Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation.
With Easter just around the corner, our thoughts turn to family, travel, ham, chocolate, and colored eggs. (At least, mine do. Note how much of that list has to do with food!) But this week I was reminded that thousands of years before there was Easter there was Passover—an important Jewish festival commemorating the Israelites exodus from Egypt, as told in the book of Exodus. Remembering and celebrating this historic event revolves around the Seder meal.
A traditional Seder meal uses common elements to help future generations remember God’s faithfulness: unleavened bread to symbolize the Hebrew’s rapid departure from Egypt, bitter herbs to symbolize the bitterness of slavery, saltwater to symbolize the tears and sweat of enslavement, and a lamb bone to serve as a reminder of the lamb that was slaughtered so its blood could be painted on the Hebrews’ doorframes, thus ensuring that the angel of death would pass over without taking the life of the firstborn inside.
These common elements are a part of every Jewish Passover meal, yet they appear nowhere in the gospel writers’ accounts of Jesus’ last supper.
Matthew (26:26-29) and Mark (14:22-25) both state that Jesus gave thanks for the bread and the wine, telling his disciples, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in my Father’s kingdom.” Luke adds information about Jesus’ need for fellowship before going to the cross when he wrote, Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). And John focuses on servanthood when he shares how Jesus washed his disciples' feet (John 13:1-17) and instructed them to do likewise.
No bitter herbs. No saltwater. No lamb bones. Bread? Yes. Unleavened? Probably, but we don’t know for sure.
Whereas other Jews were celebrating Passover by looking backwards in remembrance of their deliverance, Jesus was telling his disciples to look forward in expectation of a deliverance yet to come.
When I was a child, my parents went to great lengths to create individual Easter baskets for us kids loaded with chocolate bunnies, speckled malt balls, and tangy jellybeans. They would hide them in the most obscure places, and then watch with giddy curiosity as we scrambled under tables, behind couches, and through closets in search of them. I remember the year they hid my Easter basket in the dirty clothes hamper—a place I would never dream of looking. It took hours (or at least it seemed like hours) for me to find it, and that was only after my father gave in to my appeals for a hint. It’s an Easter event I will never forget.
I’m sure we can all say that our parents created memories for us to share, but we should never forget that God has called us to share him as well.
We can take our cue from Psalm 78, which sounds as it were uttered by Jesus himself, even though the Psalms were written centuries before he was born.
My people, hear my teaching:
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children, so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
Easter is the perfect time to remember all that God has done for us, and it’s the perfect time to share with others the hope He promises for them. If you’ve never shared your faith with anyone, perhaps now is the time. It’s not as hard as you might think. After all, God’s story is our story; and who doesn’t like hearing a good story?
So, wherever you are this Easter—remember who got you there, and whatever you’re eating—remember who provided it, and whoever you’re with—remember who created them. With gratitude, praise, and expectation—remember. Then tell others.
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS Remembrance by Hillsong Worship.
Lyrics: “If ever I should lose my way, if ever I deny your grace, remind me of the price You paid. Hallelujah. I live in remembrance.”