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God’s first great deliverance: the roots of Communion

September 5, 2023

Daily Scripture

Exodus 12:1-7, 13, 21-27, Luke 22:11

Exodus 12
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month will be the first month; it will be the first month of the year for you [March-April in Western calendars]. 3 Tell the whole Israelite community: On the tenth day of this month they must take a lamb for each household, a lamb per house…. 5 Your lamb should be a flawless year-old male…. 6 The whole assembled Israelite community should slaughter their lambs. 7 They should take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and on the beam over the door of the houses in which they are eating.

13 The blood will be your sign on the houses where you live. Whenever I see the blood, I’ll pass over [Hebrew verb of the noun Passover] you. No plague will destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

21 Then Moses called together all of Israel’s elders and said to them, “Go pick out one of the flock for your families, and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood that is in the bowl, and touch the beam above the door and the two doorposts with the blood in the bowl. None of you should go out the door of your house until morning. 23 When the LORD comes by to strike down the Egyptians and sees the blood on the beam above the door and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over that door. He won’t let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you down. 24 You should observe this ritual as a regulation for all time for you and your children…. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ritual mean to you?’ 27 you will say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for the LORD passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. When he struck down the Egyptians, he spared our houses.’” The people then bowed down and worshipped.

Luke 22
11 Say to the owner of the house, ‘The teacher says to you, “Where is the guestroom where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?”’

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Exodus 12 was (and, to a great extent, still is) Israel’s defining story. Moses told Pharaoh that if he stubbornly refused to free God’s people a deadly plague would kill every firstborn child in Egypt. The story’s focus was on God’s plan to “pass over” Hebrew children (the origin of the word “Passover”). Using a hyssop branch to put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorposts delivered them from death into life. Saved by God’s power, they were able to leave their Egyptian captivity as free people.

  • Three symbols were at the core of the Passover Supper. Israelites sacrificed a “flawless” lamb, its blood protected the Israelites from death, and eating the lamb was an act that set them apart as God’s people. How can the meanings of the Passover symbols of lamb, blood and eating add deeper meaning for you as a Christian taking part in the Lord’s Supper?
  • The Hebrews also called Passover “the Festival of Unleavened Bread” (Exodus 12:17). For them, that preserved the memory of a departure so rushed that there wasn’t time to let bread dough rise, of a moment when God’s people had to respond NOW, not later. Have you ever faced a situation in which delay was practically the same as refusing to move at all? How can you live ready to respond to God, even if it leads to unexpected changes in your life?

Lord Jesus, you asked your people to honor symbolically how you set them free, protecting them by the blood of the sacrificed lamb. Help me, their spiritual descendant, to value the way we honor your great deliverance by sacrificing yourself. Amen.

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Picture of Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

I didn’t grow up in the Methodist church; I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition. One thing the Southern Baptists prided themselves on was not being tied down by meaningless tradition, instead choosing to examine ideas and events and come to their own conclusions about how to respond. In practice, this usually meant that we replaced old traditions with new ones, and we were just as dogmatic about those new traditions and viewpoints as the people we claimed to be rebelling against.

There’s probably a whole sermon in that point, but I’m saying this to point out that I didn’t really grow up with the old, enduring Christian traditions that the Methodist church has embraced. I’m still grateful for many things I learned in my old church, but in attending and joining the Methodist church, I’ve had a chance to experience and explore these old traditions for the first time. Liturgy is still a pretty novel concept to me, and it’s refreshing to find the same meaning in these things that people hundreds of years ago did too.

In my re-discovery of these old Christian traditions, it’s given me a new perspective on many of the Jewish traditions that sprang from the Bible as well. Jewish traditions were not exempt from the scrutiny of my non-traditionalist upbringing, so I spent a lot of time asking why without really seeking the answer. Seeing the deep meaning of Passover Supper be a center point for family gatherings is now something I really admire, since many of the religious holiday traditions I grew up with revolved around pine trees and dyed eggs.

Now, I completely realize that in both the Methodist and Jewish faiths, there are some people who view these traditions the same way I now view Christmas trees and Easter eggs: something we do on family holidays that doesn’t mean much to me today. Tradition is only as meaningful as we make it. There will someday come a time when the traditions I’m talking about here become too familiar and routine for me and I will lose the meaning in them as well. The challenge then will be in rediscovering the meaning in those traditions and seeing them in a fresh light again.

This has been a bit of a rambling post, but the point for anyone reading, as we focus on some of the old traditions we’ve practiced for hundreds of years, is to spend some time lingering on and thinking about those things. There is meaning in the traditions we practice, and being mindful of that can bring new perspectives to any level of faith.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.