Feb. 25, 2012
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters.
A big holiday was coming for the Jewish people. They call it Passover.
Every spring, the Jewish people remember how Moses became their leader and lead them out of slavery fromEgypt. Because Pharaoh was so hard-hearted, it took ten dramatic plagues affecting the Egyptian people but not disrupt the Israelite’s lives before he let the Jewish people go. The last plague was the most intense. God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to slaughter a lamb, dip a leafy branch in its blood and mark their doorposts with this blood as a sign to God. They were to roast and eat the lamb with bread made with no yeast and bitter herbs. The Israelites were to eat hurridly, with their sandals on their feet, staff in had, ready to leave quickly. God told Moses the Israelites would remember this night forever.
In the middle of the night, the Israelites heard terrible wailing from the Egyptian’s houses. In every family, the eldest child had died, including Pharaoh’s house. But the Israelites were safe. God had seen the blood on their doors and passed over their houses. Finally, Pharaoh allowed Moses to lead God’s chosen people out ofEgypt, away from slavery, back towards the land God had promised them.
It’s spring and time for Jesus and the disciples to slaughter a lamb and recall the first Passover. Jesus and the disciples are in Jerusalem. He sends Peter and John to make the preparations. First, they must find just the right place to hold the meal. Jerusalem was a big city. Where will they find a place? Jesus has already made arrangements.
Growing up, my sisters and I raised sheep. Every spring, a family fromChicagowould come to our farm and slaughter a lamb. The Dad would carefully butcher and skin the lamb, keeping it in one piece. He would collect some blood. My sisters and I would watch in fascination as he skillfully and intentionally prepared the lamb.
He came to our farm usually the weekend before Easter. I didn’t quite know why. My Mom said he was Jewish. Looking back, I now know what he was doing. He was preparing his family’s lamb for their annual Passover meal.
The Passover tradition is not always a part of the Christian tradition. We do remember the night Jesus and the disciples shared in this meal, known as a Seder Meal. We call this Maundy Thursday and celebrate it the night before Good Friday.
Lent is a season of preparation, a time when we take 40 days to prepare our hearts and minds for what Jesus endured for our sake. I can envision Peter and John carefully making sure everything was just right for their Passover celebration: the right room, food, dishes, linens, etc. May their preparations for this special and highly symbolic meal inspire us to carefully prepare our hearts and minds for understanding why Jesus became the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the earth.
Let us pray: Your only Son, no sin to hide, but you have sent him from your side, to walk upon this guilty sod, , and to be called the lamb of God. O Lamb of God, sweet Lamb of God. I love the holy Lamb of God. O wash me in his precious blood – my Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. Amen.