Sunday, April 26 2020
“The band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him” (John 18:12 ESV). Soldiers arrested Jesus of Nazareth under a full moon in the Garden of Gethsemane. Every Passover feast began on a full moon. The nation of Israel followed a lunar calendar starting each month with no light of a new moon and marking each week by a quarter moon so that the 14th day of each month was a full moon. The Jewish Scriptures commanded that the Passover take place on the 14th day of the first month, which is Abib (Exodus 12:2).
The smell of roasted lamb would have drifted throughout Jerusalem on the night of Jesus’s arrest. A few days earlier, Jesus entered Jerusalem near the 10th day of the month when God commanded Israel to select a first-year male lamb for the Passover feast (Exodus 12:3–5; cf. John 12:1, 12). They killed the lamb on twilight on the 14th day and put its blood on the doorpost and its crossbeam (Exodus 12:6–7, 21–23). This was lamb was a sacrifice to the Lord (Deuteronomy 16:2). They roasted the lamb and ate all of it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8). They ate it quickly with belt and sandals on and staff in hand (12:11). The description of “Passover” comes from the LORD passing over Israel, but the LORD did pass through Egypt striking the firstborn by "the destroyer" (12:12, 23). God established this feast upon delivering Israel from Egypt by the tenth plague, which was the death of the firstborn of Egypt.
The Passover foreshadowed the coming of Christ. God saved Israel by the blood of the lamb and by water as they passed through the waters of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1–4). God already knew that Israel’s Passover would allude to the coming of Christ and His sacrifice. John the Baptist declared Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36). Just as the Passover lamb was to have no broken bones so Jesus did not break a bone in His death (Exodus 12:46; cf. John 19:31–37). The apostle Paul observed, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus made peace by giving His blood for one to receive by faith (Romans 3:25a). Paul noted, “This was to show God's righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” (Romans 3:25b).
Before the night of Jesus’s arrest, Jesus commanded Peter and John to go prepare the Passover meal (Luke 22:7–8). On that Passover, Jesus spoke, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15–16). Following this, Jesus blessed the bread, broke it, and blessed the cup to institute the Lord’s Supper (22:19–22). After Jesus’s resurrection, followers of Christ assembled on the first day of the week to break this bread (Acts 20:7; cf. 1 Cor 11:17–34).
Moses had specified that seven days following the Passover lamb was the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:14–20). Followers of Christ eat unleavened bread every first day of the week because Jesus instituted the communion meal during the Passover just before His death (Acts 20:7). The Scriptures set the precedent for unleavened although without a direct command for unleavened bread in the Lord’s Supper. However, the Bible is specific about Christians partaking of bread in the supper (1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:23–26).
The Lord’s Supper is not all that remains of Passover for Christians. The apostle Paul specified that to live a holy life removed from evil is to celebrate the Passover. This includes not associating with anyone named a brother who is living in sin (1 Corinthians 5:6–12). Paul declared, “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (5:8). The apostle also noted that the congregation is to assemble “in the name of the Lord Jesus” to disassociate from a believer practicing sin to restore them. They did this to remove the sin like leaven to celebrate Passover with sincerity and truth (5:5, 13).
Jesus’s death without the resurrection would be like the Passover sacrifice without Israel exiting Egypt. Therefore, assembling on the first day of the week to break the bread of communion makes sense also to recognize Jesus's resurrection. Jesus paid the price on the cross and was victorious by His resurrection to bring eternal life to the faithful. This time of the year was for the Passover that is another reminder to the world of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and encouragement for struggling believers to assemble every first day of the week to break bread together (Acts 20:7). Thank God every day of the year that Christ arose.