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When Your Child Ask

by David Johnson

IMG_0666    It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson,
When your Children Ask” and our text is in the Old Testament, the book of Exodus chapter 12 verses 21 through 27.  Listen to the Word of God.

When Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them: Go at once and select the animals for your families ands slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop. Dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the door frame. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

Verse 24. Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony.  And when your children ask you: What does this ceremony mean to you? Then tell them: It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians. And then the people bowed down and worshipped.  May the Lord add his blessing to the reading of his Word.

It has been observed that a family with a high level of meaningful family traditions is usually stronger, closer, a more united family. Family traditions invite and involve togetherness. Consider, for example, family reunions, mother and daughter shopping days, fathered son fishing and or hunting, family barbeques and cookouts, Sunday dinners together. It is a family tradition. You probably have family traditions also.

For example, in my family it was always Sunday spaghetti, but not spaghetti sauce out of a jar or a can, because, you see, it was mom’s day off and dad started cooking the meats and the sauce from scratch on Saturday with a slow simmer that filled the house with the aroma of tomatoes and garlic and oregano and pork and beef and sausage. Just the thought of it still causes me to salivate. It was a family tradition. We couldn’t wait to spin spaghetti on our spoons Italian style and eat the tender, succulent meats in the rich tomato sauce.

Traditions teach. Traditions make memories. Traditions help us to remember. God and the ancient Hebrews knew all about this.

Consider again Exodus chapter 12 and verse 21 where it says, in part, that Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said: Select animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. The Passover feast became an annual remembrance of how God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. For thousands of years, generation after generation to today pious, that is devout Jews have this remembrance as a family tradition which has also made for stronger, closer, united families in the Lord God. Note in Exodus chapter 12 and verse 26: And when your children as, you: What does this ceremony mean to you?  Especially in observant Jewish households, children were curious and parents were obligated to teach their children its meaning. It became customary, a family tradition for the youngest child in a Jewish family to ask the father for a formal explanation of what happened with the original Passover meal in Egypt.

This is still all practiced today in devout Jewish families, because it is a Jewish family tradition. This tradition teaches and reminds and it can bring pious Jews closer to their God and our God. And the children learned and the family tradition was passed on to the next generation. Even Jesus in his family, in his biological family of observant Jews with Joseph and Mary and his half brothers and sisters would have kept this ceremony, a traditional meal together. Christ also kept this tradition with his own disciples as an adult.

Consider in the New Testament this text in the gospel of Mark chapter 14 beginning in verse 12. On the first day of the feast of unleavened bread when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him: Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover? So he sent two of his disciples telling them: Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters: The teacher asks: Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.
The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared for the Passover.
Notice in verse 12 it was on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread when it was customary to sacrifice, that is, to slaughter the Passover lamb. Passover and the feast of unleavened bread were so closely associated, both terms were used interchangeably to refer to the eight day celebration that began with Passover. In verse 12 it also says, in part, to make preparations. After the Lamb was slaughtered and some of its blood sprinkled on the altar by the Levitical priests in the temple in Jerusalem, the lamb was taken home, roasted whole. And in the first century AD it became a tradition to be eaten in the evening meal with unleavened bread, with bitter herbs, with charloseth, which is a paste and wine.

In verse 16 of Mark 14 it says, in part: So they prepared the Passover. It has been a tradition for Jews to make preparations from Moses to Messiah, thousands of years and beyond even to today, thousands of years. Now that is a tremendous tradition, a special time for Jewish families today in their homes, because they no longer have a Jewish temple and the time and the tradition to remember, to reinforce, to rehearse the teaching regarding God’s deliverance. And each item, each ingredient of the Passover meal still teaches, still reminds, still brings observant Jewish families closer to the Lord God.

For example, the Lamb is a symbolic substitute of the Lamb’s life blood for the Israelites that were saved from God’s destroyer, the death angel. The Israelites were saved because they were literally under the blood of the lamb on the lintels, that is on the tops and the door posts, that is, the two sides of their doorways.

Today ceremoniously, pious Jews usually us a symbolic roasted lamb’s bone without blood. They have no temple yet.

Now there is an application for us today, because, of course, for Christians the New Testament, Jesus Christ is our Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world. Regarding our bondage to sin and Satan and this sin has been covered, lifted, taken away, because we are in Christ through saving, obedient faith. And we are under his blood. And our tradition, our ceremony that celebrates this, the Lord’s supper, communion around his table. Jesus Christ is our Passover from spiritual death to life eternal. And today our church ordinance, our tradition, each first day of the week teaches and reminds us to reexamine ourselves as Jesus’ blood continues to wash us clean as we confess and repent of our sin.

