Flipping the Script on the Passover

September 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured [it] on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

Mark 14:3-5

We know from John 12 that Judas Iscariot was the main instigator of this criticism against Mary because of her supposed wastefulness. It is ironic that Judas (fittingly named “the son of perdition“) criticized Mary for wastefulness, since he is the one who wasted his life following Jesus, but probably never truly believing unto salvation.

There is much scholarly debate and theological dispute about the precise Biblical event which should count as the “birth of the Church,” but here in Mark 14 Jesus institutes the New Covenant.

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is my body.

Mark 14:22

Jesus was following the traditional passover pattern as He blessed and broke the bread, but then He flipped the script drastically by revealing that this was to be a representation of His own broken body.

And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

Mark 14:23-24

Jesus, despite Roman Catholic dogma, did not literally transform the bread and the wine into His body and blood.

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Mark 14:25-26

It seems odd to me that the pattern for almost all modern Christian church services is to sing first, and then to proceed with the rest of the service (preaching, etc.), when, IF this really was the first true meeting of the “Church,” they sang last. In any event, the ordinance of communion is for the purposes of memory and fellowship. Its observance holds no saving merit whatsoever, and it does not infuse any grace ex opere operato.

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;

Mark 14:32-33

The experiences of Peter, James, and John mirror what would later be expressed by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul.

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

Philippians 3:9-10

They would see Christ’s deity on the Mount of Transfiguation (“that I may know Him;” they would see “the power of His Resurrection” at the home of Jairus; and they would witness “the fellowship of His sufferings” at the Garden of Gethsemane.

And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Mark 14:34-35

Jesus, even in His humanity, said, “Abba, Father.” We who are truly Christians have this privilege also, but we can only call God “Abba” IN CHRIST. As a general rule I don’t like to criticize the way people pray out loud in public or in church meetings. I’m certainly awkward at it myself. But I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of closing public prayers with a mumbled “in Your name we pray.” It is such an awesome privilege to be able to intimately call upon the Father in prayer, and such an enormously high price was paid to purchase this privilege for us, that we ought to be extremely clear about in Whom we dare to approach the Most High with our requests, intercessions, praises, and thanksgivings.

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The Why behind the What and the How

May 2, 2014 at 9:56 am | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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Exodus Chapter 13 gives the ordinances for observing the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread.

That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.

Exodus 13:12

The firstborn would belong to the Lord – both men and beasts – as a reminder of the stewardship principle of returning to the Lord our first and best, as well as the final judgment/plague that delivered them from Egypt.

And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

Exodus 13:13

Donkeys were unclean and therefore unacceptable to God. The work of unclean donkeys is unacceptable to God, but it is still owed to God. This is a reminder to us that, as unclean sinners, our work “for God” is unacceptable in the sense of meriting His favor, but it is still owed to Him, and it is our obligation to perform it.

But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Luke 17:7-10

Under the Law, unclean donkeys could be redeemed by a substitute, but unredeemed donkeys had to die. In the same way, apart from a Redeemer to take our place, as unclean, unacceptable, and unredeemed sinners, we would have to “die” spiritually and eternally.

And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:

Exodus 13:14

The looking-forward to a sinless sacrifice should have been a constant thought among all the Jews, so that they should have been able to recognize the Messiah as the fulfillment of these types. The idea was to teach their children not just what to do and how to do it, but what it meant. Parents must teach their children the “whys” of Christianity, and the idea of the faith behind it. They must understand that we do the things we do because we believe the Word of God.

And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

Exodus 13:16

Later on the rabbis probably went too far in taking these “phylacteries” literally.

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

Proverbs 6:20-21

But there are good reasons for keeping God’s laws and commandments always before our eyes, and we may imitate the principle if not the practice. We keep them “upon our hands” in the sense that we need to be open and obvious about our faith. We keep them “between our eyes” in the sense that we stay focused on God’s Word. We keep them “around our necks” in the sense that we remember them to keep us from swiveling our head at every worldly attraction that passes by. Christians aren’t free from service. We are free to serve in truth. The Israelites had served Pharaoh, and they were still serving. Only now, they were serving the right God.

