Archive for the ‘Passover’ Tag

Jesus, Threat   1 comment

Christ Before Pilate

Above:  Christ Before Pilate, by Mihaly Munkracsy

Image in the Public Domain


The Collect:

Creator God, you prepare a new way in the wilderness,

and your grace waters our desert.

Open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing,

that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love

given to all through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 29


The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 12:21-27

Psalm 126

John 11:45-47


When the LORD restored Zion

it was as though we were dreaming.

We could not speak for laughing,

we could only utter cries of joy.

Then the saying arose among the nations,

“The LORD has done something great with these people.”

The LORD has done something great with us;

we were delighted.

–Psalm 126:1-3, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)


The remembrance of what God has done (as in Psalm 126) and was about to do (as in Exodus 12) was supposed to inspire reverence for God, measurable in various ways, including how people treated others.  The plot to scapegoat Jesus (in John 11) contradicted that ethic.

Celebrating Passover, the annual commemoration of God liberating the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, in occupied Jerusalem was politically sensitive.  Furthermore, the Temple was the seat of collaboration with the Roman occupying forces.  Jesus was a threat to the Temple authorities and, by extension, to their Roman overlords and partners.  When he entered the city at the beginning of that fateful week leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus arrived in the manner of a triumphant king en route to peace talks after a battle.  Our Lord and Savior, the Gospel of John makes clear, rejected offers to seek to expel the Romans, but many people, including Pontius Pilate, thought that Jesus might lead an insurrection.  Even after Pilate realized that Jesus was not a political rebel, he understood our Lord and Savior to be a threat nevertheless.  Jesus was a threat, but not in the way Pilate thought.

Jesus was a threat to a form of piety which privileged wealth and depended on a certain amount of it in a society which consisted primarily of illiterate peasants.  Jesus was a threat to religious legalism.  Jesus was a threat to religious practices which draped economic injustice in the cloak of piety.

Man Nobody Knows

Above:  The Table of Contents from The Man Nobody Knows:  A Discovery of the Real Jesus (1925), by Bruce Barton

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Jesus remains a threat to such practices in our time.  We cannot kill him again.  Besides, he did not remain dead for long the last time.  We are capable, however, of attempting to domesticate Jesus.  People left, right, and center have been engaged in this practice for a very long time.  One might, for example, ignore the Beatitudes and Woes from Luke 6:17-26, downplay or ignore his apocalyptic teachings, or portray him as always nice and smiling.  The genuine article, however, was–and remains–a threat to a variety of misconceptions about Jesus.  I like to think that, even if I had not grown up in the Christian faith, I would have become a Christian because of the portrayal of Jesus in the four canonical Gospels.

The remembrance of what God has done and some awareness of what God is doing compel me to have reverence for God.  Among the examples to which I point is Jesus.  His life invites me to examine my life.  Much of what he reveals to me makes me uncomfortable, but identifying a problem is the first step in correcting them.







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Jesus and Scapegoating   1 comment


Above:  The Dogma of the Redemption, by John Singer Sargent

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USZ62-133671


The Collect:

Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal,

Jesus gave us a new commandment,

to love one another as he loves us.

Write this commandment in our hearts,

and give us the will to serve others

as he was the servant of all, your Son,

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 30


The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 12:1-4 [5-10] 11-14

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17, 31-35


Some Related Posts:

Exodus 12:

1 Corinthians 11:

John 13:

Prayer for Holy Thursday/Maundy Thursday:

Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way:

That Solemn Night:


O Lord, I am your servant,

your servant, the child of your handmaid;

you have freed me from my bonds.

I will offer to you a sacrifice of thanksgiving

and call upon the name of the Lord.

–Psalm 116:14-15, Common Worship (2000)


The greatest title of the Bishop of Rome is “Servant of the Servants of God.”  That model of servanthood comes from Jesus himself, who affirmed by words and deeds the dignity of human beings and called we mortals to respectful community.  In serving each other we seek and find our own best interests, for what affects one person has an impact on others.

