Passover and communion

This morning I read again the account of the first Passover in Exodus 12.  As Jesus makes clear (Mt. 26:2, 18-19; Lk. 22:15; see also 1 Cor. 5:7), there are obvious connections between the Jewish festival and the Christian church’s ordinance of communion.

After reading the biblical account, I further refreshed my mind about the glory of this event by reading some brief portions from Leon Morris’s outstanding work, The Atonement.  There he recounts at some length the differences and similarities between the Jewish and Christian practices, and part of his summary is as follows:

Passover may not be the leading New Testament category by which to interpret the atonement, but it is certainly one of the subordinate strands in New Testament thinking. What the Passover sacrifice signified for the Jews, that and more Christ’s sacrifice has done for the Christians. It emphasizes the thought of deliverance, deliverance from a powerful enemy. Because Jesus died as a Passover sacrifice those who trust in him are no longer subject to the forces of evil. They have been delivered. They are free.

And Passover reminds us that we are members one of another. Passover was a corporate observance, a feast to be celebrated in the company of others. Both in the Old Testament and in contemporary Judaism the Passover was to be observed in companies. The observance stressed the truth that God’s salvation is not a purely individual experience. The deliverance from Egypt marked the birth of a nation, the emergence of the people of God. The deliverance on the cross marked the emergence of the true Israel, the people of God in more than a merely national sense. Now the people of God are plainly seen as all those who have been delivered by Christ, from whatever nation they may come. They are no longer slaves to sin. They belong to God and to one another in the fellowship of the redeemed people of God, for ‘Christ our passover is sacrificed for us’ (1 Cor. 5:7, AV).

I highly recommend The Atonement for a more complete understanding not only of the Passover, but for a broader understanding of the work of Christ on the cross as well.

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