Into Passion Week (Part 1)

As we enter into the “passion week” with tomorrow being “Palm Sunday”, I thought we ought to look at a few Scriptures leading up to, and including Jesus’ brutal death and miraculous resurrection.

Permit me to say that the concept of “Easter” is pagan. Be it the Easter Bunny, Hot Cross Buns, Chickens and Easter Eggs … they all find their origin in the worship of pagan gods, pointing to new life as in the chicken and the egg. Normally in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter is associated with Spring … new life. From a commercial point of view one understands how people have run with the idea of Easter as it is a lucrative venture for any business … but it is pagan and has nothing to do with what we celebrate as Good Friday (Bloody Friday) and Resurrection Sunday. Where this weekend does mean new life, meaning the salvation of the soul through Jesus’ salvific work, it has nothing to do with Easter’s pagan origins. Today’s reading comes to us from Mathew 26:17-30 and would more commonly be called the “Last Supper”. Please try and read that passage.

1) Passover Meal.

Mt 26:17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

For the origins of these two feasts we need to read Exodus 12. In remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, Israel were instructed to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread from the 14th of Nisan to the 21st of Nisan. The Passover Festival, remembering the Angel of Death passing over the Israelites, yet slaughtering the first born throughout Egypt, from the first born son, to the first born animal was celebrated during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As Christians we do not celebrate the Passover or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As these feasts were Jewish festivals, Jesus and His disciples celebrated them. His disciples wanted to know where they should prepare for this meal. It was Thursday morning and apart from securing a venue for Jesus and the disciples, a lamb needed to be bought and slaughtered that afternoon in the forecourt of the temple and unleavened bread, bitter herbs, wine and other items needed to be bought. The lamb needed to be cooked, the sauce needed to be made, the furniture needed to be arranged … and time was running out. We celebrate Bloody Friday and Resurrection Sunday Annually and the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection regularly because of our great deliverance from the claws of satanic bondage at Calvary.

2) Perfect Directions.

Mt 26:18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.

God always does things according to His time table and they are done on time. Jesus has obviously prearranged the venue, which was obtained free of charge as was the custom when people had extra facilities. Jesus directs the disciples to where the venue would be with a message for the house owner. What is significant here is Jesus’ awareness (consciousness) that the moment to fulfil the Rescue Mission His Father sent Him on was hours away! (My appointed time is near.) This refers to His imminent crucifixion. Although your death and mine is not salvific, it is imminent. Death could come our way at any time. Jesus had been preparing for this moment all His life, especially the past three years. Have you been preparing for your death? Remember that once you die you cannot change anything … where you are and what you left undone.

3) Purposeful Betrayal.

Mt 26:20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21 And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” 22 They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” 23 Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24 The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”

It was now Thursday evening and Jesus and His disciples were gathered around the table celebrating the Passover Meal. Throughout His ministry He had been cautious about His movements. Now He was in Jerusalem … on the doorstep of the Jewish Religious Leaders and He drops a bomb … “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” Eleven disciples were shocked. One of us betray our Lord to the religious authorities? They ask one after the other … “Surely not I, Lord?” Judas however asks … “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Right here we see hypocrisy coming out. The eleven were committed to Jesus’ Lordship over their hearts and souls. Judas saw Jesus as another teacher (Rabbi). His true colors came out right here with Jesus responding … “Yes, it is you.”Right here we need to stop and ask … “what is Jesus to you?” Is He you Lord? Does He own and direct you heart and soul? Or do you see Him as another good person … a teacher, miracle worker or healer? You need to clear this up in your heart immediately because as John records:

Jn 13:27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.  29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

Not to have Jesus as Lord means you are indwelt by satan and for you it is eternal night if you don’t repent and believe and receive Jesus as Lord.

4) Profound Meal.

Mt 26:26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Mt 26:27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus is pointing to His imminent death using the elements we use for the Lord’s Supper. Although at that moment they did not realize what they were doing, this was the enactment of the next day when Jesus was crucified. Look at the words … “for many” in verse 28 and make certain you are one of the “many” otherwise Judas’ fate will be yours.

Father in Heaven, as we prepare ourselves for next weekend, help us to appreciate more fully what You have done for us through Jesus. Amen.

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