The other day my wife and I were sorting through old family photos. We were mostly flipping though, hardly acknowledging any one photo. Everyone once in a while one or two photos would catch our eye demanding more attention. We would see a picture of our children many years younger, or the emotion of a major life event perfectly captured in an image, and we would stop. Held captive by something so powerful it made everything else fade to the background. In those moments, holding those pictures, we would do something very holy and sacred. We would remember.
C.S. Lewis has said “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.” Remembering is more than just recalling. Remembering is an emotional event joyous and sad all at the same time. Remembering does something to the people who partake in it, and can even affect those who were not present at the original moment. This is most evident when you get around a bunch of friends and begin remembering together. Telling stories laughing, crying… remembering.
The night Jesus was betrayed he sat down to engage in this holy and sacred event with his closest friends. He and his disciples went into the upper room to celebrate Passover. For Jesus and his disciples it was more than just a meal and certainly more than a ritual. It was the equivalent to a box of old photos. Everything they ate and drank had memories associated with it. The Passover Feast was specifically designed by God to help the Israelites remember everything He had done for the them in the Exodus. It pointed back but, it also pointed forward to a time when God would deliver his people again from a far greater slave master—sin itself.
To illustrate this to your children and teenagers take them through a miniature Lord’s Supper. Purchase some grape juice and Matzo crackers from your local grocery store (both should be easy to find during the Passover season).
Jesus and his disciples ate and drank something very similar. Everything they ate and drank had meaning and helped them remember something specific about what God had done.
Ask your children if they notice anything different about the Matzo? How is it different from other bread we eat?
Explain how the Matzo is made without yeast. God commanded the Israelites to make bread without yeast because they were in a hurry. That night God would free them from slavery in Egypt and there was no time to allow traditional bread to rise. It was also symbolic. It was the last meal they would eat as slaves, and the first they would eat as free people.
As Jesus sat down with his disciples he broke the bread (Matzo), which signaled the beginning of the Passover celebration. He told his disciples, “This is my body that is broken for you.” Just like the Israelites, the breaking of Jesus’ body on the cross signaled the freedom from slavery to sin for all who believe.
In addition, the bread would have reminded the disciples of how God provided food for them in the wilderness, sending manna from heaven. The manna in the wilderness was more than just another meal. It was life saving—keeping the Israelites alive in the wilderness. God has provided for us in the same way by sending his Son from heaven to earth. Jesus even called himself the bread from heaven, linking himself to the manna. Just like the manna, Jesus saves our life and keeps us alive
Later in the Passover service Jesus took a cup of wine and blessed it. It was customary to pour out small amounts of wine on a plate remembering the 10 plagues. The plagues were a demonstration of God’s unparalleled power over all things. The disciples would have poured out a small amount of wine 10 times, remembering each of the 10 plagues. Jesus took that same cup of wine and said, “This is my blood that is poured out for many.” With this statement the cup was taking on a similar, yet new, meaning. God was, once again, showing his unparalleled power—this time over sin and death. It was the pouring out of Christ’s blood that ultimately defeated death and freed from the power of sin all who believe.
The Passover meal was a meal designed for remembering. As Jesus and his disciples were remembering God’s saving actions from the Exodus, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” That night Judas would betray Jesus, setting in motion the new Exodus, God’s freeing of his people bound in slavery to sin.
Have your children eat the bread and drink the cup, and as they do ask them to remember the things God has done and is still doing for them. Encourage them to remember these things every time they take communion or see the bread and cup passed at church.