In the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the Passover meal and all of the aspects of it. With only a couple exceptions (I haven’t listed all of the components of the Seder and what they mean), I’ve tried to examine the ins and outs of the whole meal. We looked at the overall flow of the night in this post. In there, we saw four cups of wine that go throughout the night. It was on the third cup that Jesus blessed and said, “This is my blood of the new covenant poured out for you…” We looked into what that might entail, but I would like to add some more insight to it.
There is a tradition in the Jewish culture regarding weddings. When a young man finds a woman he wants to take as a wife, he will go to his father and say, “Father, abba… I found a lovely woman. She’s perfect. She’s pretty; she’s funny; she loves Torah… loves the Beach Boys… I can’t find anyone else like her! I want to take her as a wife.” His father then would either say yay or nay. If yay, they would go together to the home of the young woman. They would discuss with her father a negotiation of marriage. At the end of the night, after all has been set in place, the young man will take a cup and fill it with wine. He will then bless it and say to the young woman, “This is my blood of a new covenant; take and drink of it.”
Now the woman has an option. She can take of the cup, and thus solidify that they are now to be wed. Or, she can kindly refuse. Let’s say that the woman takes of it. They are now courting, which is much more serious than our modern day “engagement”. When she takes of the cup, they are now considered married in the sense that they would need a certificate of divorce in order to separate. When the woman takes of the cup, the young man will now say to his soon-to-be bride, “In my father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I o and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
The young man will then go back with his father and begin to build onto the house a place for he and his wife. When he finishes, he will call his father, and his father will inspect it. Only the father knows the time when the son will return to take his wife. The father knows what the young woman will expect, and when the son has finished, he will tell his son that it is time. If the son calls his father, and his father knows that it is not yet ready, he will instruct his son to continue building. When that glorious day comes, the father will send his son back to his wife.
All the while, the young woman is preparing herself. She is doing everything she can to be as beautiful as she can for when her husband comes for her. She is bathing in perfume. She is looking inwardly to perfect her beauty – beauty that comes from the inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. She is washing her raiment to have the whitest clothing for her husband.
It is in Revelation 19:6-8 that we read, “Hallelujah! For the Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. Find linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints. Then the angel said to me, write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! And he added, these are the true words of God.”
What do you think the disciples were thinking when Jesus would say these things to them? What do you think that was running through their heads? If you think they were considering that Jesus is being crazy, you are mistaken. You see, this goes back to Sinai. God spoke to Israel with wedding language at Sinai.
In Jewish tradition, the agent who represents the bridegroom in negotiations with his potential bride is referred to as the “friend of the bridegroom.” This would be Moses (see Exodus 19). For the wedding, there has to be a marriage contract. This is called a ketubah. The ketubah defines the responsibilities of both parties, and is retained as an actual guide for their marriage. Jews consider the Torah to be the ketubah, but many Christians have considered it to be the Ten Commandments in specific.
Candles are present in many Jewish weddings to signify the fire that came down upon Sinai. It is possible that God used the same symbolism on the day of Pentecost when tongues of fire came upon the heads of all those gathered together.
What is still missing? There was the chuppa. A chuppa is made by poles that hold up the prayer shawl above the couple. It symbolizes the Lord coming down upon Sinai in clouds.
What is happening here in the words of Christ Jesus? We find that the prophet Jeremiah prophesied, “The days are coming, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their forefathers when I took them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” Jesus is taking this language, and attaching it to the covenant at Sinai being wedding language, and putting forth that the covenant coming through Him is the fulfillment of this. Not only that, but this covenant is another covenant of marriage.
The disciples would have heard this and known that it was severe to take a drink from that cup. It isn’t just that they are taking a cup and drinking it down because it represents redemption. This represents marriage unto the Lord. This might explain why Paul says to the Corinthians that some of them have been taking of that cup wrongly, and the result has been that some have gotten sick and died. The covenant is not simply in his blood because these are mere words, but because they are staking their life on it. For either party to take of that cup wrongfully, and to be unfaithful to the other, the covenant is serious enough to lay claim to their life – that blood should be poured out.
This Passover, while we’re taking of that cup, let us remember that we aren’t simply drinking down a cup of wine. We’re taking up a covenant of marriage and purity unto the Lord. Let us take it with the utmost sobriety and genuine adoration of Him.