Luke 22:7-23, NIV 2011 7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” 9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. 10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.” 13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. 14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this."
I suppose every family has its own traditions. When they eat at Thanksgiving or if they open a present on Christmas Eve or wait until Christmas Day. Many families have a weekly date or plan for a vacation each year that is designed to draw them together and call to memory the importance of their own lives. Some families see their lives as being part of a greater picture so they plan for a reunions with members of the extended family once a year or maybe every other year just to ensure that time and space aren’t allowed to come in like a thief and rob them of the things that really matter. These traditions mean so much to many of us and we are not fully engaged with life until we can pass them along to someone else.
What happens when a tradition changes?
What happens when what you are passing along looks like a previous tradition, but has so much new meaning?
Passover was one of three great traditions that the Hebrew people were required to pass along. Based on the account in Exodus and Moses’ further instruction, Passover was an annual event where families came together to remember how God had delivered them out of bondage, led them on their first real Exodus, and continued to lead them to the land of milk and honey. They weren’t to simply look backward and think of God’s wonders, they were to look forward to God’s eventual plan to bring peace and unity to the world at large at the end of days. They were to do this as a reminder of God’s presence and promises. And they were to do this as a family.
Each of them had done this growing up. Every year they gathered for a number of days in Jerusalem to participate. Representatives from their family brought a lamb to the temple, the lamb was killed and a portion given to the people who then went back to a place they were dwelling, gathered as a family and continued the feast as prescribed in the Scriptures. It was a family event.
On this occasion, the family were the disciples and Jesus. As I read the account of this Passover meal, I am reminded of what the body of Christ is supposed to be. The disciples and Jesus took the meal in private as a family. While Luke doesn’t record it, I am quite certain that the various elements of this meal were experienced such as the 4 cups of wine, singing of psalms, the telling of the exodus story, and a reminding of God’s great covenant with Israel. However, on this evening the story began to change. Jesus no longer pointed to the Covenant on Sinai, but pointed to a new covenant He would be establishing – not with wine or unleavened bread but with His blood and His body. Just as Israel had remembered that God had established with them an everlasting Covenant in Egypt, Jesus was establishing an everlasting Covenant with the disciples – and the Church- on this Passover night by pointing them to his pending death. Where Israel had been the children of God for centuries, Jesus was creating a new family beginning with the Jew but extending it beyond to all of creation.
A family that would be rooted and based on the love of God in Christ shown to all the world through the Christ’s suffering. But it was not without cost, for among them sat a betrayer. Strange isn’t it how just when we think all is good, someone shows up to try and destroy our hope. Someone shows up to break up the family.
Be careful here. Don’t be too quick to assume you know who the betrayer is. Certainly the most obvious candidate would be Judas – and that would be historically accurate. He did betray Jesus and the disciples and at some point in the meal left to do just that. But rest assured that he wasn’t the only one to “betray” Jesus- nor was he the only one who invited a betrayer to join them at the table.
Remember that Satan had entered Judas sometime before which means in essence when Judas sat at the table with Jesus, the tempter was right there with him doing his work to create division in the family. Which is what he still does today:
Is it possible that some of our “fights” in the body of Christ are not really about what Jesus would do, but what Satan would have us do in Jesus’ name?
What would you do if you realized that as you sat at the table with other members of the Family pondering why they are so sinful or why they continue to not change God simply whispered in your ear – “Be careful my child, that is not my voice you are hearing.”
Sometimes the most difficult thing to keep in mind during the Easter week is that the story isn’t really about us as much as its about “US”.
Go in Peace.