These words which were spoken at the Last Supper obviously have deep ties with the Passover in the book of Exodus. However, the intimate connection between both events is especially more clearly pronounced in the aspect of the memory. Both events are about memory and remembrance, The Passover was and is still a special time of keeping in memory how God chose His People from the beginning of time, and how He led His chosen people out of slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. God wanted them to remember the way Moses challenged the great Pharaoh of Egypt to let God’s people go, and the series of plagues that were sent to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites. God wanted His people to remember how He broke the stubborn resistance of Pharaoh with the warning that the first born in Egypt would be slain. There was only one way to escape this death. Each household was to kill a lamb and put some of its blood on the doorposts of their houses.
The flesh of the lamb was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. When the angel of death sees the blood on the doorposts, he would ‘pass over’ their homes and those inside would be safe. Till today, faithful Jews celebrate the Passover and thank God for their deliverance from Egypt. When they celebrated the Passover they recalled with horror the slavery to Egypt, the lash of the whip on bare flesh, the scorching sun, working till they dropped. But they also recalled with great delight how God in His love saw them in their anguish and came to their rescue. They remembered the daily supply of food that fell from the heavens; how the cloud led them during the day, and a blazing fire at night. Not only was the Passover a time of recalling but it was also a time of thanksgiving and celebration. They praised God for His Love. That is why God said to them: “This day shall be for you a memorial and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations (Ex. 12:14).” At the Last Supper, Jesus also made a similar statement as did God in Ex. 12:14 when he said: “Do this in memory of me” (LK.22:19). To be continued next week.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.