Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 23, 2016

He made them new

Jesus sent a few disciples off on a sacred and purposed mission to prepare a room for a special meal.  His week would end sharing the central meal of the Passover festival with all of His disciples before continuing on to the garden of Gethsemane, where He would willingly give himself up to those who sought to kill Him.  Every step in His final week has been intentional.  No detail has been random.  And we are about to experience intention again in a deep and dramatic way.

As night fell, the time arrived, the guests were all seated, and John’s gospel says it so beautifully…

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (John 13:1 NIV 1984)

In showing them the “full extent,” Jesus rises from his seat, wraps a towel around his waist, pours water into a basin and begins to wash the feet of His disciples.  This was: a King born in a manger; a Savior who had “no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58); a Messiah riding on a young donkey; and a Deliverer crucified in the manner of a common criminal.  Jesus took the place and posture of a servant and showed His disciples “the full extent of his love.

The supper they shared that night was the central meal of the central festival, which celebrated the central story that defined Jewish identity … Seder.  To understand it, you have to know the story of:  God’s miraculous and epic deliverance of His chosen people after being enslaved 400 years in Egypt; the ten plagues, which caused Pharaoh to release God’s people; the plagues that appeared odd and random, but that each specifically targeted an Egyptian deity; the final plague when God did not distinguish between Egyptian or Jew, and provided a way of escape only through the sacrifice of a perfect lamb.  This was the meal Jesus was sharing with his disciples that night.

There is not adequate space to note it all, but suffice it to say there was great significance in each of the elements and specific order of the Seder.  At the top of the list were the central elements — the bread and the wine.  In the midst of this particular Seder, Jesus took these two central elements and made them new in Himself.  He did not replace them — just as He did not come to abolish the law.  He made them new in Himself — just as He fulfilled every letter of the law.

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take; this is my body.” (Mark 14:22b ESV)  The bread Jesus took was without yeast, signifying the haste with which the Israelites were to eat their last supper in captivity.  Yeast took time to rise, and God was clear that the one thing His people didn’t have was time.  Yeast is also an integral symbol in the preparation for Seder.  Jewish people take GREAT care (beginning weeks prior to Passover) to rid their houses of even trace amounts, because yeast symbolizes sin.

There was only One without sin, and that One had just taken the first of the two most central elements in this central meal and made it new in Him.  The bread was no longer just a symbol of the haste in eating the meal before the exodus; it was His body.

Jesus then took a cup, and after giving thanks he passed it to them saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”  The Bible passage, which includes those words (Mark 14:23-24 ESV), begins, “And he took a cup.”  It is significant that the Bible says Jesus took “a cup” and not “the cup.”  There are actually four cups in the Seder meal symbolizing the four promises God gave to Moses to share with the people in response to their cries for deliverance (Exodus 6:6-7).  Those four promises are…

I will bring you out … CUP OF THANKFULNESS (start of Seder)
I will free you … CUP OF JUDGEMENT (before meal begins)
I will redeem you … CUP OF REDEMPTION (Grace after the meal)
I will take you … CUP OF COVENANT (end of Seder)

Verse twenty-three continues “… and when he had given thanks he gave it to them.”  The language scripture uses gives us confirmation of which cup Jesus took and passed to His disciples.  It was the third cup — the cup of REDEMPTION -– and Jesus says, “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.”  Jesus has now taken the second central element (wine) of this central meal and made it new in Him.  The wine was no longer a symbol of the blood over the doorposts, which redeemed the Jewish nation in the story of their great deliverance; it was His blood.

I believe it is also important to note the very next thing Jesus says.  “Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:25 ESV)  Cups three and four are Jesus’ unfinished work.  The cross is still before Him, and one day He will return to take His people — all His people — home.  Can you even imagine?!  But until that day, He will not drink of these two very purposed cups.

Every step was intentional for Jesus.  No detail was random.  And Jesus had just taken the central elements of the central meal of the central festival that celebrates the central story, which defines Jewish identity and made them new in Himself. He does not replace them.  He makes them new.  And in so doing, He invites EVERYONE to the table.

We are now just hours away from the cup that Jesus pleaded with the Father to take from Him (Mark 14:36).  But for now — for today — let’s stay around the table, or even better, let’s go out into the margins and invite people in.  The bread and the wine belong to all of us!

SPECIAL NOTE:  In every other post this week, I’ve made specific and repeated mention of the particular day it was in the last week of Jesus.  Yet in today’s post, there was no mention of “Thursday.”  If you are aware of the story of the Seder, you would know it is observed on a Friday (before the Saturday sabbath).  Does that mean, then, I borrowed from Friday’s events to have something to write about today?  Actually, no.  The sacred Seder that Jesus enjoyed with His disciples took place after sundown.  Being a Jew, Jesus’ day began at sundown, not midnight (as our’s begins).  So the Seder I told of today happened on His Friday morning, which is our Thursday evening.  Totally confused?  Glad I saved that for last? 🙂

5_thursday_He made them new


Responses

  1. Thanks! The central elements of the central meal of the central festival that celebrates the central story! Newness, fullness, completeness in Christ. 🙂

    “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

    – New birth…..new mind….new heaven….new earth…..new attitude…..new self…..new name…..new song…..new command…..new sight…..new covenant…..new treasures…..new LIFE!

    The old, not simply done away with, but died to and transformed to the new – raised in newness of LIFE!

    “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18 🙂


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