Blogging the Bible 257 – Matthew 26 – A Second Passover

At the heart of Jesus’ journey to the Cross is the Passover meal he shares with his disciples. As he told us to, we remember it as the main act of our worship every time we celebrate Holy Communion.
Again, we see that Jesus is taking us into a much older story. His death for our salvation is linked by this meal, with its remembering and reenacting, with the Passover led by Moses centuries earlier. Now we are being led to a deeper freedom than that of the Israelites – not just into a land but into a whole new way of living as free children of God, without the fear of death or the weight of guilt. And now this freedom will be not just for one nation but for all peoples.
I do think, as well, that remembering that the Last Supper (and by extension the Holy Communion, Mass, Lord’s Supper, Eucharist – whatever we call it) is rooted in the Passover might help us to shortcut some of the bitter arguments about what it means. When Jewish families gather at the Passover table, they retell the story of the Exodus, linking it to different and very specific foods and drinks through the course of the meal. In remembering the story together, the understanding is that the family is not just retelling an ancient piece of history, but sharing in the journey.
When we celebrate communion, we remember in a way that links us to those ancient events. The communion is not a re-sacrificing of Jesus, but a real and powerful joining of those who share it to that meal in the upper room, and to the Cross itself. Like a Jewish family at Passover, we are saying ‘It was not just for our ancestors but for us that God did this.’
The whole story of these last days hours before the Cross is filled with events and importance. But this gathering of Jesus with his friends at the Passover table is a key link of Old and New Testaments, and a vital pointer towards the age in which we now live, strengthened by the remembrance of what they shared.

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