PASSOVER SERVICE

 

OPENING COMMENTS

 The service begins without prayer.

 Explain that this service is a very sobering occasion because we are reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.  It is also, however, a most encouraging service because it reveals the love of God for His people.  We are given this annual reminder of the glorious victory over sin that is ours because of the sacrifice of the only begotten Son of God.  Point out that those who participate in the service are expressing their faith in the death of Jesus Christ on their behalf, and renewing their commitment to let Christ live His life in them.

 Read and expound the following Scriptures.  You may add emphasis and examples where appropriate.

1 Corinthians 11:23-30.  A summary of the New Testament Passover.

1 Cor 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
1 Cor 11:24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
1 Cor 11:25 In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
1 Cor 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.
1 Cor 11:27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
1 Cor 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
1 Cor 11:29 For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly.
1 Cor 11:30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

 

 John 6:32-58 (All).   Explain that these verses show that Christ came in the flesh and willingly gave His life to pay the penalty for our sins.  Point out that both the eating and drinking are directly associated with eternal life.

 John 6:32 Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.
John 6:33 "For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world."
John 6:34 They said therefore to Him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread."
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
John 6:36 "But I said to you, that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.
John 6:37 "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
John 6:39 "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
John 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."
John 6:41 The Jews therefore were grumbling about Him, because He said, "I am the bread that came down out of heaven."
John 6:42 And they were saying, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, 'I have come down out of heaven'?"
John 6:43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Do not grumble among yourselves.
John 6:44 "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:45 "It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.
John 6:46 "Not that any man has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.
John 6:47 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
John 6:48 "I am the bread of life.
John 6:49 "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
John 6:50 "This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.
John 6:51 "I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh."
John 6:52 The Jews therefore began to argue with one another, saying, "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"
John 6:53 Jesus therefore said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
John 6:54 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
John 6:55 "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
John 6:56 "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
John 6:57 "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.
John 6:58 "This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever."
 

 

THE BREAD

 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.   Emphasize that we become one Body by all partaking of the bread of life, Jesus Christ;  that Christ lives His life in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, making us part of the ONE BODY OF CHRIST—HIS CHURCH, THE BEGOTTEN FAMILY OF GOD.  The small piece of unleavened bread we eat symbolizes Jesus’ body broken for our sins.

 1 Peter 2:20-24.    Note here that the context refers to an attitude of love toward others.  Christ’s suffering set an example for all Christians, that we should suffer for one another.  He willingly suffered tremendous pain and agony in the flesh in order that mankind might ultimately be released from the suffering that results from any and all sin.  Christ’s stripes were a part of His total, perfect sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins.  Eating this unleavened bread at the Passover service demonstrates our total COMMITMENT TO GOD AND HIS WAY OF LIFE.

 Remove the napkin from the bread on the tray (or trays) and pray over it, asking God to bless it as a symbol of Christ’s body, broken for us.  This prayer should include the fact that Christ suffered for us and we must be willing to suffer as He did for righteousness’ sake.  Thank God for His love and all His mercies toward us.  Ask God to give us His mind and attitude of service, as members of the Body of Christ.  Then break the bread into small bits on the trays and have the deacons pass them to everyone.  After being served, each person should quietly and solemnly eat the small piece of bread.  The deacons should take a piece of bread from the tray they are passing.

 

THE WINE

 Matthew 26:27-28

Hebrews 9:11-15

1 John 1:7

(Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:20-22 if desired.)

 Then uncover and pray over the wine, giving thanks and asking God to bless it to this sacred use as the symbol of Christ’s blood, shed for the remission of our sins.  Thank God for giving us His Son to die for us, washing us clean that we might be reconciled to God.  Thank Him for Christ’s willingness to submit to His Father’s will, even unto death.  Then have the deacons serve the wine.  Each member should take a glass and quietly and reverently drink it.   It is a renewal of your acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins.  The deacons should then collect the glasses on the tray.  After they are returned, cover them and the unused bread again with the napkin.

 

FOOTWASHING

 John 13:1-17.   Expound these verses to explain the attitude of humility and service Christ Himself displayed as an example to true Christians.  He also then commanded us to do likewise.

Footwashing cannot forgive sin.  Baptism in Jesus Christ can--and that is what it represents in the Passover service!

 We are ALWAYS to put God first, man second in all aspects of our lives.  Why should Passover be any different?  Attention to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice is the central theme of Passover.  After that comes our relationship with man. 

 The Ten Commandments are in this order.  The first four directly represent our relationship with God, the last six our relationship with man.  The summary Christ gave in Matthew 22:37-40 is the same:

---Explanation

Luke and John dovetail perfectly on this matter.  John picks it up right where Luke left off!  John did not need to repeat what all the others had said about the Passover service—he just had to tie up the last loose end!  He had already mentioned the correct symbols in John 6, so why repeat them here? All he needed was to add what had been left out by the others and then give a detailed account of Christ’s final lesson to the disciples.  The main theme of that lesson was to love one another.  Not to fight and war, but love God above all, and love man as God’s creation.

