~by Randy Bushey
…Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer… And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:14,15,19,20).
The Kidron Valley is situated east of the Holy City, between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. The Brook Kidron is a dry streambed for much of the year, running only in the winter and spring months.
And in April for several days, after the winter rains, the gushing water ran red.
This was because the stream was located directly below the Temple wherein the 1st century historian Josephus calculated that within 2 days, more than 250,000 sheep were slaughtered in the Temple compound for Jewish Passover celebrations.
When Jesus and His disciples crossed the Kidron in moving to the Mount of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane, they would have encountered the water running crimson from the tens of thousands of animals slaughtered hours earlier in the Temple courts above.
The odour of the blood at Passover was overwhelming – a pungent reminder of the loathsomeness of sin.
The priests stood in long rows so the blood could be transported from the slain animal to the alter by way of a priestly “bucket brigade” where the first would catch some of the blood in a bowl that was then passed down the line, from hand to hand. The final priest would throw the blood against the base of the altar, handing the empty bowl back and the process was reversed – from one to another – down to the front of the line.
The copious amounts of excess blood were gravity-fed down to the Kidron directly below the Temple, where the water flushed it away in an ominous crimson flow.
Such were the sights and sounds of this, the oldest of the Hebrew feast holidays: Passover day followed by 7 days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
But when the Lord Jesus celebrated this Passover with His disciples, it was the last such celebration under God’s blessing.
Passover was about to be abruptly terminated. Outdated. Obsolete.
That was because the ultimate Lamb of God was to be slain outside the city walls. His blood was shed for the sin of His people.
The death of Christ – at 3 pm on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan – would have occurred at the precise moment when the Passover lambs were beginning to be slaughtered by the priests in the Temple courts.
And the thunderous tearing of the Temple curtain which stood as a barrier to the Holiest Place representative of where God dwelt – a curtain according to Alfred Edersheim measuring 60 feet in length with a thickness of the palm of a man’s hand – symbolized direct access to God through the sacrifice of His Son.
In the upper room, the Lord Jesus explained to His disciples that this Seder meal was transitional. In view of His being betrayed and going to the Cross – an event that He had predicted, but which they still refused to acknowledge – He was transforming Passover and its detailed ritual to the simple remembrance of Him with bread and wine symbolizing His body and blood.
The Old Covenant was being replaced with the New – a covenant that was not structured on ethnicity and for an entire nation. This was God’s offer of covenantal forgiveness and love, protection, and eternal life to any person responding in repentant faith.
Consequently, Bible teacher John MacArthur observes, “the divinely-ordained Passover remembrance ended when Jesus celebrated it that night with His disciples. Any observance of it since that time has been based solely on human tradition, the perpetuation of an outward form that has long since lost its spiritual significance.”
The New Covenant sign was the cup – [t]his cup is the new covenant in my blood – as significant biblical covenants were ratified with blood, as were covenants with Abraham and Noah. Moses sprinkled the people with blood after Sinai, confirming [t]his is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you…
And the blood shed at Passover – in the Temple courts and on the Cross of Calvary – was the fulfillment of those first lambs killed in Egypt with their blood splattered on the door-frame of the homes for protection from God’s avenging angel of death, 15 centuries before.
Takeaway: Jesus not only needed to lose His life.
It was essential, crucial – in the pre-creation annals of heaven – that His blood be shed to complete the eternal redemptive picture.
At immeasurable cost, God therefore saves us from His own wrath targeted at our sin.
~ graphic by LUMO Project, freebibleimages.org