“I Have Earnestly Desired To Eat This Passover With You”

This article is part 4 of 4 in the series Lord's Supper

The shadow of the cross had been looming over the Lord for some time now. He knew what happened to those who were crucified, everybody knew. From time to time, crosses had been erected and the victims could easily be seen. It was a warning as well as a punishment. It was a cruel way, perhaps the most cruel way to die.

To be beaten or flogged was bad enough, and often ended in death. The tool used was called a “cat of nine tails,” of leather straps with bits of metal embedded. To receive 40 lashes with this, had to be unbearable. “The Passion of the Christ,” was almost too much to watch, as they portrayed the Lord being tied to a post in the middle of a court yard, and beaten while those who administered the whipping, seemed to enjoy the whole process. I wanted to stand and shout, “Stop it!” “He has done nothing worthy of this!” “All He has done is good, so why not grab those Pharisees and beat them?”

It would not have done any good, even if I were there. Those who wanted his blood, would stop at nothing until they got what they wanted. They wanted Him dead. They wanted this ‘trouble maker,’ gone! They had been challenged, embarrassed, preached to enough, and now they cried for His death.

People cried, people jeered – people covered their heads in sorrow, while others looked on with satisfaction. He was on the way to be crucified. “I win, You lose!” Satan thought.

All of this pain, agony, disgrace, and dishonor, Jesus knew was in the “cup” which He had to drink.

But before He drank it, His one desire was to be with those who loved Him, and have a supper. Just one last time, He wanted to look into the eyes of those who cared for Him. One final time He wanted to feel the joy of unity and fellowship, that they had been experiencing for the past three years. One last time…

It was here that He begins a tradition which is above all others, because it is in the very bread they ate, and the very wine they drank, that His body and blood were to be remembered.

Jesus did not hurry though this feast… for it had been planned, and this gathering was especially for this purpose of looking back. Now as we have gathered, let us not think of how fast or efficient, or of the next part of our service, or use the time when others are partaking to write a hasty check, or some such thing… Let us think about our Lord who gave everything that we might have everything.

Share Button

The Passover

This article is part 3 of 4 in the series Lord's Supper

Exodus 12:1-13 is the first record, or the institution of the Passover. It is a time of emotions, of fear, wonder and awe. It was to coincide with the last and most terrible of the plagues which the LORD God would bring upon the land of Egypt. It was that night that the God of the Universe would bring death on the land, and all the first born in Egypt would be put to death. Some of the plagues would be only for the unbelieving Egyptians, and others would affect the Hebrew people as well… this is one of those plagues.

The only way the Hebrews would be spared, is if they followed God’s instructions.
“Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs.
8  That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.”
To the last detail, the Passover instructions are given. It was a matter of life or death.
Here is how they were to eat the Passover. “This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.”

We seem to have mastered the last part of this, as the Lord’s Supper is often given a few minutes to be completed.

To think back and wonder how they must have felt and to know that the only thing that kept them safe… was a sprinkling of blood on the two door posts and lintel, must have been scary as they heard what seemed to be the whole land of Egypt erupting in cries and groans over the loss of their first born children.

It was a night to be forever remembered, and celebrated, as this was the straw that ‘broke the stubborn camel’s back.’ Pharaoh could not stand it any longer. He told Moses to get the Hebrew people out!!!

Jesus told his disciples to prepare the Passover meal. It was no small task, and must have been a good meal. Feasting was not the real purpose, REMEMBERING was the reason for the season. Impressing others with the food, the way they dressed, the fancy plates and glasses was not even in the picture. The simple feast was a remembrance of a special time in their history when by God’s grace, they were spared.

Jesus had called them three years before, and since then they had witnessed his miracles, teachings, confrontations. They had been taught from His eternal mind, all that the Father wanted them to know. They had seen Jesus reach across racial barriers, traditional barriers, class barriers, male/female barriers to reach and teach the lost. He had caused them to wonder as He walked on water, raised the dead, fed thousands with only a few fish and loaves of bread. Now He has but one more thing to do… DIE.
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” He said.

This Passover was special! More than the others. Not only was it a Jubilee, it was the Jubilee of Jubilees. Leviticus 25:8-13 states: “And thou shalt number seven Sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.”

This was truly a special celebration… but it was more special because it was the establishment of the Lord’s Supper. Luke recorded it for us in chapter 22 and beginning with verse 16, “For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God. 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.

