At the beginning of the second year of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the LORD commanded Moses to instruct Israel to keep the Passover as a memorial. They were to observe it just as they had done the previous year in Egypt, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Some elements would be missing because the first Passover took place before Israel escaped Egypt through the Red Sea. But this and all subsequent Passovers was to be a commemorative celebration as well as a means of teaching Israel (and its posterity) about God’s sovereignty and love for His children.
The Passover was to take place on the 14th day of the first month at twilight (v. 3). Everyone who was ceremonial clean and thus capable of participating in the Passover celebration was required to do so under the penalty of being cut off from Israel (v. 13). However, all who were incapable of observing the Passover (e.g., because of uncleanness through contact with a corpse or on a long journey [v.5]) were permitted to keep the celebration one month later (v. 10-11). Failure to keep the LORD’s Passover at its appointed times was a serious offense requiring the offender to bear his own sin (v.13). Thus to be “cut off” from Israel has been interpreted to mean sudden and mysterious death as a divine punishment. However some interpreters think it may refer to excommunication from Israel or judicial execution.
As our Passover Lamb, Jesus instructed us to commemorate His death in regular communion with one another (1 Corinthians 11:24-25). The first communion took place with His disciples before He went to the cross and gave His life. Since then, subsequent communions look back at His death in celebration of our freedom from sin and redemption from enslavement. Jesus’ emphasis is not on a particular time or day to celebrate communion. He requires us to partake of the bread, which represents His body that was prepared as an instrument of God’s will (cf. Psalm 40:6-8; Hebrews 10:5-6), and the cup, representing His blood that was poured out to remove our sin (cf. Matthew 26:28). The celebration of His communion is our proclamation of freedom from sin until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26). In essence, it is our means of teaching our posterity about God’s sovereign love at work on behalf of His children through Christ’s sacrificial death. Thus we are ceremonially unclean and in danger of judgement when we participate in the Lord’s communion without forgiving others of their sins because we have received forgiveness of sin through Him (1 Corinthians 11:29).
To whom have you proclaimed the His death? Are you free from sin through His sacrifice? What has the Lord’s communion taught you?