As the days dragged on Jesus’ heart grew light despite the tiredness of the travel, He smiled as they crested the hill that would take Him to the road that flowed to His village. Oh how good it would be to see His family. As they wandered the familiar streets Jesus breathed in deeply the sounds and smells that took Him back to His childhood. He waved and smiled to the stall holders that recognized Him and hugged the relatives that rushed to Him. He purchased some fresh supplies to aid with tonight’s meal and made His way to His home. Walking in He was quickly wrapped in a big hug from Mary, she didn’t seem to want to let go “Oh it is so good to see you Son, welcome home!” Jesus laughed and relished in her words and embrace. Jesus made His way through the house to the adjoining workshop and found James and Joses busily working away, “hello!” He called out and they quickly dropped what they were doing and embraced him with whoops and hollers, “ah He has returned! Just in time to help us get this order done.” Jesus laughed, “of course you’d put me straight to work!”. The brothers caught up on the news until Mary called them in for dinner. The tiny home barely fitted the extra bodies, especially with many of Jesus’ family wanting to cram in to catch up with Him. The night passed quickly with much joy and laughter filling the home, Mary had to wipe the happy tears away from her eyes many times. In a particularly poignant moment Jesus caught hold of her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. The next few days passed with Jesus helping out in the workshop and He revelled in crafting things again, He worked hard to ensure that the large order would be finished before they all left for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The days passed quickly and before He knew it Jesus was back on the road.
Jesus and His family travelled with many cousins and friends; their large group ensured safety along the sometime treacherous road. Thankfully their trip proved to be an uneventful one and before they knew it the long journey had ended. The mood was one of jubilation as Jerusalem came into view, how all their hearts lifted. Mary had organised for most of them to stay with Rufus and Merry again, however this time it would be in their new home which was a larger place on the outskirts of town. As they departed from and made their way there Jesus looked at the hills and smiled, what fond memories He had of racing through there with His cousin John. Jesus was hoping that He would get a chance to catch up with His dear cousin, but Elizabeth had mentioned that she wasn’t sure He would be able to make this trip. Jesus prayed that they would connect again soon. Rufus and Merry’s new home was stunning, as they walked in they were guided to a large banquet hall that was busily being set up for the Passover celebration. The weary travellers gratefully sat down and allowed the servants to dip their feet in the cool water, Jesus felt as if the refreshing water washed off His dust and fatigue. They were next shown their rooms and quickly settled in. Once she had unpacked and freshened up Mary helped with the preparations. Jesus was shown the private garden by a beaming Rufus, he had painstakingly picked the plants for this area and the result was stunning. Jesus commented at how peaceful the area was and Rufus chuckled “Oh I’m so pleased to hear You say that, I really wanted it to be an oasis for our guests, a place where they could pray and be reminded of the garden of Eden.” Jesus smiled “It’s pretty close.”. They both stood and absorbed the peace of the garden before being called to help. With all the extra hands the preparations were quickly completed, and everyone took some time to change and have a few moments alone. Rufus ensured that the kitchen staff had a break before the evening festivities began and then spent some time praying in the garden. This Passover felt different and he couldn’t quite put his finger on why, after much prayer the answers hadn’t come so he sighed and quickly changed before calling everyone to the banquet hall. As people arrived downstairs they quickly took their assigned seats, Rufus and Merry were seated first, then quickly followed by the oldest to the youngest. Once all were seated the servants stepped forward and performed the ritual handwashing. Once every hand had been washed the first cup of wine was brought forth, when the jug was presented to Rufus he prayed:
“Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine. And you, O Lord our God, have given us festival days for joy, this feast of the unleavened bread, the time of our deliverance in remembrance of the departure from Egypt. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to enjoy this season.”
Rufus handed the jug back to the servant who proceeded to fill each cup, as Jesus held His the smell the warm red wine filled His senses. Once every cup had received some of the wine Rufus continued: “We remember Your promise, oh great and mighty God, to bring Your people out of the yoke of the Egyptians.”
Rufus then placed his cup down and indicated to the Karpas: “Let us now partake”, he joined Jesus in dipping the bitter herb into the vinegar and then the items were passed around the table. Once everyone had completed this ritual the servants cleared the plates and the second wine was presented to Rufus, he looked around “we will now sing the first of the Hallel Psalm:
“Hallelujah. O Servants of the Lord, give praise; praise the Name of the Lord. Let the Name of the Lord be blessed now and forever. From east to west the Name of the Lord is praised. The Lord is exalted above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who, enthroned on high, sees what is below, in heaven and on earth? He raises the poor from the dust, lifts up the needy from the refuse heap to set them with the great, with the great men of His people. He sets the childless women among her household as a happy mother of children. Hallelujah.”