The bread represented His body, the juice represented His blood. Not to be rushed through, not a time to show off or think about anything else, for nothing else is as important as this: HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME!
I truly was so lost I should have died, but He did it for me! Praise God! “Worthy is the Lamb,” who is now our Passover Lamb as well.

Share Button

Hand Ball And The Colonel

Gerald Wright tell this story of the time he took Dad to the gym on the Military Base in Ramstein, Germany, to play handball.
“I was no good, (at Hand Ball), so Jack said he would find someone to pair up with.” He looked on the bulletin board and found the Base Champion, a ‘full bird’ Colonel. He called and introduced himself as “Big Jack Exum from Dallas, Texas,” and said he was looking for someone to play a game of handball with him. That afternoon, they got together and Jack won the first game hands down, but was puzzled at how easily he had defeated this champion. He came over to me (on the bleachers), and said “This guy keeps calling me “Sir!” during the game.” I laughed and said, “The guy probably thinks you are a General or something!” He replied, “Well, I’m going to ‘lay it on him,’ that I am just a preacher and see how it goes.” He did, and the guy ‘beat his brains out!’ Well, I learned a lot that day, because when Jack would miss a shot, he would slam himself against the wall due to his competitive spirit. Jack was not a typical preacher.”
There’s nothing wrong with being competitive, and giving it everything you’ve got, and while life is not all about winning, it is important to us. We go to see our team win. We scream and holler, wear weird things and go crazy to encourage our team to win, and celebrate when we do win.
A bigger issue is how we play the game? We have all heard the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game that counts.”
Life is a game of sorts, and we don’t always win. At times we look back, and see more defeats than victories, but that’s not even the important thing. What is important about life is do we learn? We learn more from our defeats, than we do our victories. Character is tested and built by experiencing and learning from life’s hard lessons. It reveals what a person is, and where corrections need to be made.
Growing in grace as a Christian, is not easy. Paul uses three comparisons to illustrate in II Timothy 2:1-7.
He begins with the “soldier.” Being a good soldier is not easy. Paul says, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” Don’t get tangled up in things which distract you from serving Jesus.
He then uses the example of an “athlete.” His focus here is competing according to the rules. It’s good to win, but better to win according to the rules.
Lastly he uses the illustration of the “hard-working farmer.” It takes work to be a farmer, athlete or soldier… and all have their just rewards.
One more thing, don’t quit!
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

Share Button

Turtles And Hares Again

Growing up, one of our favorite stories was the story of the turtle (or was it Tortoise) and the hare. Most of the pre-video game generation, remember the simple story.
This is my version, or what I remember… One day this particular rabbit was bragging about how fast he was to all his friends. The turtle heard him and said he could beat him in a race. Well, this crawled all over the rabbit, and his reputation was on the line (as well as a bucket of pride), so he accepted the challenge and added a few little statements on just how bad he would beat the turtle. Everyone prepared for the event. Finally the day came for the race, and the two racers got ready to run. “Get ready!” “Set” “Go!” With a cloud of dust, the rabbit leaves the turtle behind, and gets so far ahead of the turtle, that he decides to stop and take a nap, while the turtle slowly, but surely moves forward. After awhile, the rabbit wakes up and looks around and sees the turtle has passed him and is close to the finish line. The rabbit puts all his energy into running as fast as he can, but the turtle, even though he was tired, and never stopped… won the race.
There are some good lessons for us in this story. 1.) If you start something ─ finish it! I have found myself trying to multi-task at times, and I get bogged down. Pressure builds, and accomplishments dwindle. One by one is the way it’s done. Sit down, and make a list, and numbering the jobs in order of importance. Finish the job you hate the most first. This gives momentum for completing the other jobs. 2.) Slow isn’t always bad. Being slow can be frustrating at times, but the idea is to set a good pace and keep with it. 3.) Make the most of who you are and stop trying to be something you are not. You are special and you have certain talents and gifts… use them to the best of your ability. Weaknesses can be worked on and improved as you go and grow. 4.) Slow doesn’t always loose, and fast doesn’t always win. Fast sometimes brings carelessness and mistakes, and time again spent in correcting mistakes. Taking a ‘short-cut’ isn’t always the best thing to do. The more difficult and detailed something is, the slower you may have to work… just make sure when you’re done… it is done right. In the end you may accomplish more than the one who rushes through a job and fails at the quality hoped for. Whether building a house, putting in a water line, or writing for the newspaper, being fast isn’t always good.
When Jesus finished His work here on earth… He wasn’t running a race, but He was finishing the job given Him. Nothing could be left to chance. When He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant it. The work of fulfilling the law, and providing a way for lost humanity to be saved was done, and done right the first time!

