Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The more one looks, the more one sees.

"Now my heart is troubled, & what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." John 12: 27 & 28
How does one keep the festivals vibrant & alive in one's life?

I was raised in a liturgical Church. The celebrations came round with regular monotony but they meant very little: a long boring hour in church where the same words were repeated in a mindless drone; the same prayers; the same scripture readings. I was grown up before it actually occurred to me we were celebrating something that actually happened. Now I believed what I was taught was *real* but somehow its immediacy was lost on me. Ever since I have been working my way backwards to the place from which I should have started.

And where should I have started? I should have started with the simple fact that Jesus was an orthodox, practising Jew. This is important because so much of what happens in the new testament is a direct result of Jesus Jewishness. Take Easter. What was Jesus doing in Jerusalem? He was going into town to celebrate the very Jewish festival of Passover as commanded by God. Even today Jews remember how God brought them out of the bondage of Egypt into the Promised Land. On the night of their final release they painted the lintels of their doors & windows with the blood of a sacrificed lamb & the angel of death passed over them & God did not destroy the firstborn of the Jews as he did the unbelieving Egyptians.

Passover has been celebrated continuously for 3 500 years, old even in Jesus' day. It falls in the first month of the sacred calender year & is foundational to all the other festivals. Thus it is foundational to our beliefs too. Look at the symbolism & how the old testament reflects into the new!

Jesus is the firstborn of His father. [The latter part of this festival is the festival of the firstfruits so there is further symbolism to come.] For our sakes He becomes the Passover lamb. It is in this context that Jesus begins His journey to the cross.

When Jesus comes into Jerusalem a room has been pre~prepared for him. It would have been swept & scrubbed to within an inch of its life, searched for yeast [symbolic of sin] & left ready for the Seder. Luke tells us that Peter & John, those two great rocks of the faith, were sent to prepare the Seder. Just before sunset 2 white candles would be lit, representing the law & the prophets; Jesus is the fulfillment of both.

During the Seder one cup per person is filled four times with either wine or grape juice: Once because I am the Lord your God, & I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. Once because I will free you from being slaves to them; once because I will redeem you & lastly because I will take you as my own people, & I will be your God. An extra cup is set at the table in the hope that this year Elijah will come because Elijah's coming was to foretell the great & dreadful day of the Lord.

Jerusalem housed the Temple. Jesus was very familiar with the temple, as were His disciples so would have been keenly sensitive to the symbolism within the Seder. There were 15 steps from the temple courtyard to the temple itself, each step designed to bring a worshipper closer to God. Just so there are 15 steps in a Seder. 1. Blessing the service 2. washing the hands 3. Parsley [usually] is dipped in salt water & eaten symbolising the bitterness of slavery4. one of 3 matzohs on the table is broken 5. Telling the passover story 6. Washing the hands 7. Blessing over the grains used in a meal 8. Blessing the unleavened bread 9. bitter herbs are eaten in remembrance of the bitterness of slavery 10. combining the Seder symbols {often as a "sandwich"] 11. serving the meal 12. sharing the afikomen 13. blessing after the meal 14. Praises 15. concluding the service. Throughout the meal a Seder plate would have been prominently displayed with the Passover symbols: shank bone [for the passover lamb], bitter herbs, a green vegetable, haroset, a roasted egg.

This then is how Jesus would have spent his final hours, remembering & celebrating the goodness & faithfulness of God before going out into the spring night to seek sanctuary on the Mount of Olives & pray one last time that if it were at all possible this cup would pass from him. Even so he assented to the Father's will, humbling himself even unto death.

That is the bare bones of the facts. As one unravels layer upon layer of symbolism the depth & breadth of God's love, planned for from the beginning of the world, becomes more & more apparent. The more one looks, the more God reveals of His purpose & plan. The more one looks the more one sees how consistent scripture is from beginning to end. I look forward to the fulfillment of the Passover meal in Heaven when Jesus will celebrate with us. Come, Lord Jesus; come.


seekingmyLord said...


Sandra said...

I'm curious, not confrontational. Please accept this question in the spirit which it is asked; simply curious. Do you believe Jews can ascend to heaven?

