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Posts Tagged ‘lamb of God’

palms

Is Palm Sunday relevant today?

Many Christians view Palm Sunday as a quick time out before the clock expires on Lent.  Some see it as the start of Holy Week.  Others see it as a day that Sunday school children will dress up and lay green palm fronds on an altar prior to the worship service.  And some will see Jesus as a faithful and suffering servant, making his journey to the cross.

The answer will ultimately depend on how you view Jesus.

Palm Sunday is all about the final journey of Jesus to Jerusalem.  He enters with the reception of a hero.  Palm branches are cut from the trees so that people can wave them and lay them at the feet of Jesus.  The crowds shout with joy and excitement as he arrives.  Some hope for a military solution to their suffering and see Jesus as the right leader for a rebellion.  Some want a new government established where better leadership can be found.  Some desire an economic solution where wealth and riches will fix the needs of their nation.  And a portion of the crowd just desires deliverance through the Promised One of God, the Messiah.  They desire redemption, restoration, and salvation.  A Savior who will wipe away their tears and forgive their sins.

By the end of the week, many in the crowd will be disappointed.  They did not find the expected fix.  The crowd did not find the general, politician, or ruler they had desired.  Only a small portion of the crowd will follow Jesus to the end of the week and they too will ultimately leave his side.  But later, they will see an empty tomb and realize the truth.  God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, and whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.

Palm Sunday is relevant because of the cross.  As Jesus moves closer and closer to His own crucifixion, it demonstrates the magnitude of His love for us.  That is the reason we sing on Palm Sunday.  We sing to celebrate Jesus, the Lamb of God.  We celebrate the One who journeys into Jerusalem, knowing that it will take Him to a cross, but that it will take away the sins of the world.

If we see Jesus for all that He has done, there is reason to worship, sing, and rejoice just like the first century crowds in Jerusalem.  May our voices ring out in acclamation just like theirs, “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna, in the highest!”

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passover

As a military chaplain, I operate in a plural environment.  There are people without faith, people of different faiths, and a wide variety of Christians in uniform.  A great part of the job is meeting fellow believers.  They range from new Christians to stalwarts of faith.  Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, everyone needs a solid understanding of Passover because it shares so much about the nature of God.

In Exodus 11, God shares there will be one final plague in the land of Egypt.  Every family will experience death.  All the firstborn of Egypt will die.  Everyone from Pharaoh, to prisoners, even the cattle of the field, will feel the pain of loss.  While this sounds absolutely horrible, it is the only way that the Hebrews can escape slavery and eventually know the freedom of the Promised Land.

God provides a way of escape for His people so that they will not experience the coming curse.  They must select an unblemished lamb, sacrifice it, and put the blood of that lamb on the doorway.  The blood of this perfect lamb will be a sign for death to pass over the family.

Moses tells the people of Israel that all these things will happen quickly.  They must roast the lamb, eat it with unleavened bread, and bitter herbs.   They must also eat it with their clothing fastened, their sandals on, and walking sticks in hand as they prepare for a quick departure out of Egypt.

Today, Passover is remembered by holding a seder.  It is a ritual meal that remembers the night God delivered His people from slavery.  The Israelites had to eat the Passover meal in haste, but as a memorial meal people can recline and freely enjoy the meal as they remember and celebrate the mighty works of a faithful God.

During the seder, unleavened bread is eaten as a reminder the Hebrews left Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to let their bread dough rise.  Next they serve parsley and salt water.  Parsley is a green vegetable that represents life which is created by God.  It is usually dipped in salt water to remind people of the tears shed during captivity.  People also eat bitter herbs such as horseradish, radish, or onion as a reminder of the bitterness the Israelites suffered while they were slaves.  Next the story of Passover is retold and the youngest child at the table is asked four traditional questions from Exodus 12.

Since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, lamb is not consumed at Passover.  Instead, a roasted shank bone is on the table.  It represents the lamb whose blood marked the houses of the children of Israel.  Wine is shared during the meal.  It is a symbol of joy and the four-fold expression of the LORD’s promised deliverance.  Four cups are served throughout the seder: the Cup of Sanctification, the Cup of Judgment, the Cup of Redemption, and the Cup of Praise.  At the end of the meal, everyone sings or recites a Psalm from the Old Testament.  Traditionally, Psalms 115-118 are used.

The story of Passover and the deliverance of Israel, foreshadow a greater deliverance yet to come.  God sent Jesus to deliver mankind from the slavery of sin.  Jesus fulfilled the Law as the final sacrificial Lamb of God and provided redemption once and for all.  Death will pass over us because of the blood He shed on the cross.  Passover is important for everyone because it is a reminder of how God redeemed the Israelites from Egypt and how Jesus provided the ultimate redemption at Calvary.  As Christians, we continue to celebrate what has been accomplished.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, took away the sins of the world.

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