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 Thief on the Cross

Passion week is almost upon us. Luke 23:39-43 records the familiar death-bed conversion of the thief on the cross. I recently studied on this topic and discovered seven truths that the repentant thief understood. These truths must be embraced in order to gain peace with God. Here’s the passage:

One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

So, here are the seven observations:

  1. The repentant thief recognized the brevity of this life: He understood the temporary nature of life because he knew he was dying. There is biblical support for this knowledge (Psalm 103:15-16; James 4:14). We also should be concerned about what happens to us when this life ends.
  2. The repentant thief understood the reality of the afterlife: He understood that life after death was just as real as this present earthly life. This explains why he spoke with such confidence about Christ’s coming kingdom (Luke 23:42). Scripture teaches the reality of the afterlife, because God has designed part of man to live forever (Ecclesiastes 3:11). All people will exist forever, either with God in his kingdom or forever separated from him in a place of conscious torment (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46).
  3. The repentant thief understood his guilt before God: He understood this fact when he said, “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds” (Luke 23:41). While he was a criminal being punished for his crimes, the Bible is clear that we all are sinners, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
  4. The repentant thief understood the uniqueness of Jesus Christ: He understood Jesus to be God, according to Luke 23:40, “But the other answered, and rebuking him said, ‘Do you not even fear God?'” He further understands Jesus by saying, “but this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). Christ was sinless perfection and was different than any man he had ever encountered. Jesus is not one among equals, but the unique God-Man (John 8:58-59; 20:30-31; Revelation 19:16).
  5. The repentant thief understood that Christ had the power to save him: He understood his own guilt, but he also understood that this extraordinary man, Jesus, could do something to save him. “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42). Jesus had the ability to help people with their primary problem: their guilt and sin before a Holy God. The solution to this sin problem is found in Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).
  6. The repentant thief understood that he could not be saved through his own good works or any act of self-righteousness: Since this thief was nailed to a cross, he understood there were no acts of self-righteousness he could perform. He could not join a church, do good deeds, or even be baptized. He was in a helpless position; just like us. We cannot do anything to merit God’s favor. God sees our acts of self-righteousness as filthy rags, if we are using them to gain favor from Him (Isaiah 64:6).
  7. The repentant thief understood that it is never too late to ask God for salvation: He knew his death was imminent, yet he still believed it was not too late to cry out for mercy and receive the divine grace the Jesus offers. Jesus gave him immediate assurance of salvation, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

No matter what you have done, or how long you have lived, or how close you are to death, it is never too late to ask God for salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2b). However, once you die and you pass into the eternal realm, then it is too late (Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27).

Here is the challenge for all of us today:

  • Do you know these spiritual realities?
  • Do you understand the brevity of this life?
  • Do you understand the reality of the afterlife?
  • Do you understand your personal guilt before God?
  • Do you understand Christ’s uniqueness and power to save you?
  • Do you understand the ineffectiveness of self-righteousness?
  • Do you understand that it is not too late to trust Christ for salvation?

If so, do what the repentant thief did and trust in Christ alone for your salvation.

[print_link] [email_link] [adapted from Dr. Andy Woods]

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