The Feast of Passover
More than 3500 years ago, the God of the Universe rescued a tribe of slaves descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the children of Israel. They were in bondage under Pharaoh Ramses II, king of Egypt. After a series of plagues had ravished the Egyptians, God had one more that would tip the scales and persuade Ramses to let God’s people go. However, unlike the other plagues, God instituted a ceremony of remembrance before this plague descended. The Israelites were to gather in their homes. They were to kill a lamb, put its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, roast the lamb and eat it. They were to prepare a meal of bitter herbs and unleavened bread to accompany the lamb. They were to eat the meal dressed for travel and stay in their houses while the death angel passed through the land. When the death angel saw the blood, he would pass over that home and all the people inside would live. In the Egyptian homes, every firstborn among the people and the livestock, died. The ceremony became known as Passover, because the death angel passed over the homes where he saw the blood. It was a ceremony of salvation – salvation from the plague and deliverance from bondage, because the very next morning, Israel left Egypt never to return.
The Feast of Communion
Years later, the Lord Jesus gathered with His disciples to celebrate Passover in an upper room in Jerusalem. The feast was prepared, and the men sat down to celebrate and remember the God of salvation. On that night, another memorial celebration was established. Jesus’ final Passover became our first Lord’s Supper. It also commemorates death and salvation – His death that leads to our salvation. It also remembers deliverance from slavery – the slavery of sin and death. It also is celebrated by people who had no hope until God stepped in to rescue them. We are those people. The God who stepped into the lives of His people, Israel nearly 4 millennia ago has stepped into our lives. The God who delivered them from slavery and death has provided the way to escape slavery and death for us, as well. They were God’s people by promise. We are God’s people by promise – the promise that if we place our faith in Christ, we will be saved from sin and receive the gift of eternal life.
At the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples celebrated two great feasts of salvation – Passover and the Lord’s Supper. Tonight we remember the first and we participate in the second. The God of salvation who delivered Israel so long ago stands ready tonight to deliver all who call upon His name. He can do that because the Lamb of God was slain for our sins.