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Passover and Pentecost: Redemption Journey (part 5)

Post Title: The Discipling Power of Passover

Lesson Six: Passover teaches disciples of Jesus that God's focus, his divine priority is the family.

Redemption begins in the home. It doesn't start in a church building or a Pentecostal tent revival. God's redemption begins with a family around a table, eating a Passover lamb whose blood has been placed on the entrance to that house with branches of hyssop. Here is where the extraordinary journey of redemption truly begins.

Redemption is personal, familial, communal, and cosmic. Family is God's priority.

At a conference in Atlanta, I met a man who at one time pastored one of the largest Pentecostal churches in America. He had resigned and was now pastoring a church of thirty-five families in a different context. Among the things they do to foster discipleship in the home is to help families keep Sabbath in non-legalistic ways, to experience the freedom of the gift. It has revitalized his congregation.

They discovered that the spiritual authority that should reside in the husband is taken from him in the context of theater productions at church. What does that mean? Quite simply, the pastors perform the acts of spirituality and become de facto spiritual heads. Said another way, the church is seen as the locus of spiritual growth, diminishing parents' role to foster spiritual growth in the home. The biblical picture is out of balance.

Your home is a little temple; it is a little sanctuary. A rabbi does not come into the house and lead the Passover meal. It is the father or grandfather because we are to be a kingdom of priests. The father leads, but the whole family retells the story of God's great deliverance as the eldest son asks four prompting questions like this, "How is this night different from all other nights?" It is a family affair.

Assembling as God's congregation—biblically speaking—is to be people, not program-oriented. Programs have their place only when they meet the standard of empowering God's people to grow into their role as his royal priesthood.

Please don't misunderstand me; this is not an us versus them scenario. Nor am I pitting one thing against another. We are our own worst enemy in all this because we want to go to the theater to be spiritually entertained and intellectually stimulated. We want to be encouraged by a sermon so we can get through the coming week.

Yet God is seeking partners. He is looking for priests who will bring righteous sacrifices to him, for couples who will sanctify the home and prioritize raising children as image-bearers of the living God.

Why is the church so impotent in this world? Because our theaters do not impress the world.

I was once part of a large church that put on a spectacular Easter production. At great expense they engaged a famous singing couple and brought in, from Las Vegas, a series of 200 fountainheads controlled by a computer which co-ordinated the fountain spray to the music. Thousands came to witness this. At the end of one production a godly man stood up and said, "Glory to God, Hollywood ain't got nothing on us." He was right, but he was terribly wrong.

Jesus could have put on a production to end all productions. He could have called for heavenly legions, and there would have been a battle like you have never seen. He could have pulled back the robes of his flesh and revealed his glory. He could have entertained the masses either on the Temple Mount or at a Roman amphitheater like the one at Caesarea. Night after night he could have filled them all with free meals and miraculous signs and wonders!

Jesus was not interested in theater productions because he was about the Father's work of making and building up disciples. It is into this business he calls us.

This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. ~ Exodus 12:14

Passover reminds us that discipleship begins in the home, the biblically ordained center of learning and wisdom. Discipleship happens when you look at the shank bone and remember the Passover lamb. You taste the bitter herb to relive the suffering of slavery. You eat the unleavened bread and collectively call to mind that on this night, there was no leaven in the bread because we had to make haste. Tonight, we begin, again, the great adventure of redemption.

Notice how the Passover meal engages every sense organ. It is a divinely designed feast for the whole person because redemption is for the whole person. It is ironic how the historical church—bold about being free from Jewish roots—has spoken of itself as rich. From where I sit, we have been robbed of a vital part of our heritage. And we are poorer at so many levels as a result.

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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

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