The Passover and the Exodus marked the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, delivered them from the sins of their oppressors, and set them on the way to hearing an ideal of responsibility to and for each other.  In the Law of Moses people, all slaves of God, have no right to exploit or oppress each other.  We humans have yet to fulfill that ethic in our social, economic, and political systems, unfortunately.

Ironically, the reading from the Gospel of John is set on Wednesday, for, in the Fourth Gospel, our Lord and Savior dies on Thursday, while the sacrificial animals die at the Temple.  He is, in other words, the Passover Lamb.  He was, for many, a scapegoat in a difficult political situation.  Yet the wrath of the Roman Empire fell hard in time anyway.

Scapegoating anyone violates the ethic of mutuality in the Law of Moses.  May we, in reverence for Jesus and because it is the right thing to do, refrain from scapegoating people.  May we respect their dignity actively and effectively instead.








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Our Passover Lamb   2 comments

Lamb Altarpiece, Ghent, by Jan van Eyck (circa 1395-1441)


Collect and lections from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Exodus 12:1-14a (New Revised Standard Version):

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt:

This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.  Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household.  If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.  You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight.  They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs.  You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.  This is how you shall eat it; your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly.  It is the passover of the LORD.  For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.  The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (New Revised Standard Version):

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  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.”

For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Psalm 78:14-20, 23-25 (New Revised Standard Version):

In the daytime he [God] led them with a cloud,

and all night long with a fiery light.

He split rocks open in the wilderness,

and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

He made streams come out of the rock,

and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

Yet they sinned still more against him,

rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

They tested God in their heart

by demanding the food they craved.

They spoke against God, saying,

Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out

and torrents overflowed,

can he also give bread,

or provide meat for his people?

Yet he commanded the skies above,

and opened the doors of heaven;

he rained down on them manna to eat,

and gave them the grain of heaven.

Mortals ate the bread of angels;

he sent them food in abundance.

John 13:1-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.  And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,

Lord, are you going to wash my feet?

Jesus answered,

You do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.

Peter said to him,

You will never wash my feet.

Jesus answered,

Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.

Simon Peter said to him,

Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!

Jesus said to him,

One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean.  And you are clean, though not all of you.

For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said,

Not all of you are clean.

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them,

Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am.  So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them.  If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them….


Luke 22:14-30 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the hour came, he [Jesus] took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them,

I have eagerly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.

Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks, he said,

Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said to them, saying,

This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.

And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying,

This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table.  For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!

Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest.  But he said to them,

The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.  But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.

You are those who have stood by me in my trials, and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Collect:

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


The Kingdom of God stands in stark contrast to human political and economic systems.  Political systems, even the most benign ones, rely partially on coercion.  And economic systems stand partially on artificial scarcity.  With God, however, there is always enough for everyone to have what he or she needs, and servanthood is the path to leadership.

These are radical ideas.  In the 1960s Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini made the landmark movie, The Gospel According Matthew, with most dialogue lifted from the Gospel of Matthew.  Spanish Fascist dictator Francisco Franco labeled the movie “Marxist.”  An old maxim states that the purpose of the Gospel is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  That is what the Gospel does when one presents it properly, without diluting it.

Jesus demonstrated service, becoming the Passover lamb.  This point becomes especially clear in the Gospel of John, which places the crucifixion on Thursday, as the priests sacrifice lambs at the Temple.  Thus the Last Supper was a Passover meal in the Synoptic Gospels, but not the Johannine Gospel.  In John, Jesus was the Passover meal. And today, in the Holy Eucharist (one of seven sacraments), we Christians can partake of his body and blood–not in a symbolic sense, not as a memorial meal, not as an ordinance–but via Transubstantiation.  Thanks be to God!

The purpose of the Passover lamb’s blood smeared on the household door frame was to spare the life of the firstborn son in that household.  In other words, the blood of the lamb saved one ‘s life from the consequences of other people’s sins.  This is vital to understand.  If Jesus, then, is the ultimate Passover lamb, he saves us from consequences of the sins of others, not ourselves.  So St. Anselm’s theology of the Atonement cannot rest upon the Passover lamb analogy.  Thus the nature of Jesus’ sacrifice must work another way, assuming the veracity of the Passover lamb analogy.  (Think about it.)








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