Wednesday 27 June 2012

Bible Book:

"The festival of unleavened bread, which is called the Passover, was near." (22:1)

Luke 21:37 – 22:13 Wednesday 27 June 2012


The story of Jesus is nearing its climax and Luke's Gospel setsthe scene for the dramatic events that are to follow. The Jewishfestival of Pesach took place on the 14th day of the month ofNisan, and celebrated Israel's escape from Egyptian slavery. At thetime of Jesus (according to the Jewish historian Josephus) up to2,500,000 people would crowd into Jerusalem, with a predictablepressure on space and resources. Anyone who has been to a rockfestival or in London for the diamond jubilee celebrations willhave some idea of what that means! The Jerusalem crowds werevolatile and rioting was a constant danger, so the caution of thoseJewish leaders who were plotting against Jesus isunderstandable.

The disciple Judas moves over from light to darkness as he agreesto betray Jesus to the authorities (verses 3-6). Jesus is to behanded over for suffering and death, in the same way as thePassover lambs are sacrificed as part of the preparation for thefeast: 'Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us' (1Corinthians 5:7). While Luke's Gospel is picturing a genuinehistorical event, there is also a deeper symbolism. Ever since,Christians have seen a strong continuity between the liberationcelebrated by Jewish people at Passover, and the liberationcelebrated at Easter.

The main Passover meal would take place on the first evening ofthe festival and was usually a household celebration with between10-20 present. Sometimes a Rabbi and his followers would celebratePassover together, and this is the scene described, with Jesussending his most trusted disciples to make sure that everything isready. Even here, Jesus' prophetic powers and God's providentialguidance are prominent. In all this vast crowd, Peter and Johnsomehow find the exact person who will help them prepare for themeal!

Jesus and his followers were Jewish, part of the rich traditionthat stretched back through the centuries to the founders of thenation. This is something that Christians have often forgotten,especially when they have thought of Jesus in opposition to theJudaism of his day. Luke is very keen that we remember.

To Ponder

How can we learn more about our Jewish roots?

What parts do meals play in our expression ofChristian community?

Try and relive the story, with yourself as one ofthe characters or as a member of the crowd. What are your thoughts,feelings or reflections?

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