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lit candles November 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Mark 14:22-31; Matthew 26:26-35; Luke 22:15-20, 31-38; John 13:31–14:31

Remember Me

Candles are often lit in remembrance or in prayer for a person. However, candle lights are also meant to be shared. If a head of a family must leave for a very long time, or a CEO must leave his organization for a very long time, or if he were going to die, he wants to be remembered. He does not want just his face to be remembered; he wants his teachings, way of life, discipline, and policies to be remembered so that they might be followed and hopefully lead his family or organization to succeed. He wants to pass the light of his candle onto others. If a leader is wise, he will do things to try to ensure the flame will continue. This is what Jesus does with his closest followers, the eleven remaining disciples (remember from our last Bible study that Judas Iscariot left the table to betray him).

In today's Bible reading it is the time of the yearly Passover Feast, where all the Jews (especially males; Exodus 23:17) assemble in Jerusalem in remembrance of their ancestors' deliverance from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12). It is a dangerous place and time for Jesus and his disciples—the religious leaders are determined to kill him right after the feast! They are jealous of his popularity with common people, and they perceive him to be a threat to their positions of religious authority and favor with the Roman government. Jesus' crucifixion is just a week away. Tough times will come upon his disciples after he leaves, so Jesus gives them (and us) something by which to remember him.

Jesus uses the Passover as a symbol of his sacrifice. The Passover Feast is the first night of an eight-day feast, called the Feast of Unleavened Bread (bread made without yeast). The Passover Feast is a 1500 year-old tradition. It memorializes a time in Moses’ day when the Israelites slaughtered perfect unblemished yearling lambs, and with a hyssop plant applied the animals' blood upon the sides and tops of the doorframes of their dwellings as God instructed. “That same night they [were] to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast” (Exodus12:8, NIV). The bitter herbs reminded them of their bondage in Egypt. The lamb was killed to symbolize a perfect substitutionary sacrifice to free the Israelites from the curse (or last plague) of death. The meat was roasted and eaten by all. Unleavened bread was also eaten to remind them of the haste by which they had departed from Egypt. It also symbolized purity. When the death angel saw the blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their houses, he passed over them; the death plague on the first-born sons did not affect them.

Jesus, knowing that he will soon be crucified, raised from the dead, and then shortly thereafter return to God his heavenly Father, gives new meaning to the Passover. Jesus previously told his disciples, the religious leaders, and his other followers that he was the bread of life which came from heaven, similar to the manna which came from heaven in the days of Moses. This bread of life is his flesh, which he will give for the world (John 6:32-63). The yeast-less bread now becomes a symbol of his body, soon to be affixed to a rough hewn wooden cross when he is crucified. The wine, typically drunk with the meal, now becomes a symbol of the blood he will spill for the Jews, and later for all people, when the nails pierce his hands and feet, and a sword pierces his side.

When Jewish believers thereafter gather for the Passover Feast and partake of the unleavened bread and wine, they will remember that it was a Passover night when Jesus was betrayed and crucified. He is the lamb which was slain for their deliverance from the bondage of sin, which leads to death.

Yeast-less bread (matzo, crackers, or Communion Bread) and wine (or grape juice) are used today in Communion Services in congregations of both Messianic Jews and non-Jewish (Gentile) believers. The bread and the cup are sobering reminders of Jesus’ great sacrifice for our sins. We partake of these elements to remind us that we have partaken of Christ spiritually by belief in his sacrifice for us (more...). Because he sacrificed himself for us, we should sacrifice our lives daily for him (Romans 12:1). These symbols helped the disciples get through tough times of persecution for Jesus sake. Remembering Jesus’ sacrifice can help us through tough times as well.

A loved one or a CEO leaving or dying can cause a lot of grief. Jesus' disciples, learning of his departure, are grieved. Knowing he will soon be going away, Jesus shares the larger plan of God to help his disciples endure it. Their beloved friend comforts them saying,

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3, NIV).

The larger scheme of God’s program is that Jesus will return to heaven to prepare a place for his disciples. Later, he will come back for them and for all of us who have trusted in him for our salvation. This information brings comfort to them and us.

Second, to help the disciples, Jesus leaves someone in charge who has the same nature, love and commitment, and who will empower them to do even greater works than he. Jesus gives the Holy Spirit of God to his disciples. The Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are of the same origin—God. Jesus says to the disciples, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another [the word ‘another’ means ‘another of the same kind’] Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth” (John 14:16, NIV). It is a great comfort to Christians that the Holy Spirit is with us when we are converted. He will be with us until the Lord comes back. He will comfort and encourage us to endure persecution and empower us to do God’s will. He will help us pass the flame of God's love and the gospel to others.

Last, Jesus leaves his disciples (and us Christians) with hope. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18, NIV). This is great news! Jesus is coming back! He will come back to set up his kingdom, a kingdom of peace which will never end. The faithful will rule and reign with him.

Lessons to Live By

  • The yeast-less bread and the cup of wine or grape juice are symbols of Jesus' sacrifice for our sins on the cross. When we remember them, we proclaim Christ's death until he comes; it is a gospel witness.
  • Because Jesus sacrificed himself for us, we can sacrifice ourselves for others so the gospel might be proclaimed.
  • The death of God's Son provided a sacrifice for the sins of the entire world (John 3:16, more... ). He is now in heaven preparing a place for us who have trusted in Christ.
  • When Jesus left earth to go back to his Father in heaven, he left the Holy Spirit of God with his disciples and us believers. He comforts and encourages us in our trials and empowers us to do all of God's holy will. He will help us pass the flame of God's love and the gospel to others.
  • Our beloved Lord left us with hope, a confidence that we are not left alone and that he is coming back for us. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Focus Verse

John 14:1 (NIV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: Knowing that his betrayal and crucifixion is at hand, Jesus leaves his disciples with some Final Instructions. These also affect us today. Learn more about them in our Next Lesson.

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