Connections: The Passover and the Lord’s Supper – Part 6

Last time we explored the significance of the cups of wine used in the Passover celebration. This article will examine a reference that Jesus and Paul make to one of theses cups.

The third cup comes right after supper. This cup is mentioned specifically in Luke 22:20 – In the same way he also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” This third Passover cup is known as the Geulah which means redemption, and is sometimes called the cup of blessing. As mentioned previously, the phrase “new covenant in my blood” is an allusion by Jesus to Jeremiah 31:31-34. “Look, the days are coming”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…”  The passage ends with the words: “For I will forgive their iniquity and never again remember their sin.”

It is a powerful statement Jesus is making by taking the cup of redemption, or cup of blessing, and interpreting it as God’s new covenant with humankind. The third cup reminded the Jews of God’s blessing by redeeming them out of slavery in Egypt on the very night of the original Passover. In a similar, but far greater way, God will redeem his people once, for all time through the events that would begin the very night that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. This was to be a new feast to commemorate God’s eternal redemption of his people.

The apostle Paul alludes to this third cup in his letter to Corinth. The church in Corinth was apparently involved in consuming food that had been sacrificed by pagans to their idols. Some saw nothing wrong with eating the food, while others were deeply offended by this claiming the Christians were worshipping idols in eating these feasts.

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 – The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, since all of us share the one bread.

Barclay offers the following commentary on Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians. “…a man who has sat at the table of Jesus Christ cannot go on to sit at the table which is the instrument of demons. If a man has handled the body and blood of Christ there are things he cannot touch.”

Those of us who have entered into “the new covenant in [Christ’s] blood” have pledged our faithfulness to him. Eating this feast is worship, and when we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we are not only reminding ourselves of his sacrifice, we are recommitting ourselves to this new covenant in Christ which excludes worshipping any other god.

All Christians who eat the Lord’s Supper are “one body” in doing so. Unfortunately we still allow idol sacrifices to divide us today. We often place our allegiance to our denominations, our worship preferences, our schedules, our convenience, as well as other idols before our allegiance to unity in Christ. In many ways, we fail to remember the body (church) of Jesus when we eat this feast.  May God forgive us for our lack of unity, and may God strengthen our bond to him and each other through the body and blood of Christ.

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Keep Your Focus

In 1978 during the a fireman’s strike in England, the British army took over emergency fire-fighting.  On January 14 they were called out by an elderly lady in South London to rescue her cat from a tree.  They arrived with impressive speed, and very cleverly and carefully rescued the cat, and started to drive away.

But the lady was so grateful she invited the squad of heroes in for tea.  They spent a great deal of time there talking, and enjoying a nice break from the hard work of the day.  After a good long visit, and with fond farewells and warm waving arms, they drove off, and in doing so ran over the cat and killed it.

The firemen lost the focus of why they were there.  If they had remembered and been focused on saving the cat, surely they would have looked for it before driving away!

2 Corinthians 8:20-2120 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

Sometimes we forget what we’re supposed to do in life. Even though we think we’re doing our jobs, and feel like we’re making progress, the reality is we’re so caught up in other activities that we’re not taking an honest look at what is truly going on around us. Sometimes we run over the cat we’re trying to save and don’t even realize it.

It’s times like these that we really have to stop and consider our path in life.  Am I really following the path God has planned for me, or am I being led astray by all the stuff the world throws at us?  Is God in control of our lives, or are our lives controlling our relationship with God?  It’s at these times that the first few verses of Hebrews 12 comes to mind.  We need to throw off all the things that entangle us and keep us in sin.  We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, and consider all of those who have gone on before us…all of those who endured so much more difficult and trying times “…so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”   When we grow weary and lose heart we’re not the only ones that suffer.  Those who rely and depend on us suffer as well, and sometimes that’s the greater tragedy.