happens when the people reject God? Sadly, Israel never accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah so Jesus turned down the last cup. But notice, all is not lost. The Passover is designed to look ahead prophetically as well as look to the past. Even though Jesus denied the Cup of Acceptance He did promise to the disciples that He would drink it, “new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

There is coming a day, a glorious day, when Jesus will accept the nation of Israel and the people of Israel will accept Jesus as King!

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The Events of Passion Week

These are notes from my reading John R. W. Stott’s classic book, The Cross of Christ.

So far, we have looked at some initial facts about the cross:

  1. It’s central importance (to Christ, the apostles and the universal church).
  2. Its deliberate character (the wickedness of man and the purposes of God).

An Initial Construction:

  1. Christ died for us: being necessary and voluntary, for our sake, not his own.
  2. Christ died for us that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18): reconciliation, redemption, forgiveness, deliverance.
  3. Christ died for our sins: the death of Jesus and our sins are related to each other.
  4. Christ died our death: not only the consequences but the penalty of death. Since the wages of sin in death (Romans 3:23). The Bible views death not as a natural event but a penal event. Jesus came voluntarily to this world to go to the cross.

The last three scenes (the last 24 hours) of the Passion Week: Upper Room, Garden and Golgotha. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he was not looking back at a mission he had completed, he was looking forward to a mission he was about to fulfill.

Last Supper and Upper Room:
There was no servant in attendance and the disciples were unwilling to humble themselves enough to undertake the menial task of washing feet. Jesus then has the Last Supper with the twelve. He was teaching a couple lessons:

  1. The centrality of his death: the bread and the cup represented his body and blood. It was by his death that he wished to be remembered.
  2. The purpose of his death: the cup referred not only to his blood but to a new covenant associated with his shed blood, securing our promised forgiveness.
  3. The need to appropriate his death personally: it was not enough for the bread to be broken and the cup to be poured out, but they had to eat and drink it. So, it was not enough for him to die, they had to appropriate (or take possession of) the benefits of his death personally.

Which sacrifice did Christ mean?

  1. The Mt. Sinai sacrifice at the Covenant Renewal of Exodus 24?
  2. The Passover in Exodus 12? According to the synoptic gospels, the Last Supper was celebrating the Passover meal which followed the Passover sacrifice.
  3. Jesus spoke of him being the sacrifice, the lamb being slain in the place of the person, blood was sprinkled on the door posts, and the sacrifice was eaten in a fellowship meal.

The Agony of the Garden of Gethsemane:
Prayer was for himself (that he would glorify the Father), then for them (kept in the truth, holiness, mission and unity), and also for subsequent generations to believe them and their message.

  1. Luke mentions a “baptism” to undergo and he felt stressed, even tormented (Matthew 26:36-46), Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-64).
  2. John records that his heart was troubled, or even agitated, even though he does not mention the praying scene about the cup being removed (only the High Priestly prayer in John 17, then right into the betrayal and arrest). Why? Jesus knows the cup will not be taken from him.
  3. Jesus emerges with resolute confidence in the mission.
  4. The agony of the garden opens a window to the greater agony of the cross.

The Cry of Declaration on the Cross:
Isaiah 53:5-6 is the great passage on the suffering of Christ. Further passages on the sacrifice:

  1. The Lamb taking away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
  2. The Son came to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
  3. The sacrifice to take away sins of many people (Hebrews 9:28).
  4. He bore our sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24).
  5. He died once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18).
  6. God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  7. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).

Sayings from the Cross: My God, My God. Why have you forsaken me?

  1. Some suggest a cry of anger, unbelief or despair, only imagining he was forsaken: Seems this explanation make Jesus guilty of unbelief, or accusing him of being a failure.
  2. Others suggest a cry of loneliness: this assumes the feeling of loneliness rather than being alone, like the dark night of the soul.
  3. Perhaps a cry of victory: Psalm 22 turns toward a victory and triumph, so why quote the beginning of the Psalm when he referred to the end?
  4. The reality cry of dereliction: while he was forsaken of men, he was not alone, the Father is with me (John 16:32).
  5. John Calvin said, “if Christ has died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual… Unless his soul shared in the punishment, he would have been the redeemer of bodies alone.”
  6. Where is the Trinity in the midst of this declaration?

Conclusion: the cross enforces three truths.

  1. Our sin must be extremely horrible: we cannot face the cross with integrity and not feel ashamed of ourselves.
  2. God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension: why not let us reap what we have sown?
  3. Christ’s salvation must be a free gift: he purchased our salvation at the high price of his blood.

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