The Final Week: The Upper Room
This week we explored the Last Supper that took place with Jesus and His disciples in the Upper Room. I loved that we explored this together, because Passover is one of my favorite biblical holidays! There is so much to this holiday that helps us remember what God has done in the past and look forward to his continued salvation in the future.
I had never noticed before what Pastor Dan pointed out about the context of this story within Mark. Right before this story takes place, Judas goes to the chief priests and betrays Jesus to them, and right after the last supper, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial and the abandonment of all of His disciples. This story, couched between betrayal and denial, shows us the sin that makes the death of Jesus necessary.
It is very significant that Jesus institutes the tradition of communion during a Passover seder. As Pastor Dan talked about, this meal and its traditions were a way to remember what God did during the Exodus from Egypt.
Passover is the very first holiday God commanded his people to celebrate in Exodus 12. It is the night of the final plague in Egypt and the Israelites are finally going to be set free from the yoke of the Egyptians. Pharaoh has hardened his heart numerous times, but this last plague will leave him devastated and he will finally allow the Israelites to leave. Moses has warned Pharaoh of what is about to happen, and God has given instructions for the meal the Israelites are supposed to eat as they prepare to leave. They are to dress in traveling clothes, eat a lamb, eat bitter herbs, and avoid leaven. Most importantly, they must take hyssop and spread the blood of the lamb over their doors. The Lord is about to pass over Egypt, and he will smite the firstborn of anyone who does not have the blood of the lamb upon their doorposts.
The Lord provided a way for people to be saved from the destroyer—it was a monumental night in the history of Israel, and He wanted them to remember what He had done forever. God gave them tangible ways to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt — lamb, herbs, unleavened bread. This meal would forever remind the Israelites that God passed over them and brought them freedom. It is also important to note that the Israelites had a task to do. In order to be saved, they had to put the blood of the slaughtered lamb over the doorpost.
At Jesus’ final Passover Seder, He took the bread and the cup and gave them new meaning. He would become the atonement that the world needed by shedding His blood in our place. Instead of the blood of the lamb on the doorpost, it would be Jesus’ blood that protects us from eternal death.
I really appreciated our take-home points from this sermon. Pastor Dan pointed out that we have to take what Jesus is doing for us. It’s not just automatic. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, the invitation is open to everyone. But we must repent of our sin, understand our need for Jesus and realize that salvation is found in no one else.
We also acknowledge that our remembering includes participation. When we take communion we are acknowledging our exodus from sin and our freedom that was accomplished on the cross.
We come to the table unworthy. But we know that as long as we come through Him there is enough grace and mercy for all.
This week think about these questions with me:
- How does this explanation of Passover and its meaning affect you?
- What are some ways you can actively remember the things God has done for you?
- Have you recognized your sin that made the cross necessary?