Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A New Passover

Every now and then, a righteous king of God's people would discover anew the book of the Law that Moses left, have it read to him, and then tear his clothes at the realization of how far his people had fallen from their Lord. Often, he would then try to reclaim some of the people's lost righteousness, usually by starting with sacrifices and festivals. 

Which is how God's people came to celebrate Passover in the time of Josiah. 

But this Passover was different than other Passovers in one fundamental way, which both reclaims the festival and foreshadows it. At this Passover, Josiah and his officials donated the offerings for all of the people. 

The Passover offering was traditionally sacrificed at home and eaten as a family. If a family was too small for a full offering, they would join with a neighboring family and split one, so that no part of the Passover went to waste. And to waste it would have gone because the day after the Passover, the people would be on the move, and nobody wants to be carrying leftover leg of lamb with them. It's, well, messy. 

For years, this is how Israel celebrated the Passover. Each man in his own home with his own family and with his neighbors, providing his own sacrifice, his own offering, his own prayer. They would mark it on their door frames, just as they had done in the beginning, letting the blood of the sacrifice mark their faith. 

But in the time of Josiah, it is the king who provides the offering for everyone and the people come to eat of it. 

And you're thinking, okay, but why does that matter? What's the point? If the people are celebrating the Passover, that's a good thing. Why nitpick about who does the offering? 

Because in a few thousand years, this is going to come up again. This time, in an Upper Room. 

Josiah's offering enabled the people to celebrate the Passover. It invited and welcomed them to the festival and to the remembrance of God. And it was the first time that the king had done such a thing. But then Jesus comes along and with His disciples in an Upper Room, the King provides the Passover again. And this time, that becomes the pattern.

The Kingdom is often described as a feast to which we are all invited, and this is the feast. Many of us celebrate this every week in the form of Communion or Eucharist, the Last Supper. We recognize and remember this Passover that Jesus celebrated by providing it for His disciples and commanding it to us - do this in remembrance. That's what the Passover has always been about. 

So it's cool when you read the story in 2 Chronicles of Josiah and his officials offering the Passover for all the people because it gives the people back something they had missed, but it points us forward to a time when that will become the norm for the feast. When it will always be offered by the King. It's cool. It's just cool. How is that not cool? 

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