Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 9-3-23 “Passover and Communion”

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Exodus 12:1-14

All countries in the world have Holidays to celebrate; holydays are special days for important events to be remembered. Israel is not an exception. They have annual holidays, which we can find listed in Leviticus chapter 23.

Holidays were created to accomplish some purposes. Among these purposes are, keep us in touch with our history. They remind us of the great things men and women have done to shape us as who we are as a nation. Holidays give us identity and unity. I would say that the most significant Holiday for any country is the celebration of their independence. The day they were able to decide for themselves.

The scripture we read from Exodus is the institution of the first and most important Holiday for the Hebrew People, The Passover. This Holiday is more than blood, lamb, sacrifice and meal; it is a celebration of a new beginning, freedom, and life. And that is the reason why this holiday must be celebrated in community for all generations.   

Passover is a new Beginning. Verse 2, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.” However, Passover is more than the first day of 365 days of a year. It is the celebration of a New Beginning. Passover is a celebration of hope. Hope that the old, the ugly, and the bad will stay behind. Passover marks a new beginning for Israel. In this new beginning, they will not be slaves anymore; they will no longer be foreigners; God will provide freedom, milk, honey, and Land.  

 Verse 3, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” You see, Passover is to be celebrated in community, in family, all united by a lamb, by a meal. And what if one family is too small to share a whole lamb, or too poor to have a lamb? Verse 4 says, “And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.” If they were too small or poor, they could gather with others and share with their nearest neighbor. Even in moments of crisis, especially in those moments of crisis like those Israel was living during the first Passover, there is a call to care for one another and look out for those on the margins. No one has to be left out. Passover Celebration began with the Divine call of coming together for this crucial moment, for this journey toward a new life.

In verse 7, God said to Moses, “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.” And continues in verse 13, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Therefore, Passover is also a celebration of life; God was preserving all the firstborn of Israel.

The blood of that lamb made the difference between life and death. The blood served as a sign for the Israelites, but more importantly, a sign for Yahweh, who will see the blood and pass over each Israelite house. Can you imagine all the Hebrew parents hearing the Egyptians’ cry and lamenting for their children’s death? Can you imagine the relief they felt, the gratitude toward God.?

Verse 11, “This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.” They must eat and be ready to leave. To leave toward a new beginning, ready to go toward the realization of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Verse 14, “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come, you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.” After about 3500-years, Passover remains a central celebration in Judaism to this day. The Passover was and is for Israel a call to worship God for as long as they are His people. They are called to worship God for all the blessing they received. They were slaves and God gave them freedom; they were oppressed, and God destroy their oppressors. Passover was and is a call to leave the old life and embrace the new life God has prepared for them. All this is in the ritual, words, and ideas that the Passover has come to represent.

When Jesus sat with his disciples in the Upper Room, Israel had celebrated Passover for almost 1,500 years in commemoration of this saving act of God. That night, as it is related in the Synoptic Gospels. The night before his crucifixion Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples and gave this meal a new meaning; He passed on his disciples a new celebration. That night they celebrated the fulfillment of Passover. In this fulfillment, Jesus -no Moses- is the Great Deliverer; he is The Lamb of God; he is the payment for our sins; his blood and sacrifice bring life and salvation.

Today, when we celebrate communion, I will say, “do this in remembrance of me.” With these words, we will commemorate what Jesus did for us, not only his sacrifice and death; we will remember the reason and the benefits of his suffering and death. And with the words, “this is my body broken for you, and this is my blood poured out for you, we will announce a new beginning. Why, because, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Jesus is our Alpha, our new beginning. Today when we take communion, our old life and sin we have committed will be cleaned with the blood of Jesus; take that into account when you eat and drink.

Holy Communion is also a celebration of our freedom. John 8:36 says, “So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Remember, we do not serve this world anymore; Jesus is our Deliverer; he called us out from the darkness of this world to his wonderful light. Therefore, if Jesus set us free, if he called us to his light, we are light to this world. Let us the live as children of light. As Ephesians 5:8 reminds us.

Communion is a celebration of life, John 5:24 says, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes, him who sent me, has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” When we take communion today, we will commemorate that Jesus died for us. We will also celebrate the benefit of that death: our eternal life.

Communion is a long-lasting ordinance, and we will celebrate it even in heaven. In Matthew 26:29, Jesus say, “I tell you: I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” It will be a day, sisters, and brothers, when all the redeemed by the Lamb’s blood, will be together in heavens celebrating. Until that day comes, let us celebrate our new life in Christ, our freedom, and our hope.

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