Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bonus Post for Passover--Jesus in the Seder

A blind man is sitting on a park bench. A Rabbi sits down next to him. The Rabbi is chomping on a piece of matzah. Taking pity on the blind man, the Rabbi breaks off a piece and gives it to the blind man. Several minutes later, the blind man turns, taps the Rabbi on the shoulder and asks, "Who wrote this?"


Judaism is the foundation of Christianity.  We serve a Jewish Jesus whose disciples were Jewish, read a Bible written by Jews, and the early church was completely comprised of Jews until the Gospel was presented to the Gentiles.  To fully grasp the significance of Jesus' last supper on earth, which was the Passover (Seder) dinner, we need to understand the Jewish perspective.

The night before Passover, those celebrating it search their houses and burn anything containing yeast. In the Bible, yeast was equated with pride, sin, and unbelief. Sin breaks relationships with people, but, more importantly, with our Father God. We must search our hearts for any trace of sin to get rid of it in the fire of repentance. 

Just before the Passover meal begins, a child opens a door to invite Elijah to come in because it was prophesied that Elijah would announce the arrival of the Messiah. John the Baptizer came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) to fulfill this prophecy. He told us to “prepare the way for the Lord‘s coming.” With childlike faith, we must open the door of our hearts to prepare to accept our Lord.

Red wine (or grape juice) is drunk from the Kiddush cup four times during the Seder. The first cup is Sanctification. After it is drunk, hands are washed to show we need cleansing from sin. During Jesus' last supper, He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13) at this time to show He would sanctify us completely through His blood that washed our sins away.

The Matzah tash is a pouch with three compartments. Each compartment holds a piece of matzah (unleavened bread). It’s called "the Unity" because it binds the three into one—a vivid illustration of the Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Only the middle piece (the Son) is taken out. This is because Jesus came to earth, visible to mankind, while the Father and the Holy Spirit remained invisible. "Christ is the visible image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15).

Photo not mine--unsure of where to give photo credit

The middle piece (representing Christ) is then broken. When Jesus sat down to the Passover dinner with His disciples and broke this bread, He told them, “This is My body broken for you” (Luke 22:19), claiming to be the center piece of the Trinity--the Son of God, the Messiah.

Half of the broken matzah is put back in the Matzah tash. It is called the Bread of Affliction. Matzah bread is pierced and the holes are laid out in stripes with ligher and darker places, like bruises. Isaiah 53:5 says, “But He (the Messiah, our Bread of Life) was pierced for our rebellion, bruised for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed by His stripes.”

The other half of the broke matzah, called the Afikomen, is wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden just as Jesus' broken, whipped, bruised, and pierced body was wrapped in a shroud and hidden in a tomb.

The Seder Plate illustrates the story of the Exodus, but it also points us to our Messiah. Sections hold bitter herbs (horseradish--ugh), vegetables (usually parsley) dipped in salt water, and a mushy mixture (usually made of apples & nuts). The bitter herbs represent the bitterness of the Israelite captivity in Egypt, but also reminds us of the bitterness of our captivity to sin. The apple mixture looks like the mud and straw used to make bricks during slavery, and salt water represents tears as they cried to God for deliverance. We, too, cry out to God for deliverance from our bondage to sin.

The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Since then, there have been no sacrifices. The shank bone of a lamb on the Seder plate reminds believers that the Temple sacrifice of an innocent lamb is no longer necessary to pay for our sins. John the Baptizer saw Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" (John 1:29) identifying Jesus as the final Passover Lamb. 

Judgment is the second cup. God sent ten plagues on the unrepentant Egyptians (Exodus 4) as judgment for enslaving, abusing, and murdering His children, the Israelites. The plagues ended with the death of the Egyptians' firstborn. The Israelites were spared this judgment when they killed a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts. Jesus took this cup of Judgement and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20) to identify Himself as the Lamb whose blood, the price of our freedom, was shed to save us from God's judgment. 

