Barry Newman's Blog

September 18, 2009

Christ Centred Communion (part III)

The Last Passover Meal (cont.)

If it were not for Paul recording that Jesus said, “Whenever you drink it” we might have thought that Jesus was only telling his disciples that it was simply the Last Passover Meal that was to be seen in a new way.  However Paul’s information seems to indicate that the disciples were also to celebrate future Passover meals from this new point of view.  (This is not to deny that the Last Passover Meal had implications for all Christian meals.)  If the reference was also to future Passover meals, how often was “whenever”?  The answer is, once a year. The Passover was celebrated once a year.  Indeed we suspect that in the early days some Jewish Christians continued to celebrate Passover and that would have been once a year, but they would have celebrated it, of course, with a new perspective.  They would have especially remembered that Jesus had died for them at this time.  How could they do otherwise? How often did Christians who were not Jews celebrate a Passover meal?  It is not clear that they ever celebrated such a meal.  Celebrating the Passover was a requirement of the Mosaic Law given to Jews, but Paul had made it clear that the Jews as Christians were no longer under the Law (Galatians 5).  Would it matter if they never celebrated the Passover again?  In line with Paul’s comments on circumcision (1 Cor. 7: 19; Gal. 6: 15) one could imagine him saying, “Have some Jewish Christians decided to continue to celebrate Passover?  That is all right.  Have some Jewish Christians decided not to celebrate Passover in the future?  That is all right as well.  Have Gentile Christians decided not to celebrate any of the Jewish festivals, including Passover?  That is all right.” It is important to realise that nowhere in the New Testament letters are there any instructions to Christians, Jews or Gentiles, requiring them to celebrate the Passover.  Furthermore, the fact that the words of Jesus, “Do this in remembrance of me” are only found in the Gospel of Luke, is noteworthy, particularly if Jesus is instituting a ceremony (or what some may consider a rite) for all Christians to observe.  Why would a command concerning such a ceremony not be mentioned in all the Gospels?  It is contended here that Jesus did not command that a Christian ceremony reflective of the Last Passover Meal be observed by those who believed in him. However, are there indications anywhere in the New Testament that such a ceremony was being observed?

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