Thursday

21 April 2011

"This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance." (v. 14)

Background

Maundy Thursday is the day when Christians traditionally remember the humble actions of Jesus washing his disciples' feet (John 13:1-17) as they met together for their traditional Passover Feast.

In today's passage, we read the precise instructions for the very first Passover celebration. This is the recipe book - the written ingredients and method by which the Passover meal was to be prepared and carried out.

The Passover is a unique festival. The details are significant because of their distinctiveness.

The Passover was inaugurated by the Hebrew People who were enslaved in Egypt. This is in a time before a priesthood and a monarchy had been established. It was a ritual that demanded the equal participation of the whole of the Hebrew People. All the elders were involved in the preparation of the lamb; and all the people were involved in the preparations to leave captivity together.

It would have been chaotic! So often we think of rituals in ways that are routine, uniform and organised. This Passover ritual is so significant; but it is also rushed and full of excited and frightened preparations to leave finally the land of Pharaoh.

The institution of blood as the means of purification, protection and participation in God's kingdom begins here. It is through the blood of the lamb that the Hebrew people were freed from the plague of death. Christians remember that it is through the symbol of wine that Jesus recognises that his blood is the means of purification, protection and participation in God's kingdom (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

Not one bone of the animal is to be broken - drawing a parallel with1 Corinthians 5:7 and Jesus' own crucifixion (John 19:33).

The command is given that all are to participate, for all are to eat the animal which has been prepared. No-one is exempt from the Passover feast. It is through the feast, all the Hebrew people are sanctified and set apart.

To Ponder

What is the most important festival for you? Why?

How do you feel about God requiring sacrifice?

Do you think the details here are important? Why? Why not?

Bible notes author: The Revd Joanne Cox

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