Celebrate. Almost Easter, 2022. Not another like him, number twenty-two.
Grocery stores and retail stores are selling plastic eggs to fill, chocolate bunnies and colorful peeps, all of which I like, but please - oh please, let us consider and take to heart the great significance of this beautiful week as we remember Jesus!
Come with me back to the busy capital of Israel some 2,000 years ago ~ it is Passover time in Jerusalem and the city is teeming with people. After Passover, follows the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread-so, two celebrations of remembrance.
Passover commemorates the night the death angel killed all the first-born sons in Egypt, except for the Jews who had spread the blood of a lamb across their doorframes. The Festival of Unleavened Bread is a memorial to Israel's quick escape from Egypt when they didn't have time to let their bread rise, so they baked without leavening (yeast). Both observances were/are annual times of honoring God and thanking him for how he has saved the Jewish people. As believers, we too must remember the times God has met us, times God has intervened and saved us.
Think of the irony of what is taking place -- the Jews are about to put the Savior to death, though it is the time of year they are honoring God for 'saving' them from losing their firstborn sons and from the tyranny of the cruel Egyptian pharaoh. It is estimated that nearly 300,000 'spotless' lambs would be slaughtered in Jerusalem that week, and the one Spotless Lamb who is among them, who is their Messiah, many not only miss, but choose to kill. Hmmm . . . yes, ironic.
Jesus and the disciples will need a place to have the traditional dinner together that Thursday; the Lord takes charge, telling Peter and John to "go and prepare the Passover meal, so we can eat it together."1 'Where shall we eat such a meal, Lord?' Remember, Jerusalem is filled to overflowing with so many people in town to observe Passover, also looking for a place to eat their meal. "As soon as you enter Jerusalem, (they would be coming from the Mount of Olives which is so much closer than you can imagine - just across the Kidron Valley), a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him . . ."2 Ordinarily, women would be going to the well and bringing home water, so this man would have been easy to spot in a crowd. And of course, it was as the Master said; they found the man and he agreed to let Jesus and the disciples have their meal in his guest room.
So Peter and John prepare the meal of a sacrificed lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, wine and other ceremonial food for Jesus and his men to eat in the upper room of the man's home. Funny, because we don't usually see anything other than a fluffy, albeit crusty piece of bread and a chalice in the painting of the Last Supper, but it kinda misses the symbolism of the Passover, leaving out all of the symbolic elements and the lamb, eh?
Let's think of Peter and John for a bit. Jesus made every move with intention; he did not randomly grab their elbows thinking, 'oh they are as good as any, they can take care of this.' No, Jesus deliberately chose Peter and John to prepare the Passover meal, the Last Supper. They may have grumbled under their breath because they were doing 'women's work', well beneath their calling. But think of it--they were chosen for this task--not knowing the significance of it until much later. Amazing.
So what things, what people has God placed around you to serve? Might seem insignificant, might be difficult--raising your young grandchildren as your own, taking care of your elderly mother? Fixing your child breakfast before a long day of school and other obligations? Being faithful, responsible and reliable at your job-even after many years? What is it you are called to do? And, who are you called to serve? "We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.3
It was not happenstance that Jesus chose Peter and John to prepare the lamb. Would it interest you to know that they were the only two of the Twelve who referred to Jesus as the Lamb? Hmmm. In fact, many years later, Peter would write, "we were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect."4 Visualize Peter and John preparing the lamb that day--believe me, they would remember it all their days! God revealed to them the Lamb of God through the symbolism of their hands-on work with that little lamb. Ohhhh...
How about you? Has God called you to a task lately, that you might not be crazy about doing? Or maybe you felt a little tug about doing a particular something for someone . . . but you chose to ignore it. Maybe you shouldn't. God wants to use you in his work, just as he used Peter and John that day. No matter who you serve, that is secondary, because you are doing it as for the Lord. Yes, you are called to do the work of the King!
Make yourself available today . . .
Ask God to use you in some capacity . . . he will, you were purposed for it, and it will bring such meaning into your life.
Celebration was indeed in the Jerusalem air that week as the people remembered their rescuing God. We remember our rescuing God this week as well - he who would not spare his own Son but gave him up for us.5
Thank you, Almighty God, King of Kings, for your rescuing plan through the ages. May the rescue you provided for us forever move us to celebrate You. Amen.
We celebrate you, Lord!
1 - Luke 22.7
2 - Luke 22.10
3 - Ephesians 2.10
4 - 1 Peter 1.19
5 - Romans 8.32