Posts Tagged ‘Haggadah’

Did Jesus drink wine after the third cup?

March 28th, 2012

It’s understandable, I guess, that Christian Haggadot under-appreciate the fourth cup. After all, Jesus and His disciples didn’t partake of the fourth cup during the Last Supper. Instead, Jesus broke the bread (the afikomen), drank the third cup, and then declared “I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)

If the fourth cup wasn’t necessary for Jesus and His disciples, why should we bother with it?

This is where I think the majority of Christian Haggadot miss out.

When Jesus said that he wouldn’t drink again of this fruit of the vine, was he saying that he wouldn’t drink grape juice or wine again until heaven? I think many would answer yes.

This interpretation of Jesus’ words results in some confusion when, only a chapter later, Jesus is given a sponge filled with sour wine to drink (Matthew 27:48). Note that this is NOT the wine mixed with gall that Jesus refused to drink a few verses earlier in Matthew 27:34. This time, Matthew makes no mention of whether or not Jesus drank the proffered wine. But John’s language in his account of the same incident suggests that Jesus did consume the sour wine: “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished.'” (John 19:30)

So, if Jesus’ statement was NOT saying that he would not consume any more liquid derived from grapes until paradise, in what way did Jesus mean his statement “I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom”?

I believe that Jesus was referring specifically to the Four Cups of the Seder–and that he was announcing that this was not his ultimate (last) Seder, but his penultimate (next-to-last) Seder. Jesus stopped with the third cup, the cup whose symbolism He would fulfill the very next day. He announced the meaning of the cup of redemption and stopped there, for his disciples to meditate on its meaning as they watched the events of the next few days unfold.

The fourth cup, the cup of rejoicing, Jesus saved for later–for the final feast, where the final promise of Exodus 6:6-7 would be fulfilled:

“I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.”


This is the third part in a four-part series on the four cups of the Seder. Stay tuned for the rest of the posts, which will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

Is this how Christ celebrated the Passover?

March 20th, 2012

Last week, when I posted the second part in my series on the Four Cups of the Haggadah, Barbara commented:

I had wondered how they got to four cups when that wasn’t mentioned in Exodus at the Passover and whether that was Jewish tradition that was added later. I also wondered if the four cups would have been used in Christ’s day.

I thought I would address this further since the codification of the Haggadah as we know it today has only recently been a topic that I’ve looked into much. Initially, like many Haggadah enthusiasts, I was fond of thinking “If the symbolism fits, wear it.”

Then I started critiquing Haggadah in order to write my own–which made me question some of the conclusions of the Messianic Haggadah I was reading. For instance, I’ve seen Messianic Haggadah that impart ritual meaning to the roasted egg that is traditionally placed on the Haggadah platter. This struck me as odd since this particular ritual was clearly initiated after the time of Christ because it did not begin until after the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

This made me particularly conscious of making sure that I had Scriptural support for how I interpreted the symbols of the Haggadah.

Nevertheless, I still worked at my Haggadah for years before I bothered to check out some of the critical scholarship on the origins of the Haggadah.

What I found disappointed me temporarily.

Apparently, the best scholarship says that the Haggadah as we know it today was written around AD 200-400.

Yes, that would be after the time of Christ.

My heart was broken. All this work, wasted. All this beautiful symbolism ultimately worthless.

And then I realized that the written Haggadah isn’t the be-all-end-all for the Seder. Just because the Haggadah (literally the “telling”) wasn’t written down until AD 200-400 doesn’t mean that the form (the symbols and traditions) of the Haggadah wasn’t in place before then.

In fact, I have good reason to believe that many of the symbols and traditions of the Haggadah were in place at the time of Christ.


And…thanks to my explanation getting close to 1000 words, my “side note” post has been split into a “side note” series–further emphasizing, perhaps, how very excited I get about the Passover.

Deepening my understanding of the four cups

March 14th, 2012

For all of my Haggadot reading and reading about the Haggadah, it wasn’t until I was reading a children’s book, Wonders and Miracles: A Passover Companion written and compiled by Eric A. Kimmel, that I began to see the deep significance of the four cups.

Kimmel wrote:

Why do we drink four cups of wine? Why not three or seven?

The traditional explanation is that we drink four cups to celebrate God’s promise of freedom. God told Moses to say to the Children of Israel, ‘I am God, and I will free you from the bondage of Egypt; I will deliver you from your servitude; I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you to be my people and I will be your God. And you will know that I am the Lord God who rescued you from the bondage of Egypt.’ (Exodus 6:6-7)

…There are four parts to God’s promise to free the Israelites from slavery. In honor of that promise, every Jewish person, no matter how poor, is required to drink four cups of wine at the Seder.

Finally, I understood the names.

Each cup represents one of God’s “I will” claims in this passage. The cup of sanctification: “I will bring you out.” The cup of deliverance: “I will rescue you from their bondage.” The cup of redemption: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” The cup of rejoicing: “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.”

This first cup is the cup of sanctification. God said to the Israelites: “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” To sanctify is to bring out, to set apart. In bringing Israel out of the land of Egypt, God set them apart as His own chosen people. Likewise, we who have been brought out of bondage to sin have been set apart as the chosen of God.

The second cup reminds us of the second promise in Exodus 6:6-7 is “I will rescue you from their bondage.” This second cup is the cup of deliverance. In Christ, the bondage of sin has been broken.

