A Post for Passover! Exodus / Passover Motifs in the New Testament… “The Cups” (repost)

Yesterday evening at sundown began the ancient festival of the Passover. As you may remember, this is the celebration that retells the story of the Hebrews being liberated from their bondage in Egypt. The theme of “exodus” is one that has often been overlooked by Christians, but is one that we must not ignore if we are going to read the bible “for all its worth.”

Below is a post that I did a year or so ago, when I began to do some research on the Jewish roots of our faith.


I have been doing some thinking and study about Exodus/Passover motifs in the New Testament. One of the most obvious ones is found in the gospels when Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples. Most scholars agree that the Last Supper was shared by Jesus during a Passover meal or “Seder” (I am choosing not to go into the problem of John’s Gospel and the difficulty it presents to this theory, but am personally convinced that even the fourth evangelist’s account of Jesus can be brought into harmony on this issue).

Something that I recently learned is that Jesus did not drink the communion cup that we Christians associate with our celebration of Eucharist until after the dinner was complete. What this means is that this was the third cup of wine in the Passover meal of four cups. This cup is called the “cup of redemption.” The potential imagery of this is powerful when you consider that Jesus seemed to have not indulged in the fourth cup (reference in Mark 14.25) which appropriately is called “cup of consummation.” What Jesus seems to have done is to frame the reality of the already-but-not-yet kingdom of God.  Our lives find themselves navigating between the tension of what God intends to do in the future and what he has already done through the perfect sacrifice of his son; the “lamb of God.”  As Marvin Wilson states in his book, Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith:

“The unfinished meal of Jesus was a pledge that redemption would be consummated at that future messianic banquet when he takes the cup and ‘drinks anew in the kingdom of God.’” (p 247)

What are your thoughts on the above “cup” image? What are some interesting and often overlooked connections of Exodus/Passover motifs that have inspired you? What other Jewish roots connections have you discovered that are often overlooked? What else does this post bring to your mind?


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  • ‘Something that I recently learned is that Jesus did not drink the communion cup that we Christians associate with our celebration of Eucharist until after the dinner was complete.’

    learned from where?

    • The book I referenced from Marvin Wilson is the primary source. We know this because Paul tells that “after dinner” was when Jesus took the cup. This tells us where in the Passover meal ( very strucured) Jesus talked about the “new covenant.”. This would have been the third cup… The cup of redemption in the ceremonial flow. Then Mark tells us that he refuses the final cup of the Passover… The cup of consummation! In other words, our live exist between the two cups… A beautiful picture of the “already not yet” kingdom an mission of God :-). Hope that answers your question some. Blessings!

      Sent from my iPhone

  • John Holmes

    Kurt, I think that Mark 14:25, is misunderstood by many dispensationalist, and Messianic Jews as well. Jesus eschatology was always blowing the minds of his disciples and the Jewish nation. Mk 9:11 Why is it that the scribes, the briliant theologians say that Elijah must come first? IE, that is not the tradtional eschatology of Judaism, you are messing it up…. The feeding of the five thousand, is another eschatalogical moment, could this be the messianic banquet, of the age to come, but we didn’t think it would come like this, etc.
    ” But I say to you that Elijah has come, past tense! And they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written….. They are looking to the past waiting for fullifillments, he is looking to the future saying this Kingdom fullfillment has already come…!

    I grew up in church hearing that very scripture being used, as a second coming passage, we will eat and drink with him at the second coming, one wonders with this kind of theology that we don’t have a pitiful, and poverty filled view of the first coming, crucifixion, was an eshaton release. IE the temple curtain was torn in two because a new age of the Kingdom had dawned….

