Art by Full of Eyes
“This is the LORD’s Passover.”
᛭ INI ᛭
What is the Sacrament of the Altar? What is the Lord’s Supper? We just read that! ”It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.” (Small Catechism)
What was the Passover? It was the LORD’s Passover, YAHWEH’s Passover. But what was it? Well, to put it simply: “It is the flesh of the spotless lamb, along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, instituted by Yahweh Himself for the Israelites to eat and to drink.”
Now I don’t want you to get the idea that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” It’s not that at all. It’s actually what Paul says in Colossians 2:17. When it comes to the Old Testament ceremonial laws (the laws about priests, sacrifices, and celebrations like Passover), Paul says, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts the shadow is Christ’s.”
So we’ve got before us this evening two things: the shadow and the body that casts the shadow. We’ve got two testaments, two great acts of salvation, and two meals that the Lord Himself puts on to go with those two acts of salvation.
“It is the Lord’s Passover.” “It is the Lord’s Supper.”
((2. The Passover was the Old Testament feast of salvation.))
The Old Testament story of salvation, the one Yahweh always called His people back to, was the Exodus. “I am YAHWEH, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Ex 20) He worked His plagues not only to judge the Egyptians or Pharaoh but also the false gods of Egypt. “Over their gods I execute judgments.” They’re just stone statues.
The Lord kills the firstborn of Egypt from Pharaoh’s house all the way down to the lowest of slaves. That would’ve included the Israelites, too, save for the blood on their doorposts and lintels. “I will see the blood and pass over,” the LORD promises. The Lord leads them out of Egypt and “drowns Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea.”
Along with this great salvation, the Lord instituted a meal. They didn’t just kill the lamb and put it’s blood around their door. They chose the lamb, they killed the lamb, and they ate the lamb! In a sense, they knew the blood marked their door because they were eating the flesh of the lamb from which that blood came.
Now, why is all this Passover stuff important? For one thing, the words of Institution say, “In the same way also after supper…” The Passover is the supper after which Jesus institutes the Sacrament of the Altar. It is His Supper. It was His Passover. He is the One who instituted it for Israel. He is the only one who could’ve implemented a new meal.
Jesus claims to be the God of Israel. He claims to be I AM, Yahweh, “the LORD” of the Old Testament. A claim proved by His death and also His resurrection. “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM,” He says. He does the Passover. “It is the LORDS’s Passover.” Then He institutes His last will and testament: The Sacrament of the Altar, the Supper of His Body and Blood. “The LORD’s Supper.”
Besides, the Passover was only temporary. The ceremonial laws, like the Passover, were “to continue only for the time predetermined by God, namely up to Christ.” We know this because “when Moses speaks of ceremonial…laws, he usually uses this phrase: [‘You shall keep it as a feast for your generations.’]” (Martin Chemnitz, Enchiridion, p. 50)
((1. The Sacrament is the New Testament feast of salvation.))
Jesus fulfills the Passover, not only by keeping it but by His death. The Passover was “a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts the shadow is Christ’s.” Specifically His body on the cross casts a shadow backward on the sacrifices of Israel, and in the shadow not everything is as clearly defined, but the over all shape is known.
Christ is the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He’s also the true Firstborn Son, “the only-begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1) He is the “Firstborn of the dead,” (Rev 1:5) “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Cor 15) The firstborn Egyptian sons, who could’ve also been protected had they joined the Israelite homes, died that night. The Israelite lambs also died. They were slaughtered “at twilight.” Or “between two evenings.” Christ also sacrificed in miraculous evening: “there was darkness over the whole land from the 6th hour until the 9th hour.” (Mt 27)
Christ did all of this for you and for all. This is now the new and greater act of salvation. The Son of God dying for the sins of His people. The Creator of the universe becomes “the propitiation for our sins and the sins of the whole world.” (1 Jn 2) “You laid the One into the grave, who built the earth’s foundation.” (LSB 438:2) There are no sins, no hypocrisy, no false gods, no devil, no hell, earthly or demonic power that holds you captive anymore. (Though the Lord’s people always want to go back to Egypt, don’t they?)
Not so for you. The Lord acted to save you: Suffering. Cross. Death. Grave. Resurrection, too! No bigger salvation than God Himself dying and rising for you. If that doesn’t do it all, nothing will. And He makes sure you get it. Just like He made sure the Israelites got protection from His judgment—blood and flesh of the lamb. He does the same for you. He hosts a meal.
Just like with the Passover and Exodus, so the Lord always hosts of feast of salvation to go along with His act of salvation. He institutes the Supper of His body and blood. His Last Will and Testament to give you the fruits and benefits of His cross. He gives you His body to eat—the Body given into death, raised, and now gloried. He gives you His blood to drink—the blood shed at Calvary, then flowing once again after easter, and now glorified, living forever. That body and blood for you, and the benefit is clear: “the forgiveness of sins.”
You have to be saved. The full cross and empty tomb prove it! You have to be forgiven. His body and blood in your mouth mean that. Just like the Israelites: “Ate the flesh of the Lamb.” So also you: “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.” (Jn 6) “See, His blood now marks our door”, the door of our hearts, “faith paints to it, death passes o’er, and Satan cannot harm us.” (LSB 458:5)
The Passover was “the flesh of the spotless lamb, along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, instituted by Yahweh Himself for the Israelites to eat and to drink.” The Sacrament of the Altar ”is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.” (Small Catechism)
The Lord saves, and then puts on a Supper. Salvation, then a meal to assure that salvation. Passover for the Exodus. The Sacrament of the Altar for Jesus’ death and resurrection.
THE LORD HOSTS A FEAST OF SALVATION FOR YOU.
That’s what the Lord does. Not just for Israel, but for you. He wants it for all His people. All people to be in the household’s of Israel. Communion of the Lamb in each separate house. Anyway, THE LORD HOSTS A FEAST OF SALVATION FOR YOU. He saves you, and then He wants you to have that salvation—to eat and drink salvation.
That’s what His Supper is all about for you. Hosting His calvary and easter for you. At His Table. The forgiveness He won for you is your very forgiveness here at His table. His body and His blood are yours. Can’t be any other way! Can it? How can you doubt it? You’ve eaten. You’ve drunk. Or you’re well on your way—even the nursing infants were saved and brought through the Red Sea waters. (Yeah, Baptism foreshadowed , too.) So many, good gifts when THE LORD HOSTS A FEST OF SALVATION FOR YOU.