Posts Tagged ‘symbolism’

The Cup of Rejoicing

March 29th, 2012

Jesus sang a hymn before ending his Last Seder on this earth, but He stopped short of consuming the fourth cup.


I addressed this briefly in my previous post, but I believe the reason was that Jesus had reached the end of the “now” section of the Seder–and the fourth cup was the “not yet.”

The first three of the four “I will” statements of Exodus 6:6-7 were fulfilled in Christ’s death. “I will bring you out”–sanctification for those who are in Christ. “I will rescue you”–deliverance from the power of sin and death. “I will redeem you”–redemption through the blood of Christ. Jesus died, was buried, and rose from the dead to accomplish those three things. In Christ’s death and resurrection, they were done, finished.

The fourth statement, though, still waits for its consummation.

“I will take you as my people.” This is the cup of rejoicing. This will not be fully seen until the church stands before Christ, spotless as a bride prepared for her Bridegroom (Revelation 21:2).

On that day, in Paradise, Jesus will celebrate his final Seder. He will take his bride to Himself as His own, and together they shall drink the cup of rejoicing.

“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)

The fourth promise of Exodus 6:6-7 and Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:29 parallel Revelation 21:

“I will take you as My people, and I will be your God” in Exodus 6 parallels Revelation 21:3, “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

Jesus’ words “when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29) parallel Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

This is why in my Haggadah, I introduce the fourth cup with these words:

“This is the fourth and final cup—the cup of rejoicing. Exodus 6:6-7 says ‘And I shall take you to Me for a people.’ Jesus did not drink this glass. In fact, He proclaimed that He would not drink it until ‘that day when [He] drink[s] it new with [us] in [His] Father’s kingdom.’ Jesus reserved the cup of rejoicing for that day when the consummation of that promise will occur. ‘I shall take you to Me.’ Soon, that day shall come, the wedding feast of the Lamb, when the bride shall be united with her Bridegroom. As John testified, ‘And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “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, for the former things have passed away.”‘ And on that day, we shall drink of the cup of rejoicing.”

This is why I have the blessing over the fourth cup read:

“Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, who has betrothed us to Yourself. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, in whom we rejoice.”

And this is why I close my Seder with two familiar refrains, one from the very last pages of Scripture; the other from the last words of the traditional Haggadah:

“And so we end the Passover Seder.
We have completed it with all its customs and laws
We have been privileged to celebrate this year
And with the Spirit and the Bride to declare
‘Come quickly, Lord Jesus’
God most gracious, holy, pure
Restore your people that speedily we might return
Redeemed, to Zion, with joy.
Next year in Jerusalem!

This is the final part in a four-part series on the four cups of the Seder. Thanks for joining me as I share one of my great passions–Christ as displayed through the 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.

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.


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.

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