    Lastly, Acts 10:41, Peter says, referring back to this text and the whole passover, new covenant motif, WE ATE AND DRANK WITH HIM AFTER HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD, the messianic banquet was enjoyed not at the second coming but at the ressurection, and isn’t it interesting, the Holy Spirit falls on the Gentiles, they come into the banquet, and speak in toungues, prophecy, all marks of the age to come, they start experiencing…

    I think Jewish tradition has to give way to Apostolic experince in these matters, they drank the cup of the eschaton at the ressurection, because a new eschaton had come, we are now experinceing it or should I say, should be, lest we ask the wrong question, Acts 1:6 are you at this time restoring the Kingom, ie, the way we view eschatology, No The Kingdom has come, go after you received the engulfing of the Spirit, go to the nations and bring them into the messianic Kingdom…. Shalom

    • John,

      You raise some interesting points here. i should let you know that I do not hold to any form of dispensationalism or typical forms of futurism. [for instance, see my article on Mark 13: http://groansfromwithin.com/articles-ive-written/unpublished-papers/signs-of-the-times-a-study-of-mark-13/ ]

      With that said, I do not think that it is far fetched to see Jesus’ refusal to drink the final cup as an indicator of the coming consummation of the cosmos and the kingdom. From a standpoint of inaugurated eschatology, we live in the tension between the beginning of God’s new creation (Jesus’ resurrection) and the completion of the new creation (2nd coming). What God does for Jesus on Easter morning he will do for “all thing” in creation.

      Now, your point that is quite well taken is the mention of: WE ATE AND DRANK WITH HIM AFTER HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD. But, to say that he drank does not mean that he drank necessarily from the ‘fruit of the vine.’ And even if he did drink wine later, the passover imagery still holds up. Often times, the images and enacted parables are for the purpose of communicating some kind of kingdom reality, rather than literal truth (not sure if that makes sense). In other words, even if Jesus later chose to drink wine (which we do not know) it doesn’t have to negate the passover images he is conveying with the cups. Great challenge you bring to the table, but lets be careful to not over-react against poor futurists eschatologies. -grace and peace!

  • The Haggadah which gives directions for Passover- what we call now Seder, meaning order or arrangement- was not written before the 2 nd century ( because the last Rabbi it quotes lived then ) also the Mishnah represents the time from the destruction of the Temple to the 2 nd century; at the same time as christianity was developing its traditions in order to preserve traditions and events so was Judaism, Rabbis held debates and decided what to write down for future generations.

    Whilst the Temple was still standing in Jerusalem ( until 70 AD ) Passover sacrifice of perfect year-old male lambs took place there with an elaborate ritual where the priests caught the blood in cups and passed it along to be poured on the altar, not a drop was allowed to be spilled.

    This is what Christ refers to in calling the wine his blood, as he foretells his betrayal and death in the last supper; he is the sacrificial lamb.

    He uses the same metaphor when says after in Gethsemane: ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours’.

    • Wow! Great insight! Do u have a resource I can check out on the blood cup imagery?

      Sent from my iPhone

  • Here’s the text in English for the Haggadah http://www.sichosinenglish.org/cgi-bin/calendar?holiday=pesach11101
    ‘The shochet slaughters it, and the first Kohen at the head of the line receives it and hands it over to his colleague, and his colleague to his colleague, and the Kohen nearest the altar sprinkles it once toward the base of the altar. He returns the empty vessel to his colleague, and his colleague to his colleague, receiving first the full vessel and then returning the empty one.’

    The Hebrews believed, because they saw that when a person or animal’s blood flowed out death would follow, that blood contained life. In Leviticus 17 the eating of blood is prohibited by Moses ‘For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.’

    Therefore the blood of meat is carefully drained and buried, or in case of the altar sacrifice, placed on the altar- the life is returned to God, from where it came.

    When Christ calls the wine his blood, and tells people to drink it, he is again going against the traditional Rabbis’ teachings and prohibitions to use this metaphor, it would have been a powerful and emotive thing to say.

    It’s amazing to see how religions developed over history isn’t it!

  • additional note about Lev 17- I mean prohibited by God to Moses: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living among them who eats any blood—I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people.’

  • Community

    concerning the blood-picture you may be interested in this short message:


  • John Dunn

    I have written extensively on the New Testament’s use of the Passover-Exodus motif here: http://www.takeacopy.com/