In Matthew 12:8, Mark 2: 28, and Luke 6:5 is the story of the disciples harvesting and eating grain on the Sabbath. Jesus’ replied to those complaining, “The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Then not much more is said about this passage/idea. In John’s story of the crucifixion that statement is made very clear!
John’s Gospel has the most references to Passover, especially the three that Jesus spent with His disciples, but the last one, John 12 -20, will be our focus for this blog.
John 12: 1 timestamps the action as “six days before Passover.” This is when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet.
John 13: 1 is “just before Passover” and it would have been the Thursday of that week.Jesus sends Peter and John off to prepare for the eating of the Passover meal. But Thursday is before what the Jews would call the “Day of Preparation”, when they would kill the Lamb and paint the doorframe.
John 18: 28 is early on Friday morning the “Day of Preparation” and the Jews are trying to stay “Clean” so they can eat the Passover.
John 19: 14, 31, and 42 again mentions the “Day of Preparation.” Christians now call this Good Friday. This is when the Jews would have killed the lambs and is when Jesus died.
John 20: 1 is “early on the first day of the week.” Christians call this Easter!
So why does this make Jesus Lord of the Sabbath? Is our communion really the same as the Passover sharing of wine and bread? Is Easter and Passover the same thing?
I will answer these questions this way: Jesus and the disciples broke tradition and ate the “Passover Meal” and shared communion twenty-four hours to soon. So even though these things happen around Passover they did not happen ON Passover! Jesus did something new but He had to so that He could fulfill the requirementsof Passover. It is probable that He died just as the lambs were being killed in the Temple for the Passover meal.
I see this as Jesus doing what had to be done to fulfill all things of the Law! I am not sure that for us it should cause a major change in traditions, but it does show that Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath and all of our holidays.
SECOND THOUGHT – Did the disciples understand what was happening when they ate early? If they did were they questioning Jesus as to why?
This study started with Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21 and as usual it spread from there. The fact that it is paired with the Parable of the Mustard Seed in both of these passages is important. Jesus was showing the importance of small things done in and for His kingdom. Many times we overlook the little things we do as not important. Most of the literature I read about yeast in ancient cultures seemed to agree that they did not know about the yeast cell and that they were infusing something living into the bread dough. In our normal thinking that would be right because microscopes were not around but you have to wonder if Jesus knew!
Depending on the translation you will need to look for the words yeast, leavened, and unleavened if you want to study more on this topic. KJV does not have the word yeast but NIV does.
The amount of flour was interesting as the passages stress it was a large amount. In the NIV that amount is referenced three times: Genesis 18: 6, Judges 6:19, and in 1 Samuel 1:24. In Genesis, Abraham tells Sarah to make that much bread for the visitors. In Judges, Gideon uses that much flour to make a meal for the angel and in Samuel Hannah took that much flour with her as an offering when she dedicated her son to God. The amount roughly translates to twenty quarts or forty cups. If you have ever made bread that is enough for at least eight to ten loaves of bread. The regular offering amount with a sacrifice would have been four quarts. I guess Abraham and Gideon were putting their “best foot forward” to impress their guests or to make sure they had extra to take with them.
In 1 Corinthians 5: 6- 8 Paul clearly says to get rid of the “old yeast” (NIV) because Jesus had gone through the Passover. But he names the yeast as “malice and wickedness,” which is also done in other places in the Gospels and the New Testament (the yeast were named Ex. yeast of the Pharisees and Herod). If you have ever used a sourdough starter you may understand the idea of old/bad yeast. If the starter goes bad you WANT to throw it away and start over, as it really smells bad.
At a small home fellowship, we once attended the pastor had an interesting revelation during communion one Sunday. (We used real wine and sometimes yeast bread. I know but that is what happened. We also used saltines if that is all we had.) Anyway for the wine and the bread to become what they were many grapes and grains of wheat were brought together but it required yeast to convert them into that usable form.
A final thought on wine and yeast. Wine/beer was/is made with the action of yeast. Wine was allowed/required to be presented as part of the offering at a sacrifice (Leviticus 23:13). The yeast in wine makes enough alcohol to kill itself and when bread is baked that normally kills off the yeast. One was required and the other was forbidden! The Biology teacher in me still will wonder if it has something to do with the living organism? NOTE: From my reading, the Egyptians apparently made their beer from baked bread.
When it comes to symbolism what better icon is there than the grape plant for representing the Church of Jesus? Jesus used it in parables, it is part of our communion and it is referred to throughout Scriptures. Now as with most symbols you can attach several meanings to grapes and its vines; I am going to look at a few and let God reveal others to you.
Part of Communion – The wine is to represent the Blood of Jesus. * Sorry, I did not say grape juice! I do go to a church that uses grape juice but ancient Israel would have had to ferment it in order to keep it. Several churches I know use grape juice so as to not have weaker Christians stumble and I am good with that!* But wine is a “living drink” having come from many individual grapes all put together and joined by yeast (it does not have to symbolize sin) to become something new. Yeast in Luke 13:21 is used as a picture of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus refers to Himself, as the Vine and we, the Church, are the branches. John 15:5
Nazirites – People separated to God for a season could not eat or drink any part of the grape plant while under the vow. (Look in Numbers 6 and remember that Samson was a Nazirite and so was John the Baptist, probably.) Interesting type and shadow, that people in the Old Testament who choose to get close to God had to give up grapes, a symbol for the church.
Medicine – In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul urges Timothy to use a little wine because of his stomach; the alcohol can kill germs.
The vine in Judges 9: 12+13 – refuses to rule over other plants so that it can do its job. I did not find any reference to a “vine” that was not grape.
Misuse of wine – I guess the one that stands out is Noah getting drunk after the Flood. Proverbs 20: 1- “Wine is a mocker” (NIV) speaks for its self or Proverbs 23:29-35, “When will I awake so I can get another drink.”
Raisins – They are grapes with most of the water (Holy Spirit) taken out of them but they still can revive a weak individual. Ex. 1 Samuel 30:12
However you view wine drinking is between you and Jesus but the grape plant and its fruit is and always will be part of Church symbolism.
First, my apology to anyone who is not familiar with American slang; the word “nut” can carry several meanings and for this blog it is someone who is crazy (at least according to worldly standards).
The main story of the Recab family is found in Jeremiah 35. Here the prophet Jeremiah is instructed by God to have all of the men of the family come to the Temple and serve them wine. No pressure right, THE MAN of God invites you to church and expects you to join in “the boys night out” he is throwing. They refuse and state that they don’t drink because of a long-standing family tradition. (Drinking alcohol is not the point but it could be; I know it is a very volatile topic. I don’t drink because it is one thing that God delivered me from when I got saved. I have found out through the years that it is not me who is uncomfortable with not drinking but the drinkers around me.) They also state another family tradition of not owning houses or planting fields. Now all of this combined for some people would qualify them as “NUTS”, no “American Dream” of your own house; then to top all of that off they tell the man of God, NO.
So who were these Recabites who would say no when put into such a pressure situation? According to 1 Chronicles 2:55 they are one of the family groups that came from Caleb, the faithful spy in the Exodus story. Now there are several “Recabs” in the Bible and not all of them are from Caleb and when you read verse 55 you may recognize Kenites and again there are several groups with this name that do not seem to be related. But more specifically they may have come from the Jehonadab who sided with Jehu in 2 Kings 10 (it makes you wonder if they are part of the 7000 in 1 Kings 19) to get rid of Ahab and the prophets of Baal. So taking a stand and following God was a long time family tradition for the Recabites. And in Jeremiah 35:19 God honors them because they honored the instructions of their ancestors. With a promise to always have a family member who serves God!