He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, "Isn't this Joseph's son?" Luke 4v16-22
From that time till his last night, during His 3 years of ministry, Jesus has preached the good news of God's salvation to reconcile people back into relationship with Almighty God. Through the cross, His mission will be fulfilled.
Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles were the three most important feasts on the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16v16). The Passover Feast was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). Of all the events that took place that night, we have only time to look at three of them - Jesus plans, Jesus prepares and Jesus serves.
1. Jesus Plans and is betrayed
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. and Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
Jews were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12v15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast. Jesus had warned his disciples about the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12v1). In other words, the religious leaders had cleansed their houses but not their hearts. The last thing the religious leaders wanted was a messianic uprising during Passover (Luke 19v11). Judas was motivated and energized by satan (John 13v2, 27) and was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13v10-11), therefore Judas had never believed or received eternal life (John 6v64-71). However, Judas had been given authority and had been preaching the same message. This proves how close a person can come to the kingdom of God and still be lost (Matthew 7v21-29)
2. Jesus Prepares
Disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and also required food - a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine. The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. This is why this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is Holy Communion. Here is an outline of a Passover meal at the time of Jesus:
First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
Story of the Passover recited.
Psalm 113 was sung
Second cup of wine
Prayer of Grace
Main course of roast lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
A further prayer
Third cup of wine.
Psalm 114 to 118 were then sung.
Fourth cup of wine.
Depending on your church, it can be called amongst other things, the Eucharist or The Lord's Supper. Christian Disciples are commanded to participate, as Jesus said: "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22v19). Some churches do it every service and others do it monthly. Whenever we participate in it, we do it regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11v26). The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood which was shed on the cross. Therefore before we partake of the bread and wine, we are to examine ourselves and confess any unforgiven sin (1 Corinthians 11v28-29). This is done because it would be hypocritical to eat it while harbouring known sin in our hearts and having fellowship with Jesus and others in the church!
This Last Supper, the Holy Communion - what is its significance for us?
It symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the universal church (1 Corinthians 10v17)
We receive the benefits of His once and for all sacrifice (1 Corinthians 10v16)
We spiritually feed upon Christ (1 Corinthians 11v24)
It symbolizes the death of Christ for our sin (Luke 22v19)
It symbolizes our acceptance of Christ's death for us.
It symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life.
Finally when a person remembers, that makes it their own personal story. If something is only recalled as an historical event, then that is somebody else's story being recalled. That is why Holy Communion is personal - it's our story! Is it yours also?
All these symbolize the New Covenant made between God and Jesus' Disciples - a Covenant guaranteeing salvation! The new covenant is a new meal, in order to remind his followers in every age about the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The new covenant (Luke 22v20), Jesus claims that His death, was spoken about by the prophets Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31v33-34) and Ezekiel. It was a new covenant in which God's people will be able to know Him intimately for their sins will be forgiven. Whenever a covenant was made between God and man in the Old Testament, blood was always shed. Jesus' blood will be the seal on this New Covenant, which is why we remember it.
Two other main views insist that it is more than just symbolic! Firstly, there is transubstantiation, which believes that the bread and wine actually become the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Secondly there is, consubstantiation, which believes that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Communion meal. However both of these views would indicate that Jesus Christ is being re-sacrificed and Hebrews 7 refutes these views, in particular Hebrews 7v27 which talks about Jesus' death on the cross "For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself.". The bread we eat and wine we drink at Holy Communion are only symbolic of his sacrifice and can never be a re-enactment.
3. Jesus ServesJesus washes the disciples' feet. As part of the custom of the day, a servant or slave usually undertook foot washing of guests. Since none of the disciples had done this, Jesus Himself undertakes the task (John 13v4-5). Peter is recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13v6, 8). Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13v7, 9). As we look back at this episode, knowing what we do now of the Cross, we learn how this simple act of washing feet is symbolic of Jesus' sacrificial death on the Cross.
The Cross and washing feet are both displays of great love and service. Just as Peter opposed Jesus going to the cross (Matthew 16v21-23), so he objected to having his feet washed here. Jesus' getting up to serve symbolizes His coming to serve. As he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became man. Girding Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh in the incarnation at his birth. As the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanse from sin. As He returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service, Jesus returned to the right hand of God after his work on the Cross.
When people become Christian, their sins are forgiven through Jesus' death on the Cross. That is when they had our "bath" as it were. That is the very point when we, if we are Christians, were justified before God and we are declared His child. Having been justified already, we don't need a bath anymore! But we do need the equivalent of a feet washing daily and or every time we take Holy Communion and a cleansing of our sin when we confess it before our God and repent.
Lets now compare and contrast the plan of Jesus and the plans of his enemies:
Plans of His enemies
Plot to kill Jesus (Luke 22v2)
Arranges for Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22v3)
Satan's purpose is to destroy Jesus (Luke 22v3, Luke 22v31)
Plans of Jesus
Jesus is in control
Plans the Passover meal (Luke 22v7-12)
The meal is part of His plan (Luke 22v16)
He knows Judas' plan (Luke 22v21-22)
Replaces the old leaders of God with his men (Luke 22v 30)
All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. The death of Jesus was no accident (1 Peter 1v18-21) "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."
After his last prayers in Gethsemane, Judas fulfils his betrayal of Jesus with a kiss to identify him and Jesus is arrested. Jesus is taken away to be rejected by those closest to him, to face trial, be whipped and crucified.
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