Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. ~John13:1
There's a reason I'm a Lit major & not a theologian. I think in pictures. When I read of our Lord's death & resurrection I don't picture bunnies, easter eggs & hot cross buns. Instead I see the narrow dirt roads with billows of dust rising into the air as the crowd converges on Jerusalem to celebrate Pesach. I can feel the heat, just beginning because this is a spring festival, & the sun's glare slicing off the stark white stone.
Somewhere in the crowd are 13 men making their way towards an upper room & a destination that will change the world. I can sense their excitement. They have come for the first festival in the Jewish sacred year. It is the foundational festival around which all the others flow ~ & festival is right. It was a time of celebration & rejoicing, good food, good wine, great company. Every one of those 13 men would have celebrated Pesach every year of their life, anticipated it, welcomed it.
Like most Jewish festivals it revolved around family but this year Jesus chose to clebrate the most important religious festival of the year with his 12 disciples ~ & he did this because this Passover was different. He wanted to show them how Pesach was about to be fulfilled in their lifetime.
As Christians we rather glibly talk about Jesus as our Passover Lamb, the lamb of God, but it is a pretty meaningless phrase because we have lost the meaning of the Passover lamb. We know the story but we don't fit all the jig~saw pieces together. Exodus. God's rained down the plagues on Egypt & still Pharoh won't let the Israelites go ~ but God has one last card to play. Let them go, He says, or every first born male in your land, both man & beast, will die. Egypt, all too often in scripture, symbolises mankind's bondage to sin & God pronounces judgement on the world & on sin. At the same time he provides a kiporah [covering]; every house marked with the blood of an unblemished lamb will be spared. We know this but just how closely scripture links these truths together is amazing.
One of the traditions of Pesach is the cleansing of the home of yeast. Yeast symbolises our sin. I'm slack about this ~ mostly because I'm not much of a bread eater & forget it's in the house. Every time I forget I leave out something important because what did Jesus do just before the Passover? He went up to the temple & had a thorough cleansing of the filth that had contaminated it! The symbol & the reality, the lived out experience, go hand in hand throughout the Pesach epistle.
I wrote more about Passover here but I will be thinking more on the symbols as we move into the Paschel season: of the 4 cups of the seder [the cup of santification; the cup of salvation; the cup of redemption; the cup of the kingdom.] I will be amazed again at the matzah symbolism, that thousands of years before Jesus was born on earth God put in place the symbol of the cross, the death & resurrection, & it has been played out every year since in the Passover Seder! Wow. I will remember, because it is implicit in the seder, that Jesus came, died, rose again ~ & will come again! I will remember that the last cup is the cup of the kingdom ~ & this is the cup Jesus will celebrate with His people in the kingdom to come!
I haven't got all the answers. I 'm not sequential & logical but as my understanding of Pesach grows I am wondered that Christians exchanged its richness & depth for Easter eggs, bunnies & hot cross buns. The whole of the Resurrection story is contained within Pesach & it is a wonder & a glory to me & satiates my soul, deeply, profoundly, intimately.
Now I wonder if I can talk Dearest into ditching the bread this year?