Concretized Christianity

Practical Application of the Word of God

“Follow Me:” The Order in Which Christ Observed His Last Passover

Do we follow Jesus Christ in ALL things?

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:

  • During supper, Christ first took bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples to eat, symbolizing His body (Matthew 26:26)
  • During supper, Christ next took wine and gave it to His disciples to drink, symbolizing His blood (Matthew 26:27-28)
  • After supper, Christ washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:2-16) and explained to them why He had washed their feet
  • After Christ washed His disciples’ feet, He warned them, encouraged them, and comforted them about what was about to happen to Him (His disciples, of course, didn’t really comprehend at the time what He was saying and why, as John makes clear) (John 14, John 15, and John 16)
  • After this discourse, Christ prays His final prayer with the disciples (John 17)
  • Before Christ and the disciples leave the room where they have taken the Passover, they sing a hymn (Matthew 26:30)

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:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Matthew 7:21-23

 

 

 

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2 comments on ““Follow Me:” The Order in Which Christ Observed His Last Passover

  1. John D Carmack
    April 10, 2016

    Well, I am going to respectfully disagree, and I go into some of the reasons on the wiki article I just finished, along with a pointer to a better reference. However, I do believe the timing of the events are ambiguous enough, and again I point out some of the reasons why, that rational people can still disagree.

    What I really do want to comment on, though, is the statement “Luke’s account was secondhand information”. That might well be, but he has been exonerated as quite the historian by several commentators. Furthermore, his early walk before Paul became converted was a close association with Peter, which is evident by many statements he made.

    “1 Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.”

    I think the statement setting him apart as not being an eye witness is not a wise one, and it can lead one down the road to rejecting the inspiration and authority of canonization. I believe that God intended it to be part of the narrative, and, therefore, is just as inspired as the other three narratives.

    • ccbible11
      April 11, 2016

      Thanks for your comments, John. I certainly didn’t intend to give the impression that the Bible, in its entirety is not the divinely-inspired word of God when referring to Luke’s account as not being consistent with the Passover as laid out by Matthew 26 and John 13-17.

      I did read your article and it was very well done.

      And we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable. I continue to take this and all the other concerning things – because my heartfelt desire is to serve God and follow Jesus Christ faithfully in all things, as I know yours is too – to God and ask Him to lead me and guide me every step of the way, not allowing me to be blind and to stumble.

      Faith, as we’ve discussed, is the critical element that is often being tested by God when these things arise. And, in faith, I will take the Passover in the manner of the congregation that I will observe it with does.

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