Three and half thousand years ago in Egypt, God chose Moses to lead His people out of slavery. The Israelites had been there for four hundred years suffering under the yoke of the Pharaohs. Their lives belonged to Pharoah from the moment they were born. They served, died, and lived under his rule and law. When God heard the cries of his people, who he had made a covenant with through their forefathers, He launched His plan to redeem them in order that they could be set free, free to worship and serve their true sovereign Lord, and to serve and live under the rule and law of the One True God. They were to inherit the blessing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the promises that God had made with them.
Egypt, though, was a proud and mighty kingdom completely unwilling to give up their slaves without a fight. Thus, ten plagues descended upon Egypt by the hand of God. These plagues would ruin the land and waters causing a tremendous amount of suffering. This nation would see the light of the heavens completely veiled for three days. Yet, Pharoah the god-king of the Egyptians was resolute in his determination to keep God’s people as his own. Then it would come, the tenth and worst plague of them all. The plague of the first born—what would be remembered by the Jews as the Passover. This is where each Israelite household was commanded to take the blood of an unblemished year-old lamb and sacrifice it, spreading the blood on the doorframes of their houses. For when the Angel of the Lord came, he struck down every firstborn son in the land, except those who had the blood of the lamb on their door frames.
No house where the blood of the lamb was absent was spared, not even that of Pharoah’s own household. After this calamity, Pharaoh’s will was finally broken and the people of Israel were set free from bondage. By the blood of lambs and the Hand of God, finally the nation of Israel was free to serve the Lord. The Lord commanded the people of Israel to always remember this day (see Exodus 12:24-27).
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ Then the people bowed down and worshiped.”
Fast forward over a thousand years, and Jesus is with his disciples. They’re in an upper room in the city of Jerusalem. The reason for them being there, at least from the disciples’ perspectives, is to follow the commandments found in the Old Testament, to remember and celebrate the Passover of the Lord. We pick up the story in Matthew 26:26-29:
Matthew 26:26-28 26 “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' 27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'”
What perhaps is obscured to the disciples at that moment becomes clear to us through the context of scripture. What they are celebrating, the Passover, was a foreshadow of what is being fulfilled before their very eyes—that God Himself would give His only begotten son to die on their behalf. His blood and His body would allow God to “pass over” the sin that people committed against God. Through this covenant of which Jesus is enacting, a people who were not a people become the people of God, set free to serve the Lord, and released from the bondage of Sin and the power of death. The New Testament details this relationship between the old and new covenants through the following verses:
“11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (emphasis added)
1 Corinthians 5:7
“7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
I Peter 2:9-10
“9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
(Now, we as Christians may enter this covenant that Jesus authored, not by what we have done to merit mercy or earn the favor of God but only by grace through faith in Christ alone.)
8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”
(This salvation accomplished By Christ is sufficient to save us from both the consequences of sin as well as the power it has to enslave us.)
1“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh.”
We as people of this covenant, by faith in Christ, are called to remember what He has done for us by partaking in communion. Through communion, we remember what has redeemed us—the blood and body of Christ. We remember what He has saved us from—the chains of sin and its power death. We also remember what we have been saved to—eternal life, a right relationship with God, and to His coming Kingdom. Which brings us to our last verse…
I Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.