The Bread and the Wine

Bread and WineThere are four cups of wine used during the Seder. Each one represents on the of verbs found in Exodus 6:6-7. “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

The first cup is the Cup of Sanctification from Ex 6:6 which says, ‘I will bring you out.’ This cup sanctifies everything that follows.

The second cup is the Cup of Deliverance because the Lord said, “I will rescue you.” A full cup is symbolic of joy. During the telling of the story of deliverance, the ten plaques are recited by all. And as we name each plague, we dip our finger into the wine and place a drop on a plate. What we are doing is lessening our joy as we remember the suffering of the Egyptians from the ten plagues.

After the telling of the story we enjoy a festive meal. I used to think, as an Italian-American, that we ate a lot of food at Thanksgiving. But what I experienced as a child doesn’t compare to the sumptuous meal and joyous celebration of the Seder. And after generations of slavery, we sit and eat like royalty.

Now before we move to the last two cups, let’s look at Matzah and the Matzah Tosh.
Matzah Tosh
Matzah is unleavened bread. In ‘Preparing for the Celebration’, I discussed the significance of leaven and how it represents sin. So when we speak of Matzah, we could say it is bread without sin. Its appearance is striped and pierced.

Matzah Tosh literally means, “unleavened bread bag”. It is one bag with three compartments. The Rabbis believe is represents a unity, though they have three schools of thought on what it represents.

One is that it represents the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Another says it represents worship: the priests, the Levites, and the people of Israel. And still a third says it represents the three temples: two that were destroyed and the third which is to come.

Though they disagree on which unity it represents, they do agree that it is a symbol of unity. As followers of the Messiah, we see the Matzah Tosh as a unity representing God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The middle Matzah is called the Bread of Affliction. The middle Matzah is taken out of the bag and broken in half. One half is wrapped in a cloth and hidden. This one is called Afikomen, meaning ‘it comes later’. It is taken outside the room of celebration and hidden…buried in a sense. After the festive meal is over, the children search for it. The one who finds it receives a reward.

Receiving reward for Afikomen This is such a clear picture of Messiah. Jesus was without sin, beaten with cords, and pierced with thorns and the spear. He was broken at death, wrapped in a cloth, buried, and brought back…resurrected. Those who find Him receive great reward!

This is the bread Jesus broke, gave to His disciples and said, ‘take, eat, this is my body which is given for you.’

And that brings us to the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. In Judaism, this cup is understood as representing the blood of the Passover lamb. This is the cup that Jesus took and gave to His disciples when He spoke of the new covenant made with His blood.

God writes that covenant on our hearts. As He tells us in Jeremiah “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

No more would we need a daily sacrifice for sin, but God would deal with our sin once and for all!

This is what we, as followers of Jesus, celebrate at communion – the Afikomen and the Cup of Redemption. Having been redeemed, what can we do but praise God? And that is the 4th cup!

It is called the Cup of Restoration, because God says in Exodus 6:7, “I will take you.” It is also known as the Cup of Praise! We sing psalms of praise with the fourth cup. And that’s what we do after the fourth cup – sing praise to God.

The Passover Seder is not just a time of remembrance of the past, but a hope of the redemption which is to come.

Pastor Bill Davis once pointed out that we are just like the Israelites: we were freed from slavery to sin, but have not yet entered into the Promised Land. No, we are here on earth, doing the Father’s work until we can finally enter the Promised Land and hear those sweet words, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

As followers of Jesus, we rejoice in His redemptive work on the cross, remembering it, and celebrating the freedom He has given us from the bondage to sin and death, as we look forward to His coming again to bring us home.

Why is this night different from all other nights?

Oswald Chambers wrote, “The Cross did not happen to Jesus. He came on purpose for it. He is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’”

Why is this night different from all other nights?

Because it’s all about what Jesus did for us.

And we have the Seder to remind us, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out, that Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. He came once to redeem the world, He is coming again to rule and to reign. He is faithful and true to His promises. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so as we celebrate communion, the Seder, with the Afikomen and the Cup of Redemption! Amen?

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2 Responses to The Bread and the Wine

  1. jre June 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    Jesus has risen unlike our unleavened communion bread.

  2. Ro Pinto June 22, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Yes He has, and we have the unleavened bread to remind us of all He has done for us.

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