Was Passover replaced by the Last Supper?

Posted: April 15, 2016 in Christian Living, Holidays
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Most Christians think of the “Last Supper” as more of a symbolic communion than a feast meal. Because of this, many often miss out on the full meaning of the Passover and the additional meaning Jesus gave to it.

Jesus kept Passover as a child and an adult. (Luke 2:41-43; Mark 14:12-26; John 12:12) Mark 14:12 shows that the last supper was not a memorial observance, but a Passover meal. “his disciples said to him, where do you want us to go and prepare, that you may eat the Passover.” (cf. Matthew 26; Luke 22)

If Passover was replaced with the Last Supper, shouldn’t it also be commemorated once a year? Because once a year on the anniversary date of Jesus’ death would be more consistent with the belief that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper at the time of the Jewish Passover.

Many believe that Passover is a Jewish festival made only for Jews. And some even teach that every Jew who has become a Christian, should no longer celebrate these very important festivals. Because they believe that the Lord’s Supper replaced the annual feast days, they say that no Christian should observe the Jewish Passover and that the death of Jesus Christ is the only event, which Christians should memorialize.

But Scripture states that Passover, and ALL the feasts that are celebrated once a year are God’s feasts. In Leviticus 23 we read, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’ “ (Emphasis mine)

These are God’s feasts, NOT just Jewish feasts!

“And a mixed multitude went up also with them…” (Exodus 12:38) Some of these “mixed multitude” were Egyptians, and some of other nations that had resided in Egypt, and who, for various reasons, chose to go along with the children of Israel. In doing so, the mixed multitude became part of the children of Israel—And were recognized as such by Moses and by God.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

“If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:48-49)

“You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” (Ezekiel 47:22)

“Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-13)

Did Jesus and his disciples observe Passover or the Last Supper?

Passover associates 4 or 5 cups of wine, not just one. In Luke’s account of this supper the wine is taken at least twice; at the beginning and end of the meal. It is most likely that the ‘last cup of wine’ is associated with the third Passover cup, the cup of  redemption, (Exodus 6.6) associated with the coming of Elijah and the expectation of the coming of the Messiah. The fourth cup—the cup of consummation, Jesus declined to drink (Matthew 26.29; Mark 14.25; because between the third and fourth cups he would not drink until his return and consummation of his kingdom.

‘Dipping in the bowl’ in Matthew 26:23 and in Mark 14:20 may refer to the dipping of bitter herbs in either water or wine during the Passover Seder.

The meal concluded with the singing of hymns (Matthew 26.30; Mark 14:26), possibly the second half of the Hallel, (Psalms 113-118) traditionally associated with Passover.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church these words: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:7-8)

Notice, Paul said plainly enough, “Let us KEEP THE FESTIVAL” Not only did Paul in this verse exhort the Corinthians—many of whom were Gentile believers—to observe this Passover festival season, but he himself did so, setting them an example. Keeping the festival of Passover and Matzah symbolizes living the Christian life in holy dedication to God. That is why Paul uses the illustration of leaven when writing to the Corinthian Church.

What other scholars say about this:

“The construction of the Greek verb translated “let us keep the feast” is called horatory subjunctive, which is commonly used to exhort or command oneself and one’s associates. This use of the subjunctive is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided.” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 464)

“Some go to great lengths to attempt to sidestep this clear command to “keep the feast” by alleging that the expression is in some way figurative, since he uses other figurative language in this section of Scripture. But the reason he gives to “keep the Feast” is because “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us.” Christ’s sacrifice was a literal event; so is keeping the festival that relates to His sacrifice. And a cardinal rule of interpreting the Bible is to prefer the simple, obvious meaning.” ( Edward W. Goodrick, Do It Yourself Hebrew and Greek, p. 12:1 )

Jehovah Witnesses claim to know exactly the date when Jesus Christ introduced the Last Supper.

According the Jehovah Witness website, “Jesus Christ instituted the Memorial of his death (the Lord’s evening meal or Supper) on Nisan 14, according to the biblical Jewish calendar that was common in the first century. Jesus Christ also died on Nisan 14 (in the afternoon about three o’clock). Why that? Because in the first century the Jewish day began at sundown and extended until the following sundown. So Jesus Christ died exactly on the same Jewish calendar day. Jesus instituted the Memorial of his death after sundown on Nisan 14, at the beginning of this day.”

But when is Nisan 14 in our calendar? Jehovah Witnesses claim it was March 23, 2016. But the14th of Nisan in 2016, (Hebrew calendar 5776) begins at sundown on April 22, 2016 not March 23rd. March 23, 2016 is the 13th of Adar II and is the date that Purim begins. (http://www.hebcal.com/hebcal/?year=2016&v=1&month=x&yt=G&nx=on&o=on&vis=on&d=on&c=off&maj=on&min=on&mod=on)

It is interesting that Hebrews 11:28 regards Moses’ keeping of the Passover as an act of faith, not ritual. It was observed in direct trust in God’s means of salvation from Egypt—however illogical it may have seemed at the time.

Thus, the “last supper” was not a memorial symbolized with just the breaking of bread and drinking wine, but a full feast meal—not only looking back on the exodus, but also looking forward to the crucifixion and ultimately towards the second coming of Jesus and the consummation of the messianic kingdom. (cf. Isaiah 25:6-9)

As such, the early church continued to observe it, but eventually exchanging God’s Agape (love) feast for the more symbolic last supper/eucharist. (Perhaps because of the kind of excess mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22)

In the end, the Agape was forgotten and the eucharist became more formal, central and even ‘magical’ in the later doctrine of transubstantiation. The Passover symbolism is mostly lost on gentile believers. Jesus was the ultimate Passover lamb, (1 Corinthians 5:7) and as such died with all his bones intact. (cf. Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20)

God’s Passover feast is considered by some to be outdated history. But the treasuring of our freedom through education and enactment is a joyful occasion.

Why does the Church emphasize the morbid death of Christ through the symbolic last supper/eucharist more than his joyous resurrection or return? Indeed, the purpose of Passover is a way of proclaiming our redemption and freedom from the bondage of sin through the sacrificial blood of the Lamb of God!

NEXT YEAR IN THE NEW JERUSALEM!

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