Then the meal is eaten. At the end of the dinner, the children are sent to find the Afikomen, the piece of matzah that was hidden earlier. We must seek Jesus with the faith of a child. “If you seek Me, you will find Me if you seek Me with all your heart” (Jer 29:13). The child who finds the Afikomen is given a gift. When we find Jesus, we receive the gift of forgiveness for our sins, peace, joy, a relationship with God, and eternal life. 

The Afikomen is then broken into pieces and passed around to be eaten. At the Last Supper, Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, 'This is My body, broken for you," (Luke 22:19). He is the Bread of Life that feeds our souls, on our lips and in our hearts.  Romans 10:8-9 says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart...If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  

The third cup is Redemption. Jesus lifted the cup (Luke 22:20) and said “This cup is the new covenant in My blood...” What is the purpose of this new covenant? To know God.  The prophecy in Jeremiah 31:33-34 says,“’This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people… they will all know Me...’” Jesus’ blood was not just for the forgiveness of our sins, but so that we could be in an actual relationship with God. To know about God is religion, but to know Him is relationship.

The last cup is Praise. "...in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen" (I Peter 4:11b). "I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things You have done" (Psalm 9:1). "Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name" (Psalm 103:1). Let live live constantly in an attitude of praise in all things with our whole heart because He alone is worthy of it. He is so good!


At a Seder dinner a few years ago, Caleb (my service dog) felt out of place because he didn't have an appropriate head covering, so, he cleverly made one out of the tablecloth.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'Possum Peeps!

Do chicks die and come back to life?  


Do bunnies?  

Also, no.  

So, why are chicks and bunnies considered symbols for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

That never made sense to me.  Or to my dog, Caleb.  

A couple of years ago, a few days before Easter, he showed me which animal is, arguably, best suited to represent death and resurrection...by catching it on his nightly walk and racing home to drop it proudly at my feet. It was definitely the most unique (and most unwelcome) gift I have ever received, but I could not argue with his logic in choosing it.

The opossum was unscathed (to reassure you 'possum lovers) and only playing dead. Jay brought a bin to cover him just in case he "came back to life" before Animal Control arrived. He definitely seemed dead (the opossum, not Jay): no sign of breathing, limp limbs, glazed eyes, unresponsive, and exuding the foul stench of rancid meat so nothing would eat him while he was "playing 'possum." I, for one, wasn't tempted.

But that gave me an idea.  

I am now starting a petition for 'Possum Peeps! 

They represent Resurrection Day better than chick or bunny Peeps (and will taste just as yummy).

Since we can't buy 'Possum Peeps this year, leave your address below, and (with Caleb's help) we will bless you with a "natural and organic" gift* from the wilds of North Carolina! Happy Resurrection Day!

* Open all overnight packages from us immediately.  Contents may be playing dead.   

Verse of the day:  (John 11:25) "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live." Which is the most amazing gift of all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Poultry Day

Rose (who looks like she's wearing a hat), Goldie, Blanche and Henrietta
Before September 1, 2012, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to celebrate Poultry Day. What a difference six months and nineteen days make! 

I suspect Jay spent too much time reading verses in Psalms about hiding under the shadow of God’s wings, and they made him long for backyard chickens. I thought it was a phase and tried to wait him out. When he brought up the subject, I’d respond cryptically by quoting random bird verses like Job 39:13, “The ostrich flaps her wings grandly, but they are no match for the feathers of the stork.” I’d raise one eyebrow, nod mysteriously, and wander off. 

It didn’t work. 

Gradually, Jay wore me down. I finally told him, “I don’t like birds, and I don’t like eggs, but I do like you. So, if you’re determined to bring chickens into our life...” I generously added, “I’ll somehow try to cope.” Well, he never heard the last part because he was already in the yard building a coop. A couple months later, I became a reluctant chicken mommy to four Golden Comet biddies. 

Recently, I showed Jay a beautiful ring on Etsy.com of a nest with eggs. Even though Poultry Day was clearly marked on our calendar, there was no nest ring waiting for me. 

Is it too much to ask to expect a man to remember my birthday, our anniversary, and Poultry Day?
Verse of the day:   (Eph 4:2) "...with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love..." even if they want backyard chickens.