“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” – Deut. 6:6-7.
Today, my little family of five gathered around the kitchen table and partook of the Passover Feast together. The preparation took me hours. The ceremony took a couple of hours. By the time we were done, we were all exhausted – especially the children, who were up past their bedtime. But we spent time together reading God’s Word, singing His praises, and thanking our God. By the end of the ceremony, our hearts (and tummies) were full!
Many people ask me why I even bother. We are not Jewish. It is not a part of our religion to participate in the Passover Feast. It takes a lot of planning and meal preparation on my part to make sure the feast will go as planned. So why do we do it?
We do it to remember. We do it to teach our children. We do it to praise God. We do it to prepare our hearts for Easter.
Two thousand years ago, there was another Passover Feast. Friends who had been following their Savior joined together, preparing a meal that was a custom for their culture. Even though Jesus had told them over and over again that He was going to be crucified, the twelve disciples couldn’t seem to get it through their heads. What was going through their minds as Jesus sat with them, partaking in what would be His last meal?
Think about these men. They had been following Jesus for some time, watching Him perform miracles, seeing Him cast out demons, and listening to Him prophesy of His coming death and resurrection. But still, they did not seem to grasp what was happening. Their hearts were still hard, and they were not ready for Easter.
I wonder if they even really understood what the Passover Feast symbolized. It was meant to be a feast of remembrance, but it was also to be a feast looking forward to what was about to happen. The Jewish people needed to remember how their forefathers were once slaves in Egypt until Moses came to lead them out by the Lord’s command. The last plague that fell upon the Egyptian people was the death of the firstborn son on any household that refused to spread the blood of a spotless lamb on their door frame. Those who obeyed were “passed over.” Those who didn’t were heard wailing into the night as they found their firstborn sons dead.
But this time, this Passover Feast with the disciples in the Upper Room, was the last time that the Jewish people would have to sacrifice an animal to repent for their sins. By the end of the week, the Perfect Lamb, the spotless Lamb, would shed His blood for all humanity, for all time, for all sins. There would no longer be a need for a ritual sacrifice because the debt was being paid in full – God’s wrath was being satisfied.
So as we sat around our humble Passover table tonight, we recounted the plight of the Israelites to our children, who need to hear how God delivered His people. But we also praised God for our own deliverance – a deliverance for our sins for all eternity. We ate the bitter herbs, remembering the bitterness of our own sins, and we savored the sweet charoset (a mixture of apples, nuts, raisins, honey, and juice) to remember how God gives us something bitter in order to fully appreciate something sweet. We sang praises to our God – “In Christ Alone” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” – to mix our voices and hearts together as we remembered His goodness to us.
I confess that there was no lamb at our feast (aside from the symbolic lamb shank bone) because, honestly, I couldn’t afford the lamb at the grocery store. But we enjoyed a turkey, mashed potatoes, and green beans as we filled our plates with God’s bounty to us. We broke bread together and drank our sparkling grape juice “in remembrance of [Him]” (Lk. 22:19). Yes, Lord, we remember!
All of the children participated – even the three-year-old. We wanted them each to know that they matter in God’s kingdom.
“Now they were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him, saying, ‘Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” – Luke 18:15-17.
You know, maybe our children didn’t understand the significance of what we did tonight. But they tried to participate, and I believe that these are the moments that they will tuck away in their hearts and one day remember for their own children.
Tonight was just a ceremonial feast, an opportunity for them to learn more about biblical history and to prepare themselves for Easter. It was a time for them to get away from Easter bunnies and egg hunts and candy. It was a time for them to remember the true meaning of Easter.
The disciples either didn’t understand or were simply trying to pretend that things were about to change for them. They didn’t know that the sacrifice their Teacher would make would be the sacrifice they would need to save them for all eternity, to save them from their own sin.
I am sure that Last Supper was somber. They knew they were being hunted. They knew someone in their midst was going to betray them. They knew that they were in danger. But did they know that it would all be worth it? Did they know what those last, dark moments represented?
As Easter approaches, I am sure you have been invited to a few Easter egg hunts. I am sure you have probably taken the kids to see the Easter Bunny. I am sure that you are doing fun projects, enjoying the spring weather, and taking time together as a family. But are you taking the time to prepare their hearts and your heart for Easter?
You don’t have to do an elaborate feast. We don’t do this every year. But you CAN gather your family together to spend time in God’s Word. You CAN teach them about the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. You CAN show them the sacrifice that Jesus made so that we don’t have to rid our house of leaven or find an unblemished lamb to sacrifice for our sins.
“Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams” – I Sam. 15:22b.
Easter is just a few days away. Are you ready to receive the true message of the season? Or are you simply looking forward to Easter baskets, brunches, and bunnies? Prepare your heart for the coming Savior!