 Luke left off his account having shown Judas was still at the table after the bread and wine, followed by an argument as to who was the greatest.  The story flows beautifully with no “contradictions” when we understand John started the story in John 13 right where Luke left off and where he himself left off in John 6.

 Notice John 13:1:  Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;

3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

 Notice a movement in time element in these verses.  It starts with the time just before Passover and moves to Jesus knowing “His hour had come.”  “Hour” here has to mean the time had come to begin all these events, obviously not the actual hour of His death.  From there the time moves to supper-time.  “Supper being ended” is a poor translation.  “Supper being served” or “during supper” is more the force of the Greek. 

 The footwashing issue does not depend on “supper being ended” in this verse to show the footwashing occurred after the bread and wine.  There is an undetermined movement of time from verse two to verse four.  Supper was in process in verse two.  In verse 4 “He riseth from supper.”  According to Matthew and Mark, the institution of the bread and wine occurred AS they were eating.  Luke adds the detail that the symbol of the bread, as his body, was addressed, and then AFTER supper, the wine as His blood.  It would seem the bread might have been sanctified just as supper was drawing to a close and the wine AT the close.  Remember,  Paul stated clearly that Jesus administered the bread and wine AFTER He had supped.

 The footwashing could NOT have occurred as they came into the room with dusty feet.  In John 13:4, Jesus rose FROM supper.  That language sounds as if supper was ending or had just ended when Jesus began to do the footwashing.  Matthew and Mark say it was during supper.  Luke does not place a specific time during the meal regarding the bread, but clearly states the wine was after.

 The key to understanding is Luke’s testimony—that Judas was still at the table AFTER supper and AFTER the changing of the symbols; still there for the B&W. 

 Judas left after the footwashing, with no break in context, according to John.  Therefore,   the footwashing absolutely HAD to come after the B&W!  Otherwise, we have to declare Luke’s account in error—which is just what some have done to stick to the tradition of putting the footwashing first in the Passover service.  Is it really better to discredit Luke or to change our practice to fit scripture?  ALL scripture is profitable for doctrine…

Which way would you rather face Christ some day?  “I think Luke had it all wrong” or “I changed my practice to conform to Luke’s account in your Word of the Passover service.”   Which seems safer?

 What about the symbolism of baptism in John’s account?

  John 13:5-11:  After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.

6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?

7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.

10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.

 There is no reference whatsoever to baptism in these verses!  The only uncleanness here was in the mind of the betrayer, Judas.  A general cleansing such as forgiveness of sins at baptism is not the issue.  The issue here is that Jesus was willing to wash the feet of His betrayer and wanted the rest of the disciples to have the same attitude toward one another—love your enemy!

  Jesus did not wash Peter’s whole body, that is, immerse him.  The footwashing had to do with attitude.  The first attitude was that of Judas who had just partaken of the bread and wine, but did not repent, so was unclean, or unworthy as Paul put it in I Cor. 11.  It is possible for us to take the Passover in a wrong attitude and drink death to ourselves as Paul explained.  Judas did just that, dying in shame by hanging himself shortly thereafter

 Peter’s attitude was not as it should have been either.  He was also into the argument about who was greatest, as related by Luke.  Notice that John used the same language in his account that Luke did in explaining what Christ said about their argument:

John 13:15-16:  For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

 Luke 22:26-27   But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.

27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.

 Luke shows this instruction coming AFTER the bread and wine.  John shows it also coming after the footwashing, with Judas leaving shortly thereafter.  Therefore, the footwashing had to come after the bread and wine. 

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 (At this point give any necessary instructions for an orderly footwashing service.  Men and women should be in separate rooms for the footwashing service.)

CLOSING COMMENTS

 John 13:8 through John 17:26.   These are the words Jesus spoke to His disciples after His last Passover supper with them, just before He was seized to be taken and crucified.  Since it is rather long, you may, in advance of the service, mark certain portions of these chapters to be read instead of reading all of it.

 After this Scripture reading, lead in a hymn, preferably a Psalm, and dismiss quietly.  There should be no closing prayer.  (In thy Loving Kindness)

 PLEASE NOTE

After the service has ended, and the people have left the hall, you should discard any portion of the bread and wine left over that was taken into the room for the service and had been blessed.  Only such wine or bread actually taken into the room and prayed over during the service need be discarded!  The WINE should be poured down the sink and flushed.  The BREAD should be incinerated/burned that evening.   It ought not be consumed or used for any other purpose after the service.