Summary: This is part I in the series - 24. It is a first person narrative account from the owner of the upper room. The Preaching Idea: Give Christ the place of honor in your life.
They were 24 hours that would forever change the world. No war or time of peace, no government or nation, no army or ruler has or ever will impact the course of human history in the profound manner in which that one day did. From sundown to sundown it was by far the worst and best day the world has ever known.
During this season of Lent as we journey toward that day we’ll be drawing from details as they are given in the Word of God as well as from tools such as Jewish Encyclopedias and commentaries in order to relive the stories that we will hear. Over the course of the next six Sundays we will meet six individuals, some whose lives were remembered in the pages of Scripture and some whose lives were not. Some whose lives were documented, others who can only be brought to life through our imaginations, but all who were there the day the world changed.
Your Bible doesn’t give me a name. But this story really isn’t about me. It’s about a man and a meal.
I lived in what you now know as the first century in the city of Jerusalem. It wasn’t a bad time to live in Jerusalem. Apart from the Roman occupation, the city was thriving like never before. Herod the great had transformed this city as no one since the great Solomon had. He’d built palaces and citadels, a theater and an amphitheater, and bridges and monuments. While all of it had been done to increase his capital’s importance in the eyes of Rome, we the citizens of Jerusalem didn’t fair too badly. Granted, there were people in the city who were more financially set than I was, but my family and I were doing just fine.
We lived in the southwest corner of the city, a neighborhood known for its limestone one and two story houses that sat almost on top of each other and for its winding dirt streets and alleys. While it wasn’t the richest part of town, the great thing about our neighborhood is that I was able to work where I lived and live where I worked. In fact one of the unique characteristics of our community is that we lived with those with whom we worked. We built houses together and even had our own synagogues where we would go to hear the Scriptures read and taught.
Our neighborhood was what you might call today a “blue-collar” community. We were weavers, dyers, potters, bakers, tailors, carpenters, metal workers, and olive grove farmers. And we had plenty of work to do especially during the great feasts.
You see three times a year our city would grow from its normal population of 25,000 to well over 100,000 for an entire week. From all over, my fellow Jews who lived outside of Jerusalem would come to town. They had no choice. Jerusalem wasn’t just a thriving center of commerce but it was the heart of the entire Jewish world.
If you had visited my city for the first time and made the difficult ascent from Jericho, as you rounded the Mount of Olives you would have been dazzled by the sight of one of the most glorious structures ever erected – the Temple. That gold and gleaming structure was the heart of the city – for that matter it was the heart of God’s world – because it was God’s dwelling place. And three times a year these other Jews who didn’t live there had to make a pilgrimage home to worship and celebrate there in God’s city during one of our religious feasts.
It was Spring time. And one of the most important feasts of our faith was about to get underway. If you know much about my people you’re aware of our history with the Pharaoh and Moses and our Exodus from Egypt. You may also be aware of the night when God dealt the final blow that would cause Pharaoh to let us go. God was going to send the angel of death to kill every first-born son throughout the land of Egypt. But He told us that we if we would slaughter a lamb and take its blood and mark our doorposts we would be spared from this horror. That night after God carried out his terrible sentence, Pharaoh was so upset that he demanded that we leave. And we left so fast that we didn’t even have time to let our bread rise.
Every year thereafter we’ve celebrated those events and remembered God’s mercy and deliverance by again telling that story and participating in those same actions of slaughtering a lamb and making bread without leaven. It’s become a feast, the Passover Feast, or the Feast of the Unleavened Bread as it’s some times called and is one of the most important feasts to our people.