The First Supper
The Easter Promise
Raised as a Christian, my father’s side Catholic, and my mother’s side Lutheran was the fertile soil for this discussion. I lived next door to my grandma Bondly but visited my grandma and grandpa Jordahl on the farm twenty miles from our house on fourth avenue. We regularly attended saint Leo’s catholic church for Sunday Mass, and monthly we would attend Rose Valley Lutheran, a small country church five miles from grandpa’s farm. I believed the church was about social events and never read the Bible; however, I read my catechism. I thought both churches were social clubs, and my favorite social event was “Ladies Aid” suppers at Rose Valley.
I felt I was destined for heaven because I attended two churches and did the first communion and confirmation routines twice; some Sundays, I even went to two services. God had to be Ok with me because I was a good boy. He had to. I even attended a Catholic High School and did mass during the week. We celebrated communion weekly—I must have eaten a ton of those circular styrofoam wafers that always stuck to the roof of my mouth. Washing the styrofoam down with a thimble of lousy wine never released it from my mouth. The wafers eventually dissolved, and Christ was in my belly. The process was a ritual I did not understand until I was fifty years old; I am seventy-one now.
We were preparing a “Farm 2 Table” meal in the “Garden Dwellers Farm” kitchen, and I noticed a small metal tube and symbol by the door and asked, “Holly, what is that metal placard by the door?” She responded, “It is a mezuzah in Hebrew, mezuzah means “doorpost.” I asked, “Is it a Jewish thing?” Not knowing the time it would take, I asked Holly, “Please explain it to me.” Sure she responded:
“According to tradition, the mezuzah is to be affixed to the doorpost at the entrance to a Jewish home and the entrance to each interior room except for bathrooms. The mezuzah itself consists of a small scroll of parchment (k’laf) on which are written two biblical passages.
The first is Deuteronomy 6:4–9:
Hear, O Israel! The Eternal is our God, the Eternal alone. You shall love the Eternal your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead; inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
The second passage is Deuteronomy 11:13–21:
If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving the Eternal your God and serving [God] with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for your land in season, the early rain and the late. You shall gather in your new grain and wine and oil—I will also provide grass in the fields for your cattle—and thus you shall eat your fill. Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them. For the Eternal’s anger will flare up against you, shutting up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that the Eternal is assigning to you. Therefore impress these My words upon your very heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children—reciting them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up; and inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates—to the end that you and your children may endure, in the land that the Eternal swore to your fathers to assign to them, as long as there is a heaven over the earth.
The scroll is inserted into a wooden, plastic, or metal casing that is often quite beautiful and artistic in design. Holly saw my glazed eyes and closed by saying, “I touch it and offer a prayer as I pass through the door.”
The following year Holly was diagnosed with stage four small cell cancer. In the fourteen months that Holly battled cancer, we had many discussions about Judaism and Jesus. Our meetings grew to include a variety of subjects: God, Salvation, Yeshua, Jesus as Messiah, and the old versus new testaments. I learned a lot from those discussions; they opened my view of scripture about redemption and the Redeemer starting in Genesis through Revelations.
Jesus was a Jew and quoted the Hebrew scriptures that made up the Jewish Torah—I figured I should understand Jewish customs and celebrations to understand more about Jesus. The more I read God’s word and studied the Jewish faith; I could see the parallelism of the events leading to a perfect atonement for man’s sinfulness, the sacrificial Lamb of God—Jesus.
The entirety of the word of God breathed into the writers is God’s love letter to all His children to come home. I am not an apologist or a biblical scholar; I cannot read Hebrew or Greek, so why am I so sure of the word and God’s promise to man? Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” Mathew 7:7-8 —building faith is one brick at a time. The more I study God’s Word and explore the facts, archeology, historical evidence, science, most notably, my heart, I know it is true, every word accurate.
I often wonder why so many are so angry and hell-bent on proving the word of God is just a tall tale? What is in God’s word that frightens many? Jesus taught goodness, kindness, self-control, gentleness, and perseverance. Jesus taught us if we remain connected to the vine, we will bear fruit. The main message is to love God and love one another. God never promised an easy life; even in the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve to tend it. But Eden is the image in my mind and heart of heaven, with one exception—the absence of the snake, for the snake has been forever casting out and locked up.
Studying Jewish traditions and celebrations and reading the old testament with an open heart and mind woke me to a sudden inspiration—it is all about redemption and the atonement through the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is not about religion; it is about faith. The Sistine Chapel is a monument to Peter, a monument Peter never wanted. Religion turns many people from faith because religion is not about God; it is about buts in seats and governance. God’s church is all of us in creation; it is why I find it easy to connect with God during sunrise as the birds sing worship and praise songs. God paints the ceiling of His Church that no man is capable of copying—even the pictures I take of God’s Church can never capture the moment, the song, the aromas.
