Now you shall eat it in this manner: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’S Passover.
When God gave instruction about the Passover meal, He was very specific about things that I feel like I have overlooked. For example, God tells the people that they are to eat this meal with their loins girded, meaning their clothing was to be ready for quick travel or heavy labor; cinched at the waist and leaving the legs the most freedom of movement. They are to eat the meal with their sandals on [their] feet, meaning they were to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. This would have been quite odd, as normal meals involved taking off the shoes and washing the feet so as to be relaxed and enjoy the meal. The fact that they were to have their staff in [their] hand tells me that the journey they were prepped to make quickly and at a moment’s notice was a long one. You only took your staff for long journeys. A short trip — just down the street or the next town over — required no staff. There were unlikely to be wild animals or anything that you would need the staff’s help to negotiate. But a long journey necessitated a staff. Finally, they were to eat it in haste. This was not to be the normal, leisurely meal that was common in the ancient near east, but a quick consumption of food so as to be ready when the time came to start the trip.
When Jesus instituted what Christians call Communion or The Lord’s Supper, He did so near the end of the Passover meal. If they were following the instructions given to Moses, then they would have been reclining at the table, but totally ready to go whenever the time came, which jives well with them finishing the meal and Jesus just walking right out to Gethsemane.
This brought a new thought to my mind as I read it. The Lord’s Supper is supposed to serve as a reminder of the broken body and shed blood of Jesus until He returns. I begin to wonder if there is significance in Jesus establishing Communion with the pattern of Passover as its basis. Jesus told the parable of the ten virgins — wherein five are prepared for the bridegroom when he shows up and five are not — and explains that the lesson to be learned is that the believer ought to always be ready for Jesus to return. I find myself wondering if Communion was supposed to carry that reminder as well. Passover bore within itself the message that Israel should be ready at any moment for God to deliver them. Should not Communion, with its roots sunk into Passover, remind me of the same thing?
The sudden return of Christ is not a new doctrine nor even a terribly controversial one, but I had not considered nor heard it taught that Communion might not only serve as a reminder of the New Covenant but also of the sure expectation that Christ will come suddenly to take me away.
In the midst of an increasingly chaotic world, I find comfort in the thought that Communion can now also remind me of Jesus’ return and how I need to be ready for it. I need to be busy in His work (loins girded); ready to go when He calls me (sandals on); prepared to go where He leads (staff in hand); not entangled in anything that would hold me back (eat in haste).
Father, thank You for this unexpected reminder that I need to be ready for You to return at any moment. Thank You that Communion now has an extra layer of meaning for me and can serve as a regular reminder to regularly check my readiness.