“When Israel went out of Egypt, when the house of Jacob fled from a people of strange language, Judah became God’s sanctuary and Israel His dominion. The sea saw God’s hand move and fled; the Jordan turned back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills were like lambs. What ails you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan, why is it that you turned back? What caused the mountains and hills to skip? It is because the whole earth trembles at the presence of the Lord, the whole earth listens to the God of Jacob. He is mighty and turned the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a fountain of waters. (Psalm 114)”
As the words faded from each lip the servants brought forth the washing basins. Rufus declared: “Lord God we thank You and praise You for the bread we are about to enjoy.” The servants washed each hand and then brought forth the lam, vegetables and unleavened bread. Rufus indicated to Jesus who prayed: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and commanded us to eat unleavened bread.” Rufus broke the bread and dipped it with Jesus into the charoseth and bitter herbs. Jesus then turned to Mary and repeated the actions, Mary then turned to James and repeated this; the pattern continued until each person had shared the bread with the person sitting next to them. As the youngest finished eating Rufus served some lamb to Jesus and He in turn repeated the action. The mood was light and joyful as everyone enjoyed the delicious meal. As the last morsel was devoured the servants cleared the plates and presented the third wine to Rufus along with the last of the bread. Rufus prayed: “Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments, and commanded us to eat unleavened bread.” Then lifting the cup he continued: and every voice joined him: “The name of the Lord be blessed from now until eternity. Let us bless Him of whose gifts we have partaken: Blessed be our God of whose gifts we have partaken, and by whose goodness we exist.”
Rufus declared: “We praise You Lord for redeeming us with Your outstretched hand and with great judgments (Exodus 6:6).” All drunk of the wine and the servants brought forth the forth cup. Rufus smiled and invited all to join him in finishing the Hallel Psalms:
“Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has created the fruit of the vine. We praise You Lord, You have taken us as Your people and You’re our faithful God. Your mighty hand brought our ancestors out from the burdens of the Egyptians (Exodus 6:7)” Then each voice rung out in song:
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say: ‘Where is their God?’ For our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him. The wicked put their trust in their idols made of silver and gold, made by the hands of men. The idols have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear; noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel; feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them and so will all who trust in them. Hear O house of Israel, trust in the LORD — He is our help and shield. Hear O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD — He is our help and shield. Hear you who trust in the LORD — He is our help and shield. The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, He will bless the house of Aaron. He will bless those who fear the LORD — small and great alike. May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man. It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the LORD, both now and forevermore. Praise the LORD”. (Psalms 115:1-18)
“I love the LORD, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!” The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For You, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I cried out: “I am greatly afflicted.”; in my dismay I said: “All men are liars.”. But O Lord how You alone delivered me. How can I possibly repay the LORD for all His goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfil my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. O LORD, truly I am Your servant for You have freed me from my chains. I will bring a sacrifice, a thank offering, to You and call on the name of the LORD. See Him in the courts of the house of the LORD — in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.” (Psalms 116:1-19)
“Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.” (Psalms 117:1-2)
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say: “His love endures forever.” The Lord has heard our cries and set us free. The Lord is with us, we will not be afraid. What can mere men do to us? The Lord is with us, He is our helper. We will look in triumph upon our enemies. It is far better to take refuge in God than trust in men. It is far better to take refuge in God than trust in princes. All the nations surrounded us, but in the name of the LORD we cut them off. Though they surrounded us on every side, in the name of the LORD we cut them off. They swarmed around us like bees but died quickly, like burning thorns, for in the name of the LORD we cut them off. We were pushed back and about to fail, but the LORD helped and delivered us! The LORD is forevermore our strength and our song; He has become our salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous, loudly they proclaim: “The LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! The LORD’s right hand is lifted high; the LORD’s right hand has done mighty things! Though we were chastened severely, He did not give us over to death. We will not die but live and forever we will proclaim what the LORD has done. Open for us the gates of righteousness; we will enter in and give thanks to the LORD. We will give You thanks, O God, for You answered us; You have become our salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone; the LORD has done this and it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD grant us success. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God and He has made His light shine upon us. With boughs in hand we join in the festival procession up to the horns of the altar. You are our God and we will give You thanks; You are our God and we will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalms 118:1-29)
The festivities lasted late into the night with many more songs of praise sung.
The past few weeks I’ve felt swamped with sickness and study, trying to write this story has simply eluded me. I didn’t feel that I had the capacity to give the story justice. I think that the fear of failure also had me paralyzed.
Praise God! I got my major assignment submitted and slowly recovered from a cold. I’ve surrender to an afternoon nap a few days this week which has also helped me to get things back into focus.
I needed a bit of a visual picture and found a map of Jesus’ ministries extremely helpful, thanks to The Bible Journey. But again I apologise as I’m not 100 % sticking to those events.
Thanks for sharing this journey with me, I REALLY appreciate it. I have semester break coming up so I plan to dedicate quite a bit of time to this story to ensure that I can keep the momentum up when I resume studies again in August. I’ll also catch up on some much-needed rest and relaxation.
I’m absolutely fascinated by the Passover rituals and I have based the events from an article I found on Bible.Org.
Hear you who trust in the LORD, for He is your help and shield.
He will bless those who fear the LORD, both small and great alike.