Share Button

“The Lord Our God The Lord Is One”

In Indonesia He is “Allah,” in Assyrian, “Eleah,” in Dutch “Godt,” in modern Egyptian, “Teun.” In Flemish He is “Goed,” in French, “Dieu,” in German, “Gott,” in Greek, “Theos.” In Hebrew, He is “Elohim” and “Eloha,” while in English, we call Him “God.”
Around the world people worship because it is just in man to do so. Humanity has always looked intently upon God’s creations, the sun and moon, and the stars — now, with the advanced technology of the Hubble Telescope, we peer deeply into other galaxies. Conversely, with electron microscopes, we see the beginnings of life itself. Through the smallest to the greatest of His creations, He shows us that He is truly marvelous and beyond comprehension.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4). “In the beginning,” He created, and what He created, was “good” (Genesis 1).
There is no comparing God. With what would you compare God? What picture, drawing or carving can capture Him for viewing? All attempts have failed, and fall under His condemnation, (Exodus 20:3-5). We need to learn one basic thing, He is God, and we are not.
There is no comprehending God fully. Science cannot explain Him. History cannot reach back far enough to reveal everything about Him. Mathematics cannot figure Him out. Language cannot find the words to express Him fully… He is God!
There is no debating God, and those who tried have found themselves embarrassingly unprepared and inept. Job tried, and God said to him, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me” (Job 38:2-3). For the next three chapters God questions him, but he cannot answer. (The challenge still stands.)
There is no one like God for He is the one true God. “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). “The wise fear the Lord and shun evil…” (Proverbs 14:16).
There is no one who is Holy like God “I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. (Leviticus 11:45). Nadab and Abihu did not respect Him, and died for it. The Lord said, “Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.”(Leviticus 10:3).
A little girl woke one night crying. Her Mom came in to console her saying, “God is watching over you.” She replied in a way that expresses many hearts. “I know, but I need a God with flesh on Him.” Phillip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus replied, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:8-9).
God in any language is awesome, powerful, incomprehensible, all knowing, and beyond comparison. Jesus shows us not only these things, but also shows us what is expressed best by the simple song, “Jesus loves me, this I know…”

Share Button

I Want The Right To Stumble

We stumble from the cradle to the grave as we make our way through this life.
As infants, we stumbled and thought nothing of it. We had parents who loved us, dried our tears, and encouraged us to get up, and to keep going. We were not embarrassed; we were learning to walk. Direction did not matter much and we were not thinking of ourselves.
As teenagers, we also stumbled, but we looked around to see if anyone was watching. Our thoughts were all about ourselves. We were self-conscious and had problems with pride. Less people were around to encourage us, and more just pointed and laughed.
As adults, we still stumble; sometimes we even fall up the stairs rather than down. Of course, we hope no one sees us, because we are no longer supposed to stumble. Now, there are less people encouraging us to get up and keep going. Incredibly, some hope we will not get up and keep going. Perhaps they have forgotten what it is like to stumble. Perhaps they think stumbling is unforgivable.
Stumbling is not all there is to life, although there are times when it seems to be a big part of it. Sometimes, we stumble out of carelessness or not watching where we are going, or sometimes we stumble due to an inability to clear life’s obstacles. Sometimes we stumble while playing around and acting the fool; sometimes someone puts out an uncaring foot and causes us to stumble. Stumbling is a part of life moving in a direction… a sign of trying.
Everyone stumbles, but not everyone learns. Everyone falls, but not everyone get back up. Those who get up do not always keep on going. Perhaps reflection is needed, a new direction or maybe even a compromise. These are options, but getting up and going on is not an option, not to the believer. It is a necessity! The fool stumbles because he acts as if God does not exist. Believers understand that growing, going, stumbling, falling, getting back up, and going some more, depends on keeping our focus on Jesus.
Simon Peter, when he was walking on the water, saw waves instead of a loving Savior. He was concerned about going down instead of going on. Some may condemn him for looking at the waves or tell him, “I told you so!” He sank like a rock — but at least he tried! We often stumble in life because, like Simon Peter, we tend to see the waves instead of our loving Savior.
I want the right to stumble and you should as well, because it means retaining the right to try, and if you stumble… get up, re-evaluate, and try again. One new Christian in Africa, describing what it is like to live the Christian life, wrote this unique poem. — “Go on, Go on, Go on; Go on, Go on, Go on; Go on, Go on, Go on; Go on, Go on, Go on…”
Paul puts it this way; “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Share Button