Take just about any significant or memorable event in life, and chances are good there is a meal involved in some way. Something about eating food together creates a bond between people. And perhaps because when we eat we are utilizing so many of our senses at once – taste, touch, and smell – the event, whatever it is, is branded in our memory.
It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.
A SOLEMN MEAL
God perfectly understands this phenomenon, and so we should not be surprised that He commanded the Israelites to eat a meal before they left Egypt (see Ex. 12). Called the Passover, this meal was a memorable part of God’s wonderful deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage. For this momentous meal, an unblemished lamb was sacrificed in each household. The blood of that lamb was sprinkled over the doorway of the home. As the lambs were roasting with bitter herbs, the Lord moved through the land of Egypt executing judgment. Homes that displayed the blood of a sacrificial lamb on their doorposts, He passed over.
This Passover meal became an annual festival for the Israelites. For generations to come, Hebrews ate unleavened bread and roasted lamb and were reminded of what God had done for their forefathers on that fateful night in Egypt.
More than merely looking back, the meal also pointed forward to an even greater deliverance God would perform. Over fourteen centuries later, Jesus Christ would come to earth as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He would be “without blemish,” or without sin (1 Pet. 1:19). He would be sacrificed for our sin (Heb. 10:12). His blood would be applied to our consciences (Heb. 9:11-22). Is it any wonder that Paul identified Jesus as “Christ, our Passover” (1 Cor. 5:7)?
The night before He died, Jesus gathered with His disciples to celebrate one last time the great Passover feast. As they ate, they remembered their nation’s physical deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Then Jesus called the group’s attention to an even greater spiritual deliverance that was imminent. To help them (and us) remember this wonderful gift of salvation, Jesus instituted a new and different memorial meal of simple bread and wine. Called the Lord’s Supper, communion, or the Eucharist, the meal points to the Cross, the Resurrection, and all God does for us. There we have the ultimate expression of God’s infinite mercy and love.
A SOLEMN REMEMBRANCE
Typically, Christians do not celebrate the Passover. But Christians do partake of the Lord’s Supper. The next time you hold that piece of bread in your hand, think about the Passover meal. You stand in a long line of people who have tasted the deliverance of God. And as you sip the wine or grape juice, remember that it is the precious blood of Jesus Christ, “your Passover” that saves you from the slavery of sin.