The Ah-ha, “it is all about redemption,” moment for me is during the Passover Seder dinner. This year was an uncommon year when Passover and Good Friday matched. A court judgment standardized Passover dates in the Hebrew calendar in the fourth century as part of the New Testament’s formula established by the Christian Council in Nicea. Passover does not fall on a fixed day (in the secular calendar). It is complicated, but just man’s calendar, not God’s.
We were to have a Seder Dinner with our brothers and sisters to discuss how the first time Passover and Good Friday happened in the upper room. The Last Supper we all celebrate was the First Supper to consecrate man’s redemption—from Mathew 26:26-30:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, [a]blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the [b]new covenant, which is shed for many for the [c]remission of sins. 29 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.”
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Note: ( The Seder Hymns are Psalms 113 – 118 the hallel Pslams Hallel is the Hallelujah Pslams)
It is the First Lord’s Supper story.
The Seder Passover Dinner:
Jesus and the disciples celebrated Passover in the upper room; it is a Jewish tradition but should be a Christian tradition because the Last Supper to Christians was the Passover Supper. Order and ritual are significant in the seder—so vital that they are reflected in its name: the English word seder is a transliteration of a Hebrew word (sēdher) that means “order.”
The courses in the seder meal and blessings, prayers, stories, and songs are recorded in the Haggadah, a book that lays out the order of the Passover feast and recounts the story of the Exodus. Each food consumed as part of the seder recalls an aspect of the Exodus. For instance, matzo (unleavened bread) represents the haste with which the Israelites fled ancient Egypt. The maror (a mix of bitter herbs) recalls the bitterness of life as a slave, and a mixture of fruits and nuts called haroseth (or haroset/haroses or charoseth/charoset/charoses) symbolizes the clay or mortar the Israelites worked with as slaves.
Many portions of the seder are symbolic of the Redeemer—the unbroken Lamb Shank, the three loaves of Matzah separated by linen, and what has become our communion, the Afikomen. The Afikomen is a word that comes from the Greek word for “dessert.” It is so-called not because it is sweet but because it is the last item of food eaten at the Passover seder meal. It is the middle of the three matzahs (to me representative of Father Son and Holy Spirit) broken in half with the most significant piece of the fractured Matzah hidden, then found, then enjoyed with the third cup of wine—this third cup and Afikomen was shared between the Apostles, (less Judas) as what is now known as the Lord’s Supper.
The old testament is filled with parallelism and God’s poetry about Jesus, his atonement for our sins. In Genesis chapter 22:
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac, his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham, his father, and said My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And they came to the place which God had told him of, and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac, his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
The offering of Isaac as a sacrifice is the story of God the Father, willing to sacrifice his only begotten Son Jesus, who carried the wood up the mountain for his sacrifice as the perfect atonement lamb. Isaac carried the wood on his back. But the verse, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering,” is all about Jesus.
The April blizzard surprise sequestered us to the house so the Seder we planned with our brothers and sisters did not take place on resurrection week, but we all agreed to have it on a later date, soon. We were blessed with a family of birds and deer who joined us for Easter dinner—we had Lamb, they had seeds and stale bread. It reminded me of God’s love and how he cares for every sparrow—It provided me the opportunity to share some photos of the beautiful blistery the resurrection week.
There is much more to discuss how Jesus our Redeemer is throughout the Bible, not just in the new testament. For this Resurrection week that just ended, I thought I would share this short synopsis of our view with our family.
He has Risen! Indeed
Such beautiful writing and photography! Yes! Those were Holly’s beliefs and they made her a wonderful person. I wonder if our paths crossed at Rose Valley when we were children. I love that church and attended there with My Aunt and Uncle. Today I join them on the internet when I can’t travel to church in town and just finished an amazing set of Bible study sessions on Zoom with the congregation members from Rose Valley.
Another awesome writing with pics, was so blessed as I read this article
Great post Jim we enjoyed it and the photos.
On April 4th Patricia and I had our 30th anniversary. The following Saturday we shared it with some brothers and sisters in our new home. Jesus was then and has always been the center and ever present guest at our table. At the end of diner I heard a voice in my head that said raise a toast to Jesus. I have toasted several individuals in my life but never thought about lifting one up to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I found myself getting up without saying a word a retrieved a toasting glass for each of us from the china cabinet. Then opened a bottle of sparkling. cider we had in the frig and poured some in every glass. Returning g to my chair, still standing I asked everyone to raise their glass and said: “Here’s to Jesus who walks before us to lead the way, who walks behind us to pick us up when we fall and walks beside us to befriend us. He gave all for us so those of us who believe in Him could live with Him forever. Here’s to Jesus our King!” The response from all: TO JESUS!!
We repeated that same toast on Resurrection Sunday and plan to make it a reoccurring thing in the future.
I am glad you enjoyed the article, thanks for the feedback and the toast.