The third promise of God in Exodus 6:6-7 is “I will redeem you.” The corresponding cup is the cup of redemption. It is this cup that Christ took up after supper, declaring it to be His own blood, shed for us, for the remission of sins. Paul reminds us that “in the same manner, He also took the cup after supper, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

The third cup was the one most emphasized in my childhood Seder. It is the one we drink over and over again every time we come to the Lord’s table. It is the cup of redemption-the cup that indicates the price has been paid, redemption accomplished. We receive Christ’s blood (metaphorically), taking it into ourselves, recognizing the price paid for our redemption.

Here ends the symbolism of the four cups.

Right?

The Christian Haggadot I’ve read and used act as though the symbolism is complete with these three cups.

I disagree, as you shall see.


This is the second part in a four-part series on the four cups of the Seder. Stay tuned for the rest of the posts, which I’ll be rolling out next week.

My First Seder and the Four Cups

March 13th, 2012

I was eight years old or so and I wanted to finally be allowed to take communion at church.

Unlike the Catholic church or Lutheran church or other denominations that have a set schedule for “first communion” or “confirmation”, our church left that decision up to parents.

My parents wanted to make sure me and my sister (who was also clamoring for communion) understood what communion is all about.

So they bought a copy of Martha Zimmerman’s Celebrating Biblical Feasts and hastily prepared a Passover Seder.

So began my love affair with the Haggadah, one that has only deepened over time. In the almost twenty years since my first Passover, I have read dozens of incarnations of the Haggadah. Christian Haggadot. Judaic Haggadot. Secular Haggadot (which seems a contradiction in terms, but I assure you that secular Jews try their hardest).

I love the way the Haggadah points to Christ. I love the way Jesus fulfilled the traditions of Judaism (as well as its laws). I love unwrapping layer upon layer of meaning.

Martha Zimmerman’s Haggadah sparked something inside of me–but it and the host of other Christian Haggadah I’ve read and performed have left me still discontent.

They’re missing my favorite part.

Twenty years ago, my parents prepared a Seder so that my sister and I could understand the meaning of the cup. Now, twenty years later, I’m still marveling over the cup–and am disappointed that my first Christian Haggadah (and later Christian Haggadot) didn’t go deeper into the cups.

The Seders I grew up with numbered the four cups per tradition, and even gave them their traditional names. The Cup of Sanctification. The Cup of Deliverance. The Cup of Redemption. The Cup of Rejoicing. But those names were little more that the subheading before the blessing. Not one Haggadah bothered to explain where these names came from–or what they meant.


This is the first part in a four-part series on the four cups of the Seder. Stay tuned for the rest of the posts, which will be rolling out over the next couple of weeks.

The Four Cups

April 3rd, 2010

Last night, my family celebrated our annual Passover Seder. This is probably my favorite holiday ever because of the rich symbolism and powerful liturgy surrounding it.

Jews have been celebrating the Passover Seder for millenia, commemorating God’s delivering them from slavery in Egypt.

The Haggadah (Order of Service for the Seder) contains four cups of wine. They are named based the acts of God promised in Exodus 6:6-7 and are consumed in sequence throughout the liturgy.

“Therefore, say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.'”
Exodus 6:6-7

The first cup is the cup of sanctification. “I will bring you out…” God promised that He would bring Israel out, set them apart. To sanctify, to set apart. So too, we who are in Christ have been sanctified, set apart, brought out from the burden of the law.

The second cup is the cup of deliverance. “I will rescue you…” God promised that He would rescue Israel from bondage to Egypt. To deliver, to rescue. So too, we who are in Christ have been delivered, rescued from bondage to sin.

The third cup is the cup of redemption. “I will redeem you…” God promised that He would redeem Israel (purchase their ransom) with great signs. In Jesus’ Last Passover, “He took the [third] cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.'” (Luke 22:20) Jesus raised the third cup and endued the cup of redemption with even more symbolism. This cup is not just commemorating the purchase of Israel from Egypt with great signs. It commemorates, too, the ransom Christ Jesus paid with His own blood to redeem His own from their sins.

The fourth cup is the cup of rejoicing. “I will take you…” God promised that He would take Israel to Himself, that they would be His people and He would be their God. And Israel rejoices in this promise. Jesus did not drink this cup in His last supper. After He had distributed the third cup, He told His disciples, “I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt 26:29) This cup had not yet been fulfilled, would not be fulfilled for years to come. But Jesus anticipates the day when He shall take His people to Himself, when they shall be His people and He shall be their God. Revelation 21 tells of the fulfillment of this promise: “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain…” (Rev 21:3-4) It is in that Day that we shall join with Christ in the New Jerusalem and drink with Him the fourth cup, the cup of rejoicing.

And every year, after we have drunk of the fourth cup, anticipating the joy that awaits us in Christ’s kingdom fulfilled, we conclude our Passover Seder with the traditional shout: “Next year in Jerusalem!”

My heart beats fast and my spirit cries out: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

This Seder is a beautiful one. It is every year. But my heart longs for the final Seder, the wedding feast of the Lamb. My heart longs for the consummation of that promise “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” I long for His kingdom to come, that in the New Jerusalem we may drink with Him the cup He has held off drinking for millenia–the cup of rejoicing in the fulfillment of His promise.

And the echo of the shout continues to resound within me: “Next year, next year in the New Jerusalem!”

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