Sunday, October 13, 2013

Passion 2013, Session 2

Day two of Passion 2013 and once again, worship beforehand was intense and powerful and from the first song we could all tell that the Spirit of God was there with us, which is seriously the most incredible feeling that I've ever known.

Beth Moore was our speaker for the second session of Passion. It didn't really register to me why she picked the subject she did until the end of her message, but when it all tied together, I thought it was amazing and powerful. When Beth started her talk, she began by making statements that really registered with me; and going back now and listening to it again, it seems twice as insightful. She told us that scripture study had just as much to do with participation as worship does, that its about leaning into the word and living it. I realized that I should have just as much withdrawal from lack of bible studies that I have for lack of worship.

She asked us what we believed would happen if we were all so set aflame for the word of God that for the rest of our lives, we can't get enough of it because if we have the kind of passion we have for worship and we put it together with a love for God's word, there would be no restraining the potential of this generation. We have to protect our love and passion for both worship and scripture study.

Matthew 26:17-30 was the scripture for that morning's message: the last supper. We actually got to see and understand what actually took place at the table. We went beyond bread and wine, beyond ritual. We dove into the significance behind everything that had taken place and it was truly incredible. It was the first step into the new covenant with God. To be able to truly appreciate and understand the importance of communion, we have to start with the 3,500 year old ritual feast of the Jewish Passover, the Seder. It's extremely specific in the steps taken during the three hour meals and the order in which everything is done in accordance with the Jewish law set forth from the time of Moses. The things that absolutely had to be on the table were unleavened bread, the roasted lamb, bitter herbs (or horseradish) that serves a key point in the story, parsley (symbolizing rebirth in springtime) dipped in salt water (symbolizing the parting of the Red Sea), and of course wine.

At the start of the night, Jesus would have poured wine into His cup, then into everyone else's. He would have stood up and said a specific opening blessing over that night's meal. The wine represented the covering of the blood. For them it would have been a reference to the lamb's blood over the doorways of the Israelites for salvation from the plagues of the deaths of their firstborn sons. For us, the wine symbolizes the covering of our sins by Jesus' blood. Jesus and His disciples would have raised and drank from the cup four times. Exodus 6:6-7 tells us the meaning that coincides with each cup. Beth had us repeat back the meanings a few times to ingrain their importance in our heads.

  • Cup 1 was the promise that God will bring us out. 
  • Cup 2 was the promise that He will deliver us from slavery. 
  • Cup 3 was the promise of redemption. 
  • Cup 4 was the promise that God will take us as His people. 
Cup number one has been referred to as the cup of sanctification, so after that cup would be the hand washing ceremony. This was the point in the last supper where things started taking a different turn. Instead of washing the disciples hands, he started washing their feet. At this point, a question would be asked by the youngest male at the table concerning the meaning of the Passover and the second cup would have been poured, but not sipped. To answer the questions, an antiphony, or a statement/ response conversation would happen to tell the story. The Hebrew phrase, Dayenu, would have been the response to each statement, meaning "It would have been enough". Had he brought us out of Egypt, but not executed judgement against our enemies… had he given us their possessions and not divided the sea for us… had he divided the sea for us but not brought us through it on dry land… had he sustained us in the wilderness 40 years and not fed us with mana… had he fed us with manna but not given us the Sabbath… had he given us the Sabbath but not brought us to mount Sinai… had he brought us to mount Sinai but not given us the Torah… had he given us the Torah and not brought us into the land of Israel… had he brought us into the land of Israel and not built the temple for us... Imagine the theme of that night through Jesus' eyes, knowing that all of those things would not have been enough. Had He performed miracles that made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk, had He cast out demons and raised the dead, had He been scorned, mocked, and bruised, but not bled one drop, it would not have been enough for our salvation.

They would then read/sing Psalm 113-118 in antiphony and the second cup would be sipped. At this point, they would all be eating, but they wouldn't have come to the heart of the meal yet. This is when Jesus says to them that he will be betrayed, as they partake of the bitter herbs. These herbs were meant to burn your sinuses and bring tears to your eyes. This symbolized acting out the bitterness of slavery and the women who had lost their firstborn sons. This is where they would get to the main part of the meal, the roasted lamb. The interesting part of this specific Passover dinner was that there was a lamb on the table and the lamb of God at the table. Jesus understood the significance of this meal more than anyone because He was about to fulfill it completely.

Next, Jesus holds out the third cup, the cup of redemption, as stated in Luke 22:20.
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."  
After this he dramatically breaks the unleavened bread and tell them that it's His body, symbolizing the way His body would be broken for them. Then, instead of adding wine to everyone's cups, as was the ritual, Jesus had them all drink out of his cup. In Exodus 24:8, the blood is sprinkled over the people as the first covenant. To symbolize the new covenant, the wine (Jesus' blood) was offered to them, but they still had to decide to take it. In the garden, Jesus is praying for this cup to pass from him. This is not a metaphor, as I had always thought it was. When we go through trials and ask God to let these cups pass from us, the only way He will leave the cup in our hands is if it is absolutely crucial to what we are doing on this planet for His mission. This cup could not pass from Jesus.

Lastly, Jesus gets to the fourth cup, also referred to as the cup of the in gathering. This one symbolizes God taking us as His people, which is why it was significant when Jesus says that He will not partake of it again until He drinks it new with us in Heaven. This is fulfilled in Revelation 19, at the wedding supper of the lamb. They then sing Psalm 118 together.
Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!” I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad 
This particularly significant because Jesus knows that He is heading straight toward His arrest and execution. He knows that by that time the next day, He'd be put to death. All of history had been leading to this moment. So verse 24 was especially meaningful, remarkable really. Knowing all that was coming and blood mixed with sweat pouring from His body, He says "This is the day the Lord has made, we are going to rejoice and we will be glad in it". We don't just have good news in the gospel, we have glad news. Good is a condition, glad is an emotion. Glad means that we have gotten it, that we have realized the significance of what He has done for us. What would happen if when somebody asked you how you were, you told them that you're glad? "I'm good" is a conversation stopper, "I'm glad" could lead to a conversation about the gospel.

We should be glad because we are no longer accountable for the things we could not bear to be under, that God saved us from them. The blood that was shed on the cross was God saying, "It is enough". And because it is enough, He is enough. Our pasts don't have to be our futures God's mercies are new every morning The enemy will fall. Everything works together for our good. We have not out sinned Christ's ability to redeem us. There is a world coming with no more bad news or death. These are some of the things I'm glad about. Psalm 126:3 says The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. The gospel is glad news, the best news that a broken world and a dying generation will ever hear. The hype of this message cannot die out after Passion, as Beth Moore pointed in her message, it's too important, it's too life altering not to proclaim, too urgent to play it safe with. This world needs Christ now.

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