I heard a story some time ago about the Passover celebration the Hebrews used to observe while the Temple was still standing and would like to relate it here as best I can remember.
As the Passover was nearing, people form all over the country would begin coming into the city of Jerusalem. The city would swell with people. Every room would be full; every family would have relatives staying with them. People would cut palm fronds and pine boughs and stack them in front of their residence or hang them from their windows. At the beginning of the Passover week the high priest would lead a procession out of the Temple to one of the gates of the city three quarters of a mile a way. The temple priest would form a line all along the way holding their palm fronds, pine boughs or some green branch. The high priest would go out of the gate and to the hills of Bethlehem and few miles away to where the lamb that was chosen to be the last sacrifice of Passover was waiting. This lamb was specially raised by the priest and would have been what we would call a purple ribbon winner, spotless and perfect. The high priest would then lead the lamb along with a couple of priests who had followed him, back to the city gate. As they approach the gate and enter, one of the priests would shout with a loud voice "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!" then all the priest and people would start crying out the same words and laying their branches down as the high priest leads the lamb. They would sing out "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!" and lay the branches down all along the road all the way to the temple mount. Once there the lamb was staked out and watched for imperfection until Passover day when all the sacrificial lambs would be slain.
On that great day when Passover lamb slaying celebrations begin, the priest after observing the lamb staked out all week would once again walk up and look the lamb over. If he found no blemishes he would declare in a loud voice "I find no fault in him." Then would begin the slaying the lambs that were brought by the people. As the person bringing the lamb would lay their hand on the head of the lamb the priests would slit it's throat and catch as much blood as possible into a golden colored bowl polished to a mirror finish. There would be hundreds of priests lined up in a conveyor style line transferring the bowls of blood from the lambs to the altar and then back for more lambs blood. It must have been an awesome sight to observe from a distance as this was going on atop the temple mount the priest passing the bowls of blood along the sunlight gleaming from the mirror finish must have looked like liquid golden lightning flashing from the temple mount.
After all the other lambs were slain the priest would come over to where the last lamb was and in a loud voice cry out "I thirst" one of the attendants would give him a drink of water then he would slay the last lamb and cry out "it is finished".
Then began the days of preparation when the lambs that were slain were prepared for the Passover meal
On this particular day recorded in the New Testament comes Jesus on the back of a donkey as he approaches the gate before the priests get there one of his disciples cries out "Hosanna! " "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!" and the whole ceremony begins and after they lay their branches down Jesus rides by and the people see it is not the priest leading a lamb but Jesus on a donkey, the celebration continues as the cry rings out all the way to the temple. The religious leaders are offended that the ceremony is disrupted and ruined. They began to observe him as they would the lamb. Looking for fault, something to accuse him of. They couldn't find any fault in him so they tried to hire accusers but none agreed, they end up running him through a kangaroo court then bring him before Pilate. After Pilate questions him he declares, "I find no fault in him" at the same moment the high priest should be crying out on the temple mount "I find no fault in him."
He is mocked, bruised, and beaten in to a bloody mess. Then nailed to a cross, then as he hangs there bearing the sins of the whole world he cries out just as the priest at the temple is finishing and saying the same words "I thirst" and then a little while after again as the priest is saying it, Jesus says "it is finished" and he dies.
The last sacrifice, never again would an animal's blood be required or accepted. The Lamb of God had shed divine blood that reaches across ages for all who hear and believe.
This is the best I can tell the story from memory. I probably missed some things and got some things wrong.
I hope it brings out the difference between religious ceremony and the reality.
Some religious people think that eating a cracker and drinking wine is how you get Jesus Christ in you.
I tell you there is an eating that is done with the ear according to Isaiah.
1 "Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it's all free!2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.3 "Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
Some think that water baptism saves you. They as well have accepted the ceremony as the reality. How sad. It is the cleansing of the soul by the washing work of the Spirit by the word that is the reality. Not the removal of dirt from the skin.
In your life don't settle for the ceremony seek for the way, the reality and the life.
That doesn't mean you have to abandon ceremony. Ceremony is beautiful as long as it is understood to be an outward show of an inward reality.
God Bless you in your walk of faith in Christ,
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