Sunday, April 16, 2006

Joining of Two Sacred Events

I started to write this a couple of days ago but “the cares of the world”, earning a living, took me away before I could post it. I since have had a chance to read other talks and had a chance to think about what I wanted to share with you or how to better present my thoughts. I will borrow the opening lines from a talk given by Boyd K. Packer, “The Mediator”, which he gave in May of 1977.

“What I shall say I could say much better if we were alone, just
the two of us. It would be easier also if we had come to know one another, and had that kind of trust which makes it possible to talk of serious, even sacred things.

If we were that close, because of
the nature of what I shall say, I would study you carefully as I spoke. If there should be the slightest disinterest or distraction, the subject would quickly be changed to more ordinary things.”

I thought to myself, “Wow, what a powerful way to express the serious nature of everything that follows.” In that regard I paid full attention to every word, every intended utterance as the talk he gave proceeded. To this end I extend the same preamble, the same sincerity of purpose.

This weekend the Christian world celebrates the most important of all days in human history, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m not sure that “celebrate” is a strong enough word, although it comes closest to my acknowledgement and understanding of the gift which is least understood, that gift which God gave to all mankind to take us safely past death. I wonder how many of us contemplate the Jewish Passover and Easter as one and the same celebration. I read a talk given by Howard W. Hunter, “Christ – Our Passover” back in 1985 and published in the Ensign. I’ve linked to the website where the entire talk may be found in the title bar.

Passover in the Old Testament and Easter in the New Testament testify of the great gift God has given and of the sacrifice that was involved in its bestowal. Both of these great religious commemorations declare that death would “pass over” us and could have no permanent power upon us, and that the grave would have no victory.”

“And they shall take of the blood ( of a lamb without blemish ), and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”

{. . .}

“And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?

“That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt.” (
Ex. 12:7–8, 11, 26–27.)

Well, the time has now come; we all should be asking, “What mean ye by this service?” and yet many are not interested, or have placed this issue on the back burner in pursuit of the more temporal aspects of life.

“After the Israelites had escaped from Pharaoh’s grasp and death came to the firstborn of the Egyptians, the Israelites eventually crossed over Jordan. It is recorded that “the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho.” (
Josh. 5:10.) And so it was with Jewish families year after year thereafter, including the family of Joseph and Mary and the young boy, Jesus.”

“When Jesus was but twelve years old, he went to Jerusalem with his parents to take part in the Passover celebration. Luke’s account tells us that Jesus remained behind in the temple after his parents had departed for home. They returned with fear and anxiety to find him among the doctors of the law “both hearing them, and asking them questions.” (
Luke 2:46.) Luke records that all who “heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” (Luke 2:47.)”

“Could it have been possible that Jesus was teaching these older and formally trained men about the meaning of the Passover just celebrated? Would it have surprised them that one so young and seemingly inexperienced would have known so much about the meaning of that fateful night in Egypt so long ago and so far away? Would they have been amazed at his knowledge of the lamb and the blood and the firstborn and the sacrifice? The scriptures are silent on such questions.”

I would remind you of the opening lines that I “borrowed” (stole) from Boyd K. Packer’s talk; blink you eyes and regain full focus as you read that last paragraph over again. That which we call the Meridian of times is the joining of the Old and the New Testaments, the joining of the two sacred events, the Passover and what we now call Easter; that being the events leading up to the Last Supper, the suffering at Gethsemane, the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“Finally, preparations for the
Passover meal were complete, in keeping with nearly fifteen hundred years of tradition. Jesus sat down with his disciples and, after the eating of the sacrificial lamb and of the bread and wine of this ancient feast, he taught them a newer and holier meaning of that ancient blessing from God.

He took one of the flat, round loaves of unleavened bread, said the blessing over it, and broke it into pieces that he distributed to the Apostles, saying: “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (
Luke 22:19.)

As the cup was being poured, he took it and, giving thanks, invited them to drink of it, saying, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (
Luke 22:20.) Paul said of it: “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Cor. 11:26.)”

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“In this simple but impressive manner the Savior instituted the ordinance now known as the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. With the suffering of Gethsemane, the sacrifice of Calvary, and the resurrection from a garden tomb, Jesus fulfilled the ancient law and ushered in a new dispensation based on a higher, holier understanding of the law of sacrifice. No more would men be required to offer the firstborn lamb from their flock, because the Firstborn of God had come to offer himself as an “infinite and eternal sacrifice.””

I would encourage you to ponder these thoughts as to their relevance in your individual lives. I started by “borrowing” directly from Boyd K. Packer, his words having the necessary strength to gain my attention. I will close in similar fashion by leaving you with Howard W. Hunter’s closing remarks; my own testimony being added to his.

“At this Easter season, I bear testimony of the Firstborn of God, who made that sacrifice, who has “borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows,” who “was wounded for our transgressions” and “was bruised for our iniquities.” (
Isa. 53:4–5.) Of the divine nature of this Redeemer and Savior of all mankind I testify, in his name, Jesus Christ, amen.”


The MaryHunter said...

I've linked you from my Easter Post... well noted. It is annoying that Easter and Passover so rarely coincide. If only someone could explain that calendar glitch to me...

Have a Happy Easter Season! Still quite a lot of it left, through Pentacost.

Al said...

It shames me that I didn't post anything last weekend nor link this.