We had supper at Costco last night. Nowhere else can I feed my entire family, including dessert for $11.17. But the cheap meal isn’t the reason we ate at Costco last night. Our Costco meal came about because of my quest to protect our family dinner at all costs.
You see, on Monday nights, both girls have practice — on opposite ends of town. I have to take one girl to my husband at work, so he can take her to practice then take the other girl to practice myself. There’s no chance of us making it home for a nice family meal. What we do have time for, is a trip to Costco.
I’ve discovered that protecting that precious time at dinner is hard. Our schedules this spring make sitting down for a meal together really difficult. But I also find the effort is worth it.
I think Jesus knew the value of sitting down for a meal and fostering conversation. Think about it. Why did He tell Zaccheaus to come out of the tree? So He could go to His house for a meal. When 5,000 people were sitting in front of Him to hear His teaching, what did He do? He fed them. And on the last night of His life when He had important things to tell His disciples, what did He do? He sat down to a Passover meal with them.
Jesus used the time during the meal to let His disciples know what was coming. Matthew 26:26-29 says “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’”
We hear these words often in church when we take communion, but imagine if you had been hearing them for the first time. I’m sure the disciples were confused, wondering just what Jesus was talking about. They knew He was the Messiah, but they thought He was going to save them from their current circumstances of living under the oppression of the Roman Empire. But God had bigger plans in mind.
Just as Jesus used their dinner as a symbol of what was to come, we can use dinner to help our kids understand what that last meal meant. This week, consider having a traditional Seder supper, which is what the disciples and Jesus ate. Each piece of the meal has a symbolic meaning that reminds us of God’s great plan for redemption.
Here’s some simple directions for what to serve and what each food means.
Unleavened bread — This was a reminder to the Jews that God had brought them out of Egypt. They didn’t have time for the bread to rise when they were leaving, so this is what they carried. It’s also a reminder to us that Jesus sacrificed His body on the cross.
Lamb — The Passover lamb was killed and the blood spread across the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over those homes during the last plague in Egypt. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb for our sins.
Horseradish — This bitter herb reminded the Jews of the bitterness they felt when they were enslaved in Egypt. Use it to remind your kids of the bitterness of sin.
Haroset — Haroset is crushed apples, nuts and honey blended together. It represents hope. Jesus brought hope into the world.
Salt water and parsley — Dip the parsley into the salt water as a reminder of the tears the Israelites shed in Egypt. The salt water also reminds us of the sorrow of Jesus’ death, but parsley is the symbol of new life represented by Jesus’ resurrection.
Grape juice — Grape juice is the symbol of Jesus’ blood, which washes away our sins.
Find a night this week to introduce your kids to the symbolism in the Passover meal. It will make the meal Jesus shared with His disciples more real to them, and it will generate lots of conversation about Easter. This isn’t a hard meal to put together, and it will be an experience your kids will remember.