I used to have seder, but it's been a long time. I have a beautiful Israeli glass seder plate and a lovely rather elaborate matzoh cover as well as an enameled seder cup. Maybe nothing leavened but beautiful is not forbidden!

Easter for Jews used to be a bad time. You may not know that.

Ganeida said...

Seeking: ☺

Sandra: I would never consider curiosity confrontational & am so happy you will talk about these things from your personal experience. It adds so much to my understanding even though I know you are not a believer. Knowledge is power. lol

The simple answer to your question is, "Yes." The more difficult & complex answer is more along the lines of: I don't get to tell God who He does, & does not, allow into Heaven. As a Christian, obviously, I believe that Jesus, being our Passover lamb, was sacrificed to make our entry into Heaven possible & that belief in Him is a necessary prerequisite. There are hints in the N.T that devout Jews will recognise Him & respond to Him as the foretold Messiah. I do know none of the promises to the Jews have been rescinded & I think we all do well to remember that. ☺

There is a great deal we don't know about the mind of God. How could we, being mortal & finite?,so hoping you don't think it's a cop out, I hold fast to Deueronomy 29:29 "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us & to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

When you read the strange places I do you grow up knowing that Christians did terrible things to the Jews in the name of Christ. Unforgivable things. And that Easter was a particularly bad time. What I find particularly fascinating is that there is a blessing on those who help Israel & a curse on those who hinder her. Britain's Great Decline began when she tried to block the formation of the new Israeli state after WWII. America, who gave sancturary to so many Jews, has been blessed & flourished.

I hope I have responded to your query with sensitivity & am happy to discuss the issue further if you want to. Mind you, I'm no theologian so my ideas are likely to be quite inane.

I should love to do Seder with you! If I am ever in America for Passover could I impinge on your hospitality & see it done properly?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ganeida,
We participated in a Seder service when we lived in Tumby Bay, with the AOG church, and we learned so much from that service, just as I have from your post. :D

Have a wonderful and blessed Easter,
Love, Jillian ♥

seekingmyLord said...

I would also like to add something in answer to Sandra's question. This is addressed in the Book of Hebrews, after it establishes the priesthood of Jesus in the order of Melchizedek (He was not of the tribe of Levi), but particularly in Hebrews 11.

It begins with:
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2 For by it the men of old gained approval.

I share this in mindset with Dallas Willard, a Christian author and Professor of Philosophy. Referencing Romans 2:6-10 Dallas wrote:

"What Paul is clearly saying is that if anyone is worthy of being saved, they will be saved. At that point many Christians get very anxious, saying that absolutely no one is worthy of being saved. The implication of that is that a person can be almost totally good, but miss the message about Jesus, and be sent to hell. What kind of a God would do that? I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say "he can't save them." I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can. It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved. **But anyone who is going to be saved is going to be saved by Jesus: "There is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved."**

(Dallas Willard has been criticized heavily for this statement which is on his website, but often the last line [between the asterisks] is purposely left off when they quote him.)

One of the most obvious incidences that a person pleased the Lord so much that he did not even experience death was Elijah, who was taken up to the Lord by a chariot of fire in 2 Kings 2, as witnessed by Elisha.

Due to this and many other references, it is unlikely that not one was saved before the sacrifice Jesus made and, likewise, I question that none are saved who have never heard of Jesus. I get a bit fuzzy on the matter of salvation once a person has been offered the gift of His sacrifice *with full understanding* and yet rejects it, but that is God's domain and I too am happy for God to save anyone He wants in any way he can.

On the other side of that, too many times I have seen Christians think they have an "in" with God because they believe in Jesus, but then they do not cultivate their relationship with God much beyond that. I believe that God prefers a person to seek to please Him always than a person to think they have pleased Him enough to be saved.

Sandra said...

WOW. Very thoughtful and so much different from the usual. Thank you both for your insight. If those gates of heaven are there I do believe you both had a ticket to enter.

Ganeida said...

Sandra: Always happy to oblige & actually I was terribly chuffed that you felt safe enough with me to ask your question. Seriously. Liddy is always being told how scary I am.

Seeking: you read the most interesting things. ☺ Thanks for sharing that.