This weekend the ancient celebration of Passover begins. While many of us Gentile Christians don’t make a big deal of or even truly understand Passover, to the Israelites Passover was (and is to many today) a significant and important celebration of when God miraculously protected them from the plagues put on Egypt and led them out of bondage to pharaoh. God commanded the Israelites to keep and observe Passover in a very specific way and time every year (Lev 23:4-8).
While one could spend months studying the historic and prophetic importance of Passover, today I’d like to highlight one small facet of the Passover celebration which are the four cups of wine served during the Passover meal. As we’ll see once again, the gospel of Christ was written into the fabric of human history, and the festivals, feasts, and laws God gave the Israelites were all meant to point to the Messiah giving His life for us on the cross.
Early in Exodus, prior to Israel’s departure from Egypt, God stated the four “I wills” which became part of the Passover celebration:
Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Exodus 6:6-7
From this we get the four cups served during Passover:
The cup of sanctification – “I will” bring you out from under burden
The cup of deliverance – “I will” bring you out of from bondage
The cup of redemption – “I will” redeem you with great and mighty power
The cup of praise – “I will” be your God and you will be My people
Can you see the gospel in these four statements?
Now let’s turn to Matthew 26 when Jesus was celebrating Passover with His disciples (aka the Last Supper). This is just a couple of hours before He is betrayed:
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” Matt 26:26-29
From this passage we not only get the basis for our observation of communion, but there is a very important element worth noting: the Lord and His disciples did not drink of the final cup, the cup of hallel (praise). Why?
While there are numerous interpretations, I believe here Christ was not only demonstrating He was the true Passover lamb, but also by saying He “will not drink of this vine again until I drink it new with you” He was looking ahead to celebrating Passover with all of us saints, who are redeemed with His blood, during His future millennial kingdom. Imagine what a wonderful celebration that will be!
As is often the case, the Old Testament shadows the things in the New Testament, and just as the blood of lambs spread on the doorposts of the homes of the Israelites saved them from God’s judgement and wrath on the Egyptians (Exodus 12), in the same way Christ’s shed blood saves us! And on that glorious day to come we will all enjoy the full presence and acceptance of God as we very literally call Him our God and He calls us His children forever and ever.
Soli Deo gloria!