Jesus was committed to observing and honoring the rites and rituals of his people. We also need to, but we must be careful that we don’t do this mindlessly.
Matthew 26:17-19 - Rites and Rituals
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel with Aneel Aranha. Today we will reflect on Matthew 26:17-19. These three verses are part of the narrative about the Last Supper. There is a lot to be learned from the events here, so I have broken it down into smaller segments. Listen.
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
These three verses describe the preparations that Jesus made with his disciples to celebrate Passover. This passage is significant because it highlights the importance of ritual and tradition in Jesus' teachings and ministry. It also underscores his role as a religious leader within the Jewish community.
The Passover is a Jewish festival celebrating the Israelites' liberation from slavery in Egypt. As you probably know, God sent ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to release them. The last of these plagues was the death of the firstborn in every Egyptian household, but the Israelites were instructed to mark their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificial lamb so that the angel of death would "pass over" their homes, hence "Passover."
Following their deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites were commanded to celebrate the Passover as a perpetual memorial of their liberation. During this festival, families would gather to share a special meal and retell the story of the exodus.
In this passage, Jesus instructs his disciples to make preparations for the Passover meal, including finding a suitable location and acquiring the necessary supplies. This suggests that Jesus was committed to observing and honoring the traditions of his people and that he saw value in participating in these rituals alongside his followers.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28). Every time we celebrate communion, we call to mind the new covenant — or at least we should call to mind the new covenant that God made with man.
However, like so often happens, we can begin observing rites and rituals mindlessly. This is dangerous because it can lead to a superficial and empty practice of religion. When we go through the motions of performing religious rites and rituals without understanding their significance or purpose, we risk losing sight of the deeper spiritual meaning behind them.
Let us not do things merely for the sake of doing them but look for the significance of what we do. Not only will our faith increase, but we will also be able to live in the fullness of it.
May the Spirit be with you.