A Great Misunderstanding

God is not against a certain sort of misunderstanding. When the Lord delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage, He instituted an annual feast for them to remember what He did. It was called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or the Passover Feast, a commemmoration that the death angel passed over the Hebrew families on his way to kill all the firstborn from Pharaoh’s house to the farm.

A common concern with religous externals is that, after a while, someone new will come along who won’t know what all the ceremony is for. God Himself addresses this possibility when He instituted the feast. God not only told the Israelites how to hold the feast, but also what to do when their junior high boys asked, “Why?”

[W]hen in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ (Exodus 13:14–15, ESV)

The ignorance on the part of sons and strangers was not a problem per se, it was an open door. As kids watched their dads prepare the feast, of course they would wonder what it was about. This is a great misunderstanding, not because misunderstanding itself is good, but because misunderstanding provides a platform to proclaim God’s deliverance. Even if the young ones didn’t get it the first time, the next year would bring another opportunity.

Our meal at the Lord’s Table is similar. One of the ways God keeps us from becoming worn in externals is to give us new generations of sons and daughters who don’t get it. He brings visitors who watch this strange feast and need some explanation. We don’t shy away from our celebrating because others might be confused. We ought to be celebrating in such a way that causes interested questions.

God has delivered us from our bondage to sin. We did not kill a lamb and paint its blood over our doorposts. Instead, God killed His Son, the Lamb of God, and painted His blood over the charges against us. Jesus Christ gave His body and blood so that we might have life. Our communion together begs for this good news to be told again and again.