And when our young children ask today: What does this mean? We should teach. We should remind and reinforce the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, his death, burial and resurrection and bring an understanding to our children, to our grandchildren, to our nephews and nieces and whoever we can bring the good news of Jesus Christ and bring them closer and even into a saving relationship through their faith eventually through Christ toward our God.

Regarding the original Passover, the unleavened bread was made without yeast to remind the Israelites that they left Egypt with haste. The bitter herbs usually endive and chicory reminded of the long, bitter years of slavery in Egypt.  And the charoseth or paste is made of crushed apples and dates and pomegranates and nuts into which they dipped the unleavened bread. And the paste reminds Israelites of the mortar that was used to bind the bricks and the stones that they were forced to make while in Egypt. The four cups of wine are each for different purposes dealing with blessings. And so, of course, we today have the fruit of the wine as we remember the blood of Jesus that he gave freely on the cross for the sin of the world.  Each item, therefore, is rich in significance to remind us all to teach these spiritual truths. For when your children, my children ask: What doe this mean? We, again, need to teach. We need to remind. We need to reinforce the gospel.
Today in the Church we have many spiritually based traditions that can be used and we can be involved in as families to teach, to train and to remind us all as we draw closer to the Lord. For example, family prayer, our family altars at home, bible devotional altars in the household where families can pray together. Families that do pray together usually stay together in spirit, in the Lord. And prayer time that includes not just at meal times, but before trips, in tough times, in thankful times, family prayer circles that make prayer a family tradition.

I know of one Christian family that every single night or almost every single night the whole family—and they had many… I think they had six children—they would have a prayer circle as a family every evening as their children were growing up and they would actually hold hands, make a circle and have a time of family prayer. That is a good tradition, something to incorporate in our families or something similar as we have these traditions to strengthen ourselves in the Lord and the things of the Lord. And when your young children ask: What does this mean when we are praying together, when we are having our devotional altars together? What does this mean? We tell them. And we teach them that when we pray we are talking to the Lord.  And when we look into the Word of God, into the Bible, the Lord talks to us. And so both ways a double communication, a link, a connection with God. And so we can teach them and tell them and remind and reinforce these things of the Lord.

And then there is also another example. These many families have family table talks. Perhaps instead of talking about the preacher necessarily, whether it was good or bad or what have you, concerning the sermon, how about the text of the sermon, the content of the sermon, the application of the sermon? I recall as my children were growing up, I would always question my sons regarding, well, what did I preach about today? What does it mean to you? How does it apply to you? To make sure, first of all, that they were awake, that they were listening and that they were able to understand the lesson, the Bible lesson and be able to reevaluate it and make it real in their lives.  Also along with table talks we can have bedtime talks, bedtime talks about the things of the Lord, about spiritual matters, about moral and ethical issues, that are conducive to their age and to their experience and their circumstances.  And when your children ask: What does this mean? Tell them. Teach them in the Lord the things of the Lord. And these types of things as they are rehearsed, as they are consistently and persistently gone over, these things can embed these thoughts and these principles, these precepts from the Word of God from a Christian lifestyle in the tender minds and hearts of our children, of our grandchildren, of those that we want to impress the things of the Lord.

And then, thirdly, also, we can certainly make Sunday school and vacation Bible school and Bible camp family traditions. And certainly all of the worship services that our congregations observe, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, revivals, gospel meetings that we would instill into the minds and hearts of our children, of our grandchildren, that these things are important, that these things need to be practiced and that there needs to be not only attendance, but attention to these matters and that they can soak up the truths and the words of God and the Word of God to make them more mature as they grow in the things of the Lord and make these things family traditions that they will pass on to their generations, to the next generation so that they can pass this on and grow and have a family heritage and leave a legacy of the Christian experience in our families.

We cannot give our children faith, but we can draw them to the Lord or the Lord draws everyone unto himself as the Father calls those that would come to him in faith. And so we can also point out these things as the Holy Spirit convicts and convinces.  And so evangelism and witnessing and testifying for Christ begins in the home, responding to the gospel in the Church house is so much easier when it is first learned, rehearsed, reminded, reinforced in the home. May this be our practice.

 

                           David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ in Sellersburg, IN.




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