Jesus reclined at the table with His disciples in the upper room. “I have long desired to eat this Passover with you,” He told them.
To the men reclining with Him, this was no different than the two Passover celebrations they had observed with Him already. He knew that they did not, could not, fully understand. Their lives were about to change. Again. In a most unpleasant manner.
He led them through the ancient ritual, determined to savor each bite, burdened with the knowledge that The Passover of the Ages was about to unfold in a way these men would not fully grasp right away.
He said the words, dipped the bitter herb into the bowl of salt water and put it in His mouth. He did not hurry through this part as most do. The taste of the brine brought to his remembrance the tears of His people. He had watched those tears fall from every one of their eyes. The anguish of their cries still rang in His ears, now mingling with the cries of a whole world enslaved to sin. Now He saw the whole world’s tears.
Those saline drops on His tongue reminded Him of His own tears, so recently wept as He looked over His beloved city, teeming with citizens and pilgrims gathering for this Feast of Unleavened Bread. His heart wept anew for these children whom He so loved, because they had not recognized the hour of their visitation.
Salt is the flavor of tears.
Slowly He began to chew the salted herb and released its pungent flavor on His tongue. He made an involuntary face as the bite of the bitterness overtook the taste of salt in His mouth. He swallowed, but the bitterness lingered.
He closed His eyes and remembered each beloved face of every one of His children who had toiled as a slave under the pharaohs. In another second, He remembered the many more faces of those who were and are and will be enslaved and oppressed by sin.
Bitter is the flavor of slavery.
Despite the sweet smelling savor of the roasted lamb, He could barely get down the few bites of the tender flavorful meat. He remembered every lamb ever slaughtered in every Passover feast celebrated since that first Passover meal in Egypt on the night they left.
He thought of His cousin John’s words: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” His flesh shuddered as the dread of what He was about to do began to settle upon Him.
His throat felt dry.
He took the unleavened bread and looked at it. The bland, flat bread was a reminder of the haste of His people in their preparations to leave Egypt. He broke off a piece. He thought about how His own body would soon be broken and bade them each to take a piece for themselves.
“Take, eat. This is My body given for you for the forgiveness of sins.” He too ate of the bread.
The blandness gave way to a sweet aftertaste. His face broke into a smile as He saw His people free from slavery in Egypt, and now He saw these men sitting with Him free from their bondage to sin.
Sweet is the flavor of freedom.
He reached for Elijah’s Cup and He remembered the life-saving blood, smeared in deliberate strokes on the lintels and doorposts of the houses of His children in Egypt.
Then He thought about His own blood, which would soon be spilled so in the death of all men each might taste eternal life.
“This is the cup of my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
He sipped the sweet fermented wine that burst on His taste buds. He remembered every drop of blood spilled in this fallen world. He also remembered how He burst forth from the tomb that was about to hold His body of flesh from the foundation of the world.
“I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
Sweet and fresh and new is the flavor of forgiveness and new life.
His hour had arrived.
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