I wonder if the disciples celebrated Passover with heavy hearts.
Passover celebrated Israel’s deliverance from slavery. As Death and Destruction killed Egypt’s firstborn, they passed over Israelite homes because the blood of a sacrificed lamb marked their doors. The dark night birthed a new dawn for God’s people. The disciples knew the story well. But wasn’t it a painful tradition in the face of their current reality? They lived under the oppression of Roman rule; in fact, God’s people had lived under the grip of oppression for hundreds of years. Was it challenging to celebrate God’s powerful intervention in history when tomorrow was yet another day under the Romans’ rule?
But like their ancestors, God saw their suffering and remembered his people. And like their ancestors, God would rescue them and deliver them from evil. The disciples didn’t realize the words of the law and the prophets were being fulfilled in their presence.
“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me’” (Luke 22:19).
The bread eaten at Passover was unleavened, a reminder that the liberated Israelites had to escape Egypt quickly. Unleavened bread was also understood to symbolize affliction and humility. Alongside this, an innocent lamb was sacrificed, its body broken to help God’s people toward freedom.