Maundy Thursday Exodus 12.1-14
2013.3.28 1 Cor 11.23-32
St John's Ev LC, Victor, IA St John 13.1-15
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Feast of the Passover. For Israel, it was to be the beginning of months, the beginning of the yearly cycle, the beginning of their new life of freedom. They weren't going to be slaves anymore. God was going to do that. He would free them. He would give them this new life.
And like any new adventure, the first big hurtle to overcome is: “well, what now?” The prospect of new adventures is exciting and exhilarating; but can also be scary as you step out into the unknown.
Israel was stepping out into the unknown. Nine plagues were over with, the tenth and worst was about to happen. It shouldn't have gotten to this point. What devastation would take place as the angel of death would fly over all of Egypt and kill all the first born animals and children...except for those of the Israelites, who had put the blood of the lamb on the doorpost.
Outside the buildings: hysteria, confusion, a quite horrific scene. Inside, the Passover meal was taking place. Those who were once so brutally treated by Pharaoh, enslaved by Pharaoh, who were in a land that was not their own, after 450 years, finally, / they would be free.
They looked forward to this new life of freedom, this new adventure. It was exciting and exhilarating. But before they were released, God would give them the first steps on their journey. It was God's rescue, after all, so He would provide them with details of their escape, answer the first and hardest question for them: “what now?”
Eat. That's “what now”.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight...This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”
So, not just “eat,” but Feast! Begin your new life of freedom with the glorious and joyful celebration of a Feast.
But, you know dearly beloved, it wasn't just the Israelites who were slaves. In fact, all of humanity was in slavery. The Egyptian slavery was only one manifestation, one example of this other, broader, more horrific slavery. That slavery had been going on for far more than 450 years, it had been the result of something which took place not long after the world was created.
I am speaking of humanities slavery to sin and death. Humanity needed to be set free. And so, about 4000 years after the Fall into sin and slavery, God came to save. He alone could do it. No human messenger would do; a prophet greater than Moses was needed. He sent His Son, Jesus. He sent Him for the express purpose of saving humanity, of freeing us from our slavery to sin and death.
How exciting, how exhilarating. God's people were looking forward to this new life of freedom, this new adventure out from under the brutal treatment by Satan. / But / “what now”? All we had known was slavery. What do we do now?
And the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed [the very night before He would die on the cross and rescue us from our Pharaoh, Satan] He took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, don't just “eat”; Feast! For this Holy Supper is “the Feast of Victory for our God, for worthy is Christ the Lamb who was slain, whose blood set us free to be people of God...for the Lamb who was slain has begun His reign.”
It is / the beginning / again. For the people of God, just as for the people of Israel, the beginning of the new life, the beginning of the yearly and weekly cycle of Easter celebrations, the beginning of freedom, / is a Feast. But not just a joyous celebration with friends and family. We are invited to join our Lord Jesus Himself in this eternal meal. He is Himself the host, and He the Food. Nothing else would do.
So, you Baptized, that is, you who have been freed to be people of God, who have been joined to our Lord's death and resurrection, come / and on this holy night, the same night in which our Lord was betrayed into the hands of sinful men, / let us remember Him by doing what He commanded us to do. “Do this,” He said, “in remembrance of me.” This is God's doing. He has freed you to enjoy this new new life of freedom in Him / by Feasting. It is a first step / and an eternal step.
In the name of +Jesus. Amen.