Yesterday we attended a Maundy Thursday Seder meal at our church.The children remarked at the confusion–Monday? But it’s Thursday? I pointed out that it’s a near-homonym. Then it became a joke–Maundy? But it’s Thursday! Ha-ha-ha.Yes, well, anyway, I tried to explain the basics of a Passover meal to my Gentile/Protestant kiddoes. We haven’t observed any kind of Christian-ized Seder meal as a family in our home, nor have we been invited to a Jewish family’s home for a traditional Passover meal. Plus, we’ve been traveling the last couple of years around Easter time and missed any kind of community celebration at a church.This year, however, we’re in town. So we attended the one our church put together. It was an abbreviated version. Simple. Spare.I kept thinking back to the one I attended years ago that was led by a man named Steve who grew up Jewish. He wove his own story and memories into the evening, making it very personal.Evidently there are many subtle variations to some of the elements of a Seder. Steve told us that as the ten plagues were recited, each person was to dip his or her pinky into the wine glass, one dip per plague. He waited to see how many of us naturally licked our pinky and then grinned, “Did you put pinky to your mouth? You just took in all ten plagues!” He recalled how his family used to play that joke on guests.Before Steve became a Christian, a friend of his had been talking openly with him about Christ. One year, Steve invited this friend over to share the Passover meal with him and his family. This friend sat through the meal astonished at the symbolism that flows throughout the ceremony–three matzahs, the middle one pulled out and broken, half of it wrapped in a cloth and hidden away to be found later by children. These details seem so clear to a believer in Jesus Christ. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. Son is the middle One of the Trinity, broken for us; His body wrapped in a cloth and hidden away to be found later–or rather, not found–by “children.”The story from Exodus of the blood of the Passover lamb being applied to the doorposts is the symbol on which the entire event hinges.Because of the blood of the lamb, the people of Israel were passed over by the angel of death. They were spared, not by how good they were or how righteous…only because of God’s plan and provision. Only because of the shedding of innocent blood.Steve pointed to a hastily drawn doorpost that looked something like this (forgive my own haste and lack of artistic ability–the haste kind of goes along with the first hurried Passover meal, but I have no excuses for the childlish drawings):He reminded us about how the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb, take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the house where they ate the lambs. He put up a drawing that looked like this:[EDITED: I forgot that there should be blood at the bottom of the doorframe, too, that would have dripped down from the top–and that would correspond to the blood from Jesus’ pierced feet.]The places on the doorframe, he said, correlate to the blood of the Lamb as He was nailed to the cross.And then he pulled over his drawing a clear overlay of a cross so that it looked something like this:I was so moved by this realization–this connection in Scripture and history and through Judaism to Christianity to me today, that I was stirred to tears that night.So simple. So clear. So powerful.And so tonight, Good Friday, I will join again with whoever shows up for that service, to ponder the sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ, the Lamb of God, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins.
John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!By His stripes we are healed.What was horrible suffering for Him on that Friday thousands of years ago, brought total and ultimate good for us.It’s a strange way to save the world…but it is good. Very good.