The institution of Passover has always struck me as being an important reminder of the word reverence–respect together with awe.
Many people will have some familiarity with this gathering, even if only from watching ‘The Ten Commandments’ on television. Today, people can probably sketch out the battle between Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner along with the important phrase: “Let my people go.” They will, however, miss the significance of the celebration for they do not understand that there is more to this feast than just the remembrance of God instructing the Israelites to kill a lamb and spread the blood on their door so that they may escape His judgment of death to the first-born for Pharaoh’s unwillingness to allow the Jews to leave Egypt.
From what I know, the Passover Seder is a time when Jewish families gather together to remember the events of their ancestors hasty exodus from slavery under Pharaoh. Before the ritual meal, those celebrating would cleanse their hands. Grace would be said. Copies of the Haggadah, the traditional text containing the Seder service will be situated at each place. An opening prayer to bless the first of four cups of wine would be passed around. The eldest sitting table would take one of the three unleavened breads waiting, break it, and set a portion aside. That is the signal for the youngest member of the family to being with the question: Why is this night different from all others? Now the story of the first Passover would be recounted, during which the cups will be drunk. Bitter herbs would be dipped in salt water and passed-a reminder of their years working in slavery. A roasted egg, a lamb shank, a root of horseradish, matzoh, are set on a plate together with apples mixed with honey and a bit of wine which signify the mortar used in the building of the pyramids commanded by the Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. A roasted lamb would be served and two more cups of wine together with different prayers and blessings will be given. This ritual concludes with the signing of Psalms 115 to 118 (the Hallel) a hymn-like recital after which the final cup of wine is drunk with the significant: “Next year in Jerusalem” uttered to conclude the feast.
The four cups of wine are considered a sacred reference to God’s promises:
“I will bring out,” “I will deliver,” “I will redeem,” and “I will take.”
Holy (or Maudy) Thursday is a celebration of Jesus’ final Passover meal with His disciples. It is therein where Christ institutes a new aspect of this holy Seder meal. He will be the lamb slaughtered for the sin offering. His blood will now be the significant remembrance of the “I will bring out,” “I will deliver,” “I will redeem,” and “I will take,” to His people. His body will be the broken cornerstone of our body-buildings here on earth.
Holy Thursday is the beginning of the birth of a new nation.
As Moses was once given the ability by God to free the Israelites to ensure a new nation, so too, is Christ. Luke 22: 14-And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
Tradition and rebirth.
Christians should take time to look backward from whence we have come. Today, we celebrate the birth of a new nation instituted by Jesus Christ whose beginnings were acknowledged even in the time of Moses.
Respect together with awe.
From the beginnings to the end. Until Christ returns we remember the significance of what His sacrifice means. God did not ‘pass over’ the Gentiles but allowed us to join with His chosen people and enables us to commune with Him through the blood of His son. How grateful we should be that He will bring out, deliver, redeem, and take us with Him into the very presence of God!