Luke 22:7-16 (spring AD 30, daytime on Thursday of Passion Week)
Thursday of Passion Week was – not coincidentally to God’s planned and symbolic timing – the annual Passover festival. Jews then – as now – celebrated the saving of a million Jews from Egyptian slavery in about 1500 BC.
The word ‘Passover’ refers to the plague on the firstborn in Egypt that coerced Pharaoh into an exasperated and desperate, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested…And also bless me” (Exodus 12:31-32). On that night of suffering, “the Lord [killed] all the firstborn in Egypt” (Exodus 12:29). In fact, the angel of death went to every home in the entire country, and killed every firstborn in each house regardless of race, except all those houses with the blood of the sacrificial lamb smeared on their doorpost.
Which houses had that blood smeared on them? The houses of the Jews. But God was making it clear that it wasn’t their race that saved them, but their relationship with him. And it wasn’t down to their superiority or goodness that they had that relationship, but his undeserved love. Rather, it was because the smeared blood indicated that a literal firstborn (lamb) had already died in that household, so the angel of death could pass by.
The Passover lamb of each household in 1500 BC died as a substitute for the firstborn of the Jews, God’s chosen people.
All subsequent Old Testament sacrificial lambs, in themselves, achieved nothing, but were a symbol of faith and a picture of the effective sacrifice to come.
THE Lamb – Jesus – died as a substitute for all the metaphorical firstborn Jews, i.e. all Christians – God’s chosen people.
THE Lamb – Jesus – died not as a ritual symbol, but as the effective, once-for-all sacrifice that would pay for the sins of God’s people.
Jesus said that he had “eagerly desired” (v.15) to eat that Passover meal with the disciples. He was commemorating what his Father God had done 1500 years earlier, and he was celebrating what God the Father would accomplish for all of us, through his own suffering and death the following day.
“eagerly desired”…chew on that for a moment, with all that it portended, and with all the prayers he would offer up later that day for a different way of saving people. Despite all of that, his primary joy, goal and satisfaction was in glory to his Father through the salvation of his people.
If Jesus had that amount of eagerness when he was on the cusp of being the sacrifice, how much more eager should we be to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with our brothers and sisters when we are the ones who benefit from the sacrifice.