Practical Application of the Word of God
In less than two weeks, the ekklesia will be observing the Passover. This annual memorial, commanded according to scripture by God in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, is incredibly rich with spiritual meaning on so many levels that it would be impossible to cover them all in a lifetime as a human.
Each year as we approach this sobering, yet encouraging, observance, followed by the Night of Vigil and the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are reminded that the Passover is very personal for each one of us and that Christ’s had to die to make atonement for our sins individually.
Each year I am once again face to face with the hard cold reality that even if I had been the only human ever created by God, Jesus Christ would still have had to become flesh, be killed by my own two hands, and make atonement for my sins, uttering “Dad, forgive this solitary human because they have no idea what they are doing” just before He took His last breath.
That is incredibly personal and incredibly sobering for me to accept and think about – and is part of my deeply-reflective commitment to fully adhere to the terms of my baptism covenant with God and Jesus Christ to continually, with their help, repent of all my sins, and to, without reservation or hesitation, follow Jesus Christ, no matter what, wherever He goes.
I also do indepth studies of what is a logical, sequential, and big-picture within God’s word that reminds me why I observe the Passover each year.
I begin with the book of Hebrews, followed by the books of Isaiah and John (this year I added Ephesians between Isaiah and John, because the “put on” and “put off” statements in that book show deleavening and unleavening as part of the repentance process I will be engaged in with God and Jesus Christ the rest of my life, and I added Romans after John, because it lays out what a converting life looks like in practice).
Something that really resonated with me this year as I was studying the book of John was how many times Jesus Christ said “Follow Me.”
This is often said in just those two words, but it is just as often said by Christ to distinguish between His disciples and everybody else. Too often, unfortunately, these verses in John are cherry-picked among Christians to make a particular point.
A specific one is the one about loving each other to promote human fellowship and “unity,” but unity with God and Jesus Christ – meaning following them completely – is never mentioned as the absolute prerequisite to any human relationships.
I also noticed something else in the book of John this year that I had not really paid attention to before, and, in going back to the book of Matthew, I realize that the order of Christ’s last Passover observance is different than what I’ve experienced.
The order that Christ observed the Passover is as follows:
Jesus Christ clearly had a reason for the order in which He and the disciples took the Passover.
It was an example He specifically left for us to follow Him (Luke’s account was secondhand information, while Matthew and John’s were firsthand observations – they were there as part of the 12 disciples who took that Passover with Jesus Christ).
Yet, in the way the ekklesia, in general, observes the Passover, we do not follow Christ’s example, which is spelled out in order in Matthew 26 and John 13.
We do the footwashing part of the service first (which Christ did after they finished eating), and then all the other parts of the service modeling Christ’s example after footwashing.
Christ’s set the example in His order for a very practical physical reason (hygiene: who wants to touch food after washing somebody’s feet even if they are supposedly clean?) and for us to learn spiritual lessons.
Taking the bread and the wine first puts our primary focus where it belongs: on what God and Jesus Christ did for us (and, eventually, for every human being ever created) in order to reconcile us to God. That recognition and knowledge is designed to bring us to an attitude of humility before God and Christ and toward each other (this is an extension of our forgiving others as we have been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ’s atonement for our sins), which is the attitude exemplified by washing each other’s feet.
When we humans decide to change the order (and I don’t know who did or why, but I am troubled greatly by this), we are essentially dissing Jesus Christ and telling Him we’re going to decide how we do things instead of following Him and His example.
The distorted order in which most of the ekklesia observes the Passover, in fact, though, represents a larger spiritual error that plagues the body: the primary focus on loving each other (the 2nd great commandment) with loving God and Jesus Christ (the greatest commandment in the words of Jesus Christ Himself) either occasionally sidelined to a mere mention, but most often, ignored altogether in context.
When Jesus Christ says, “Follow Me,” and leaves a clear and straightforward example in the Passover observance of one way to do just that and we don’t follow Him, then we in the ekklesia are just like the Israelites in the Old Testament, doing what is right in our own eyes, and like the scribes and the Pharisees in the New Testament, who rejected their Savior in favor of their creation of their own traditions and commandments outside and way beyond scripture.
It would behoove each of us as members of the body of Christ to think deeply about this practice and some of the most sobering words – for me (I pray about this continually) – none of us should ever want to hear that Jesus Christ stated He would say to some who believed they were following Him when He returns to the earth to establish God’s kingdom here: