The Passover and the Supper
J. Foster Crane, New Zealand
"This day shall be unto you for a memorial", Ex. 12. 14. "This do in remembrance of me", 1 Cor. 11. 24, 25.
The annual observance of the Passover was commanded by God to keep always before His people the basis on which they were separated from Egypt and established as His chosen people, Ex. 12. 27; 19. 5-6-that is, on the once-and-for-all-time sacrifice of the Passover lamb.
In the upper room on Passover night, the Lord Jesus, the true Passover Lamb observed the last Passover feast and instituted the new covenant of grace on the basis of His own blood to be shed the following day-"this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many", Matt. 26. 28.
The Passover gave place to the Supper, and with it, the divine command was given "Do this in remembrance of me". Paul stated the matter plainly in 1 Corinthians 11. 26, "as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew (proclaim, announce) the Lord's death till He come".
It is at the Supper that the local assembly ever keeps in mind, and openly confesses, before the world and all heavenly beings, that final and complete reconciliation between God and men is effected, not in the death of an innocent lamb, but in the death and shed blood of the Lord Himself.
The significance of the Supper, however, lies not so much in what it means to us, but in what it means to the Father. How precious must the blood of the Son be in His sight. It was because God "saw" the blood, that He passed over His people and it is because God "sees" the blood of the Son, judgment is averted, and grace is extended to the believer.
If our observance of the Supper lacks warmth, spontaneous praise, and active participation in thanksgiving, singing and exhortation, is it due to the simple fact that "the Lord's death" means but little to us?
In contrast to the remembrance of an innocent lamb, the death of the Lord is unique.
1. Because of the person who died. It was "the Lord" who died. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2. 8. writes "The princes of this world... crucified the Lord of Glory". Peter said that the Jews "killed the Prince of life", Acts. 3. 15. The Jews demanded His death because He was "the Son of God", Luke 22. 7O._"This is the heir", they said "come let us kill him", Matt. 21. 38. Over His cross, Pilate wrote, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews", John 19. 19.
The One who died was none other than the "Alpha and Omega", the creator and sustainer of the universe. "I am the first and the last", He said, "I am He that liveth and was dead" Rev. 1. 17-18.
2. Because His death was determined by the Father, and chosen of His own will. Though slain at the hands of men He was, in fact, delivered into their hands "by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" Acts 2. 23; 4. 25-the Jews and Gentiles merely did what God had determined beforehand.
His death had been planned in eternity past "before the foundation of the world", 1 Pet. 1. 20, and in dreadful hours of Passover day, He was "smitten of God and afflicted", Isaiah 53. 4, "forsaken", Matt. 27. 46, and "delivered up", Rom. 8. 32. The Son, in turn, viewed His death as an act of obedience to His Father's will, Phil. 2. 8; Heb. 10. 7; Luke 22. 42-"a burnt offering" having only His Father's glory in view, John 12. 27; 17. 4. "No man taketh it from me", He said, "I lay it down of myself, John 10. 17-18.
3. Because of the manner in which He chose to die. "He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross", Phil. 2. 8. It was only because He suffered "on the tree", Acts 5. 30; 1 Pet. 2. 24, that He could become "a curse", Gal. 3. 13 and thus fully endure the consequences of sin, Gen. 3. 17. No accusing voice in hell, heaven or earth, will ever be able to say that the price was not fully paid, 1 Pet. 1. 18-19. Sin could be atoned for only by the most shameful and humiliating death.
What a difference it would make at the Supper if, instead of seeing mere bread and wine, we could actually gather at Calvary, and "see" the events that took place there! Light-hearted praise and singing, would give place to deep humility, heart-searching and Spirit-controlled worship.
4. Because of the reason for which He died. The ultimate purpose for which the Son of God entered into the sphere of human life was to defeat the work of Satan and restore fallen man to the favour and fellowship of God. He did this (a) by taking upon Himself the "likeness of men", Phil. 2. 7; (b) by identifying Himself with our sins, 2. Cor. 5. 21; (c) by becoming an "offering for sin", Isa. 53. 10. His death was thus substitutionary and sacrificial.
"The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all", Isa. 53. 6. "He bare our sins in His own body on the tree", 1 Pet. 2. 24. "He should taste death for every man", Heb. 2. 9. "He is the propitiation for our sins", 1 John 2. 2. "Christ died for our sins", 1 Cor. 15. 3.
"It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul", Lev. 17. 11, but just how the blood of Jesus of Nazareth makes that atonement, and satisfies the justice of God, is a mystery that our minds cannot grasp.
5. Because of the blessings that resulted from it. (a) For the Lord Himself, death led to immediate glory, John 12. 23; 17. 5; Luke 24. 26; Heb. 2. 9. Exalted and honoured by the Father, Phil. 2. 9-11-made Lord and Christ, Acts, 2. 36-Conqueror and Ruler of all satanic and heavenly powers, Eph. 1 20-22-Head of the church, Eph. 1. 23-King and Ruler of Israel and the nations, Psalm 2.6; Rev. 19. 16. (b) For those who receive and love the Son His death brings forgiveness, Eph. 1. 7; 1 John 2. 1-2, peace and reconciliation with God, Col. 1. 20, acceptance into the heavenly family, Rom. 8. 16-17, eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit, John 10. 28; Eph. 1. 13, freedom from sin's power and dominion, Rom. 6. 14.
The wages of sin being fully paid, and the power of death being conquered. Heb. 2. 15; 1 Cor. 15. 55, the believer may, with full confidence, look forward to eternal ages in His presence in bodies made in His likeness, Phil. 3. 21.
In the meantime we keep the Supper "till He come".