Malankara World

Passion Week (Holy Week)

Passover/Pesaha/Holy Last Supper

by Rev Fr. Dr. V.C.Varghese

Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacle were the three most important feasts on the Jewish religious calendar (Lev.23). As we all know that the feast of Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for both remembering and rejoicing. Thousands of pilgrims crowded in and around Jerusalem during the week of Passover celebration. According to the Antiquities of the Jews vi, ix (Josephus) about 250,500 paschal lambs were slaughtered during the Passover feast.

There is a chronological difference that the Gospel writers are contradicting each other. According to John 18:28, the Jewish leaders had not yet eaten the Passover, and the day Jesus was tried and condemned was "the preparation of the Passover" (John 19:14). There is a possible solution suggested by Robert Thomas and Stanley Gundry in "Harmony of the Gospel." The Jews at that time reckoned days in one of two ways: from sunset to sunset or from sunrise to sunrise. The first approach was traditionally Jewish (Gen.1:5, our Church follows the Syriac tradition same as Jewish), while the second was Roman. The synoptic Gospel writers used the Jewish way and John the Roman way. Apparently the Jewish leaders followed the Roman form of reckoning (John 18:28), while Jesus and the disciples followed the Jewish form. Our Lord was crucified on Passover at the time when the lambs were being slain, becoming a fulfillment of Old Testament type.

"So during the meal Jesus got up, removed his outer garment, and wrapped a towel around his waist. " (John13:4, CEV).

He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. (John13:4, KJV).

There were seven distinct actions were mentioned: rising, laying His garments aside, taking a towel, putting it about Him, pouring water, washing the feet, wiping with the towel. The scene was a summary of His Incarnation. Rising up from the Heavenly Banquet in intimate union of the nature with the Father, He laid aside the garment of His glory wrapped about His Divinity the towel of human nature which He took from Mary, poured the laver of regenation which is His Blood shed on the Cross to redeem men, and began to washing the souls of His disciples and followers throu8gh the merit of His death, Resurrection and Ascension (read Philippines 2:6-8). (Life of Christ: F.J. Sheen).

The Passover feast opened with a prayer of thanksgiving, followed by the drinking of the first of four cups of wine mixed with water. Next they ate the bitter herbs and sang Psalms 113-114. Then They drink the second cup of wine and began eating the roasted lamb and the unleavened bread. After drinking the third cup of wine, they sang Psalms 115-118; and then the fourth cup passed among them. The following are the four cups of wine served at the Passover with a meal that symbolizes the tears and suffering of the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.

(1) The first cup is the cup of Remembrance.

(2) The second cup is the cup of Redemption.

(3) The third cup is the cup of Salvation.

(4) The fourth cup is the cup of Messiah.

When Jesus and His disciples came to the final cup during their celebration of the Passover, Jesus refused to drink from the Messiah's cup. He took it gave thanks, and told His disciples, "Take this and divide it among yourselves: for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luke 22:17-18) (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah : Alfred Edersheim). Since the Jews rejected their Messiah, Jesus outrightly rejected them by not drinking from the cup of the Messiah. It is likely that the time of the fourth cup of wine, Jesus instituted the Eucharist.

The Holy Last Supper encourages us to look back with love and adoration to what He did for us on the cross and look forward with hope and anticipation to His coming again. Since we must be careful not to come to the Lord's table with known sin in our lives, the Holy Supper should also be an occasion for looking within, examining our hearts, and confessing our sins (1Cor. 11:27-32).

See Also:

Jesus, the Passover Lamb
Some say Jesus selecting Palm Sunday, his triumphal entry to Jerusalem to present himself as the Passover lamb and He needed them to inspect so that they could see Him spotless and perfect. He is also the judge, the King and the Messiah, who died, resurrected and ascended.

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