The Lambs that Were Silenced but Still Speak Today

April 10, 2014 at 11:23 am | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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The Passover lamb was a foreshadowing “type” of Christ. It continued the Bible’s theme of a sacrificial lamb, which had already shown up in Genesis.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

Genesis 22:7

We know from the New Testament that the Abraham and Isaac account is a clear foreshadowing of the death of Christ, so when the lamb becomes relevant in Exodus we can keep that same connection.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29

The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

Acts 8:32

Most gentiles do not observe the Passover – and neither should Jews really any more – but it is still a crucial subject to study, because its significance helps us to understand the Gospel more clearly.

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:7

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

I Peter 1:18-19

The title “Lamb” is so significant that Jesus will keep that title even in eternity.

And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

Revelation 6:16

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

Revelation 21:9

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Revelation 22:1

Other similarities worth noting about the Passover lamb as a picture of Christ:

1. The Lamb was examined – just as Christ was examined – and found to be without blemish. There was no other reason for the Jews in Egypt to kill their best lamb – except that God had commanded it and had attached His promise to it.

2. The Lamb was slain “between the evenings.”

And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

Exodus 12:6

This may mean around twilight – the same time that Jesus laid down His life on the Cross.

3. The lamb’s blood was applied.

And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

Exodus 12:22

It is not simply the fact of Christ’s death that saves us. It is the application of that blood to each individual personally – which is done by faith.

4. The lamb was consumed.

In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

Exodus 12:46

The Passover lambs were not boiled, but roasted. They were kept whole, with no bones broken, to help make the preparation and the meal go more quickly, but also to complete the type of Christ.

We can also note that bitter herbs were a part of the meal.

And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:8

This reminded the people of their suffering and tears, and it pointed to Jesus, the man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.

Evil Angels

March 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Exodus | 5 Comments
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And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts.

Exodus 11:4-5

“Midnight” was the time when most of the Egyptians were the most likely to be the most soundly asleep, so this was a actually an act of mercy on the part of God. We know that the Israelites avoided this final plague or judgment by painting the blood of a lamb onto the door posts of their homes. How exactly, though, did God carry out this judgment on the unbelieving Egyptians?

For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

Exodus 12:23

The LORD Himself, rather than “passing over,” passed “through” and smote the Egyptians, but He also “passed over” the homes of the obedient Israelites and would not let the “destroyer” come in. The way this is often portrayed in popular media depictions is to show a shadowy entity called the “death angel” coming through and doing the killing. We might get the impression that this death angel sort of checks the door posts, passing over some homes and entering in to others.

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/49307-passover-angelofdeathatdoor.jpg

That idea may have partially come from Psalm 78, which is a very good synopsis of these events.

Psalm 78 gives insight into how we’re supposed to think about these plagues and the deliverance, and what God wanted His people to remember about them later on. It’s worth studying, and I would highly recommend it in connection with these lessons, but for now let’s just look at one particular passage:

They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. How he had wrought his signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan. And had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, that they could not drink. He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. He gave also their increase unto the caterpiller, and their labour unto the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and their sycomore trees with frost. He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them.

Psalm 78:42-49

What does this mean? Did God send special angels to deliver the plagues and the last was the “death angel?” That’s possible. Does God have a dark side and a secret undercover team of “evil angels” that He sends when He wants to do something wicked? That’s impossible. Could this refer to the false gods of Egypt, lending credence to the possibility that they were in fact representative of demonic entities that were being ultimately controlled by God, and were now being allowed to turn against the people that worshiped them? Possibly. (Being evil, it is logical to think these demons would have no qualms about doing such a thing.) Does the “evil” in Psalm 78:49 refer not to moral evil, but to catastrophic events – what we would call “calamities?” Possibly. The point is – and it has been throughout the deliverance narrative of Exodus – that God is in control. He was keeping His Word and fulfilling what He said He would do. God has the power and the right and the authority to give and take life as He chooses.

Leavenless Lump

October 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 9 Comments
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Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:7

The Passover feast was Christ’s appointed time – the time when the spotless Lamb of God would shed His blood for the sins of the world. A little over 2000 years later, under the New Covenant, we remember this occasion by observing the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

At the Jewish Passover there was to be no leaven in the lump of dough used to make the bread. Leaven is a picture of sin in a congregation. Leaven may be small, but it is powerful. It works secretly. It “puffs up.” It spreads.

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11

Sometimes the Lord’s Supper is called “Communion,” a word which speaks of common unity. When a group of New Testament Christians assembles to observe the ordinance of Communion, one the worst instances of “leaven” would be feelings of hatred among different members of the body.

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I Corinthians 5:8


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