The Seder Meal is the center piece of the Jewish celebration of Passover. The Seder is taken in remembrance and celebration of the Exodus and the promises made by God to His chosen people.
There is a great deal of scholarly debate about whether Jesus celebrated a traditional Seder Meal as what we Christians call the Last Supper. We do know that 1) the meal was taken during Passover and 2) it included many elements of the Seder Meal. Among them was the drinking of 3 of the 4 cups of the Seder.
The Seder Meal
The Jewish Seder meal is a ritual. It includes the consumption of carefully defined foods and wine along with reciting of ritual prayers. The Jewish Seder is a wonderful tradition, reminding the Jews of their history (especially their Egyptian bondage and the Exodus) and fulfilling God’s command of the Shema (Deut. 6:4-10)
The Four Cups of the Seder
The Four Cups of the Seder are taken in remembrance of promises made by God to His chosen people in Exodus 6:6-7:
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring
you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from
being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm
and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people,
and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your
God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”
The First Cup: Sanctification
“I will take you out of Egypt.” When the Israelites were taken out of Egypt, they were set apart from other people.
The Hebrew word used in the Seder is Kiddush,, which means to “set apart.” God’s chosen people are set apart from all others.
The Second Cup: Deliverance
“I will deliver you from (Egyptian) slavery.” To the Israelites, this meant that they were no longer under the yoke of Egyptian tyranny.
The Third Cup: Redemption
“I will redeem you with My power.” To be redeemed is to be freed or delivered from sin.
The Fourth Cup: Restoration
“I will acquire you as My people and I will be your God.”
The Cups of the Last Supper
In the Upper Room Jesus took only three of the four cups of the Jewish Seder. The first two, He took in the traditional way. But the Third Cup was different, very different. The Third Cup, the Cup of Redemption is what we celebrate in our sacrament of Holy Communion in Christianity today. “This is My blood…” “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
It is through the blood of Jesus Christ that we are redeemed today. It is His blood that washes away our sins.
Jesus refused the Fourth Cup. In fact, as He prayed in the Garden He said: “Take from Me this cup…” He was referring to the Fourth Cup, the Cup of Restoration. He also said that He would not drink this Cup until His return. It is then that all believers will be fully restored. It is then that the Fourth Promise will be fulfilled. It is THEN that we will fully and completely be His People.
Alive in The Word
My friends, if you’ve never participated in a Seder I truly hope you will be able to do so. It is extraordinarily powerful.