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Observing Passover

Most Christians will profess that they mean to follow Jesus and obey Him Ė after all, they will probably know that Jesus said ďYou are My friends if you do whatever I command youĒ (Jn 15:14). But when it comes to what they actually do, there are some serious gaps in their obedience.

Passover is one of them.

Most believers overlook the fact that Jesus commanded us to keep the Passover just as He did. Yet it's in all four gospels and Paulís first letter to the Corinthians (e.g. Lk 22:8,19; 1 Cor 5:7,8). Instead of following Jesusí clear example, they follow errant Church tradition like blind sheep. Yet, there should be no doubt.

Notice Matthewís account. He states that the disciples had asked Jesus where He wanted them to make preparations to keep the Passover. Jesus told them where they would be keeping Passover, and they did as He said (Matt 26:17-19).

Virtually the same account appears in Markís gospel (Mark 14:12-16). It quite clearly says that they were all observing the Passover, as it does in Luke 22:8-15.

Remember, this was now no longer under the Old Covenant duration. That epoch had expired when John died (Matt 11:13). This was now part of the era of the New Covenant, which is why Jesus instituted the new Passover symbols of unleavened bread and wine during the ceremony (Matt 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20).

He didn't do away with Passover and tell them to observe something else. He didn't institute a ĎLordís Supperí. [The complete truth about this subject is provided in our small booklet Passover and Pentecost Ė Answers To Basic Questions.]

In Johnís gospel we find another command from Jesus about observing Passover. That was to do with footwashing. Itís in John 13:14. So, we obey what Jesus said. There are lessons to be learned in the doing.

I was asked recently if we had anything written giving guidelines for keeping the Passover, so I thought it would be good if I summarised for others a basic outline of what we do. That is not to say that you should copy us, because specifics can vary from country to country, and even from person to person, depending upon what you feel is appropriate to honour Jesus and commemorate His death, as He said on the Passover. It is up to you how you go about it, but I thought this outline would help.

The short article Principles of True Worship explains why it is ideal to get away from set ritual and to vary the proceedings, so that the occasion doesnít lose any of its uniqueness. We try to vary the particulars each year.

Jesus gives us so much latitude to decide individually within the guidelines He has commanded.

Those guidelines are very simple:

1) Teaching, to be reminded of the meaning of the occasion. We read poignant passages of Scripture, usually with very little added comment.

2) Footwashing, as mentioned in John 13.

3) Having a meal together, which can employ meaningful emblems of lamb, bitter herbs, etc., if you want. Luke 22:13-16. Matt 26:19-26.

4) Partaking  of unleavened bread, depicting Jesus' broken body to pay the price of our sins that we can be healed. Matt 26:26; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:23-24.

5) Sharing the glass of red wine (not merely grape juice Ė that's not bitter, nor what Jesus took) to remind us of the blood He poured out for us. Matt 26:27-28; Luke 22:17,20.

We all take it in turns to drink from one glass of wine, which portrays the singularity of the body and our part in that whole.

6) Prayer as is fitting.

7) More scripture reading. See Jesus' extensive discourse in John 13-17 which was spoken at this last Passover meal. Some of that can be read, if you want, as you feel it is appropriate.

8) Finally, we sing praise. Matthew 26:30. Something like the praise songs below.


All I once held dear , built my life upon
All this world reveres, and wars to own
All I once thought gain, I have counted loss;
Spent and worthless now, compared to this

Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You,
There is no greater thing
Youíre my all, Youíre the best
Youíre my joy, my righteousness
And I love You Lord
Love You, Lord.

All my heartís desire is to know You more
To be found in You, and known as Yours
To possess by faith what I could not earn
All-surpassing gift of righteousness

Oh to know the power of Your risen life
And to know You in Your sufferings
To become like You in Your death my Lord
So with You to live and never die.

[Composed by Graham Kendrick, 1993, Make Way Music.]


Jesus Christ, I think upon Your sacrifice
You became nothing, poured out to death
Many times Iíve wondered at Your gift of life
And Iím in that place once again.

And once again I look upon the cross where You died
Iím humbled by Your mercy and Iím broken inside
Once again I thank You, once again I pour out my life

Now You are exalted to the highest place
King of the heavens where one day Iíll bow
But for now, I marvel at this saving grace
And Iím full of praise once again, Iím full of praise once again.

[Composed by Graham Kendrick, 1993, Make Way Music.]


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