Devotion - April 17, 2014
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.
The title â€śMaundyâ€ť comes from the Latin word â€śmandatumâ€ť which means â€ścommandment.â€ť The word appears in the Latin translation of John 13:34, where Jesus said to his disciples: â€śA new commandment (mandatum) I give you: Love one another.â€ť
While Jesus truly did give his followers that great command on the night before Good Friday, Maundy Thursday is most memorable for its â€śsuppers.â€ť
On the night before his death, the Lord Jesus gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Passover. The Passover meal was an annual festival held to commemorate how God at the time of Moses delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt.
Exodus 12 tells how God, to protect his people from death in Egypt, instructed every Israelite household to take an unblemished year-old male lamb and slaughter it. The Israelites were to paint the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their homes, and roast the lamb whole and eat it. God promised that when he saw the blood of lambs marking the homes of the Israelites he would â€śpass overâ€ť their homes and spare them from the death coming upon Egypt.
The Passover meal foreshadowed a far greater deliverance from a far worse slavery through a much better lamb. Just as God saw the people of Israel living as slaves in Egypt and doomed to die there, so he saw all people living as slaves to sin and doomed to die eternally.
But God had a plan to deliver his people. That plan also focused on a lamb, but not one from the flocks of Israel. This Lamb was Godâ€™s own Lamb, his own dear Son Jesus Christ. This Lamb would deliver a world of sinners from their slavery to sin and death by dying on the cross.
Because the true Passover Lamb had now come to take away the sins of the world, the Passover that Jesus ate with his disciples on Maundy Thursday was indeed the â€ślast supperâ€ť of its kind. During that meal, the Lord instituted a new supper to replace the Passover. That new supper is the Sacrament of Holy Communion, or as it is often called, â€śthe Lordâ€™s Supper.â€ť
The Bible tells us that Jesus took some of the bread from the Passover meal, gave thanks and gave it to his disciples saying, â€śThis is my body, which is given for you.â€ť He also took a cup of the wine that was used for the Passover and gave it to his disciples, saying, â€śDrink from it all of you. This is my blood which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.â€ť Jesus made it clear that he wants his followers to continue celebrating this Supper until he returns and brings the world to an end.
Together with the bread, Jesus gives us his body that bore the punishment for our guilt. Together with the wine, Jesus gives us his blood that was sacrificed to free us from our sins. Our Lord does this to assure us that the death in hell we deserved has passed over us; through Jesus we have lifeâ€”eternal life! Indeed, with believing hearts we rejoice to receive the Lordâ€™s Supper often for the tremendous blessings that we have through Jesus: forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
Our Savior Jesus Christ, you are the Passover Lamb who rescued us from eternal death by sacrificing your body and shedding your blood for us. As we receive your true body and blood in the Supper you instituted, nourish our faith, cheer our hearts, and strengthen our wills to live for your glory. Amen.
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