MAY 1, 2016

MAIN TEXT: MARK 14:12-25

And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, butwoe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he hadgiven thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

 


The text we are reading today takes place on Thursday of Passion Week. This is the week of the Passover celebration. Passover has been a monumental annual celebration for the past 1500 years since the exodus out of Egypt for the Jewish people. Unknowingly to the Jews celebrating Passover on this year, everything is about to change and this Passover will be the last of it’s kind. Jesus will take the Passover meal and point it at Himself. 

This wasn’t a celebration Jesus and disciples were about to miss. In fact, not only would they not miss this celebration but Jesus has already prepared a place to celebrate it for them. It may seem an unusual word to connect to Jesus, but as we read the timeline of the last week of His life, we cannot help being struck with His efficiency in making sure things are already arranged. Again and again we see that He didn’t leave things to the last second, from the colt to ride in on to the room already prepared for the Passover.  

The Sovereign Lamb of God

Now as this all unfolds in front of us, we have the privilege of looking back and seeing it with a different set of eyes. We know that all of the Bible and all of redemptive history has led up to this moment, God’s plan to slay His Son as a Lamb, the perfect sacrifice for the sin of the world. God is at the center of all of this, directing every step, accomplishing that Jesus would die as a sacrificial lamb on Friday at 3 o’clock on the Passover, exactly at the time when the lambs will be slain in the temple. Why is the timing so important? He is the true Passover Lamb.

He is orchestrating all things, putting details in place that nobody is really thinking about. So, when the disciples ask about the Passover meal, He already has a plan. He sends two of them into the city and they are to look for a man carrying a jar of water. This sounds a little difficult considering there are hundreds of thousands of extra people in the city. In this culture, generally women or male slaves would be carrying water. Therefore, this man would have stood out in the crowd.  

This man carrying the jar of water must have known Jesus, being he responded to the statement in the way He did. He leads them to a room. These upper rooms were used for many different purposes, but tonight it was used for a Rabbi to have a ceremonial meal with His disciples and teach them some final instructions before His death.

The Passover Meal

The preparations made for a passover meal were to help those participating to remember and every detail of that great day of deliverance from Egypt. The lamb was to remind them of how their houses had been protected when the angel of death passed through Egypt. Unleavened bread was to remind them of the bread they had eaten in haste when they escaped. Bowl of salt water was to remind them of the tears they shed and the water of the Red Sea they were brought through. A collection of bitter herbs (horseradish, endive, chicory, lettuce, horehound) to remind them of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. A paste called Charosheth (mixture of apples, dates, pomegranates, and nuts) to remind them of the clay they had to make bricks with. Four cups of wine to remind them of the four promises in Exodus 6:6,7.

Let us also look together at what went on at a Passover.  To begin with, the head of the household would lead the evening events, talking through each piece.  As we know, Jesus is the one in this setting leading this sequence.

They would begin together with a prayer of thanks and the first cup of wine. After the first cup, there was a ceremonial washing of hands. This would have been followed by the eating of the bitter herb dipped in the salt water. Next, is when one of the three loaves of bread would have been broken, dipped into the fruit and nut paste and then eaten. As the bread and paste help to remind them their ancestors were once slaves, the head of the family would walk through the story of Israel’s deliverance. They would continue by singing Psalms together and then drink the next cup of wine. After the second cup, would be the eating of the lamb, the main meal. Everyone would then wash their hands again. The remainder of the unleavened bread would be eaten, a prayer of thanksgiving would have been spoken and the third cup of wine would have been drunk. Lastly, they would sign some more Psalms together and drink the last cup of wine.

The First Supper

Early in the celebration, Luke records in his gospel Jesus saying to His disciples, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:17)” Jesus knows He must bring to a completion an entire system and launch a new one. That He must lay out all the promises upon which every believer through all of redemptive history draws. And He must tell them of the coming of the Holy Spirit. He must confront their sin, and give them a lesson on humility. All these things must be accomplished.  He is aware of the time.

He has lived His whole life seeing the animals sacrificed. And knowing all of them pointed to Him. He is the fulfillment of all those sacrifices. He knows what He must do. He must suffer and die. He understands the urgency of this hour.  

He will die. Not just for Jews, but for people all over the world. John writes of it this way in his first letter: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)” Propitiation means that His death removes the wrath of God because it takes away sin. We see this wrath removal in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” This helps us to understand that every person in the world will be saved if they believe on Jesus and follow Him. If they believe, their sin has been taken away by the Lamb. If they believe, God’s wrath has been removed by the Lamb.

We All Have Failed

Each one of us is a sinner deserving of God’s wrath. There is only one way to have your sins taken away and find favor with God. That one way is believing in Jesus as the glorious Lamb of God. This is what Jesus was saying and doing with the Apostles.  

Believe in Jesus as your Lamb and your Lord.  Stand with the Apostles and say, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7b)”  Remind yourself daily who Jesus is and what He came to do.

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world.

 


APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Mark 14:12-25

How does Jesus’ control of events surrounding His passion encourage you when you face difficulties?

What might the disciples have thought when Jesus said that one of them would betray Him?  Do you think you would have suspected your own heart if you had been there?

How does this passage express the tension between free will and the sovereignty of God?

In what way did all the disciples betray Jesus? In what way has every person betrayed Him and put Him on the cross?  How can that betrayal be forgiven?