Passover…Lord’s Supper…Covenant?

Passover begins at sundown on April 18 this year.  Very few Christians will observe that feast.  Is Passover even important for Christians today?  This is a debated issue and one in which we can take different sides and still please God.  The Apostle Paul seems to speak to this in Romans 14:5-12.  Whether or not we celebrate Passover is not the issue here.  Whether or not we understand the Jewish Passover and how it relates to our participation in the Lord’s Supper IS at issue here.

The Jewish Passover was/is an annual feast commemorating the exodus of the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage.  You can read the specifics in Exodus 12.

For those of us who are Christians, we should note that Jesus inaugurated our Lord’s Supper tradition during the Passover meal.  What is often called the “Last Supper” was the Passover.  The themes of deliverance, salvation, sacrifice, and covenant that are so explicitly linked to Passover are also explicitly linked to what was happening to Jesus as he prepared to go to the cross the next morning.  I think most of us get this.

I think, however, that many of us don’t think of the Lord’s Supper as much more than a memorial.  We eat the unleavened bread and drink the fruit of the vine much like we’d look at an old painting.  We take in its texture, its shapes and its hues, but we do little more than examine and contemplate it.  We may meditate about its beauty and what it means, but we don’t participate in the painting.  But we do participate in the body and blood of Christ as we partake of the Supper.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”  When we partake of the communion, the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, we are doing much more than remembering what Christ has done for us.  We are proclaiming the Lord’s death until he returns (1 Corinthians 11:26).  But how do we do that?

Is our eating and drinking together within the four walls of our church building really an effective proclamation of the sacrificial death of our Savior?  Is that all God intends us to do with this weekly remembrance?  No.  This is a part of it, but it isn’t the whole of it.

Jesus said that to partake of the cup was to partake of his “blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:28).  In partaking of the bread and the cup, we are proclaiming that we are living in covenant with God–that we participate, we share, we join together with God in his mission, purpose, and even his passion.

By accepting the blessings of this blood covenant we also agree to its demands.  So what do we get from this covenant?  Reconciliation with God.  Freedom from our sins.  Victory over death.  The promise of eternal life.

And what do we give in this covenant?  Faithfulness and control.  We surrender control of our lives to the creator who gave us life in the first place.  We forgoe the lusts of this world in order to follow God’s call and live lives led by His Spirit.  In our baptism, we promised ourselves–covenanted ourselves–to God, and by participating in the bread and the cup each Resurrection Day (Sunday), we reaffirm our faithfulness to that covenant secured by the blood of Christ.

So remember what you’re proclaiming when you eat the bread and drink of the cup.  The Lord who died for you is the Lord who is coming again.  And until He comes, we proclaim His death, not in mere words but with our lives.  As Jesus showed humility and a willingness to be broken–indeed to die for others– we proclaim as God’s community of faith that we, too, are willing to be broken and poured out in His name so that all may know the gospel and grace of God.

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About PatrickBarber

Preaching Minister East Point Church of Christ Wichita, Kansas
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5 Responses to Passover…Lord’s Supper…Covenant?

  1. Joyce Stewart says:

    A quote from one of the sessions we heard this morning. “Anytime you take community out of communion, it is no long the Lord’s table nor the Lord’s supper.” I thought that was a great statement.

  2. Dave Wasserstrom says:

    Awesome thoughts. We truly do need to understand that we participate in the covenant that God has made with us and celebrate the fact that Christ joins us in the celebration meal everytime we eat it.
    d

  3. Vicki Welborn says:

    I have just begun to REALLY study the Bible from the beginning to the end and have just now, reached the beginning of Passover. I am 30 years old and have been raised in the church all of my life. This is my first time really sitting down to read and make sure that I fully understand the word of God. For some strange reason, I have been smitten (for lack of better words) with Passover and the fine details of it’s account. I was torn between whether or not being that I am Christian and not Jewish, if it was appropriate for me to even commemorate Passover. In my heart, I felt as though it was the right thing to do, but I was just not sure it it even applied to Christians–that is, until I read this blog. Thank you SO much for validating what Passover and the Lord’s Supper is REALLY about. For far too long Passover has been recognized as the “Jewish Passover” instead of as “The Lord’s Passover.” I think we’ve made it more about the Jewish people (no offense) and not God. But I am SO relieved in my spirit. Now, I won’t feel embarrassed when I hang a scarlet valance around my front door next Passover. ;D
    Thanks again. This was EXTREMELY helpful.

    • Hi, Vicki,
      Thanks for reading and responding!
      As you continue to read your Bible and think and pray about what God is saying to you, I certainly believe that He will help you grow in wisdom and knowledge. So keep studying! I just want to re-emphasize something I was attempting to say in the article: our emphasis isn’t really on celebrating the Passover as much as it is celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus and remembering the covenant we have joined in with Him. Is it okay to celebrate Passover and have a Seder meal or something? Sure. Does God require us to do so? No. Paul argues strongly in Galatians as well as other places that we do not have to keep the Mosaic Law in order to remain in relationship with God. That being said, I think there is much in the OT–such as Passover–that continues to bless our understanding of what God has done for us in Christ, but so often we ignore those Old Testament teachings to our detriment.
      So, if you want to celebrate the Passover as first practiced by Moses and the Israelites, then go ahead. It’s healthy to remember what God has done for his faithful people. Our emphasis, however, should remain on God and the work he has now done for us in Christ Jesus. That’s why we partake of the Lord’s Supper with regularity. In Christ, God has done something for us even more spectacular than what he did for Moses and those who escaped from Egypt. And that’s a wonderful reason to celebrate!
      God bless,
      Patrick

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