Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easter Passover Reflections

I truly love exploring the story of redemption and specifically meditating on the last few hours that Yeshua spent with His disciples. I’m just going to ramble a bit with thoughts of what Passover means to me. Reflection and meditating doesn't mean any of us have it all figured out. Thankfully our salvation isn't dependent on perfect theology. Perhaps the simplest prayer of salvation is found in the declaration of the thief on the cross, who said, "remember me". Luke 23:42


This year Easter and Passover are very close together. For observant Jews, Passover will begin at sunset on Wednesday, April 8th. This is likely as close to alignment with the majority of Christian expressions regarding the timing of the celebration of Yeshua’s sacrifice as we will get.

Most Christians use dating that was instituted in 325 AD, with heavy emphasis being placed on venerating Sunday. It's up to you why the Jewish dating was rejected. My guess is that it is rooted in anti-Semitism and was done to ensure a clear separation between the gentile church and Judaism.


In the business of Christianity an important thought process is woefully neglected: Yeshua’s using his final hours to emphasize over and over His desire for us to be friends with Him and each other. John 13-17.

I was just talking with someone the other day and they told the story of leaving a church after 9 years of attendance and no one called or even noticed. Sadly, this is not an isolated story. The general rule of thumb is, "out of sight, out of mind."

Yeshua said the world would know we are His disciples by our love for one another. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34,35

That sounds like people that notice each other. In the quest for larger numbers as the ultimate symbol of "success", is it possible we have forgotten to draw closer to each other and simply not noticed what is happening in each other's lives? In some circles accountability is emphasized and yet friendships are a much more natural and dynamic way of encouraging and building up one another.

The Cup

Let’s move on to Yeshua’s most significant time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. I actually had the privilege of being in Israel in 1995 and had a chance to share this message with a group of fellow pilgrims in the very garden itself.

Yeshua’s act of intercession in the garden is portrayed with his wrestling with his duty and identity.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26: 39

This passage has often been interpreted to mean that Yeshua was not wanting to go to the cross. As if He would have balked at the very purpose for which He came. What if it is as simple as Him knowing that no matter how much he loves his children, that many will reject His love and be forever separated from Father and him. His agony was not about himself and what he was to endure but the loss of others for all of eternity.

His disciples were told that we are to drink the same cup as Him.
You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said to them. "Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?"

"We can," they answered.
Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup,
Matthew 20:22-23a

Is the cup our taking on sin or is it to intercede for those who have rejected our savior and to feel the anguish of Father over that loss?


I don’t know how many times I have heard it preached that Father turned his face away from Yeshua based on his cry,

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
Psalm 22:1

And yet in the same Psalm we read,

For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
Psalm 22:24

Or listen to Yeshua as he prepares his disciples for his death - and what he will achieve with the words “you will be scattered….. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32

Abandonment theories simply do not help me appreciate Father more.

Became Sin

A passage from Paul's writings in 2 Corinthians is often cited to prove that Yeshua became sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:21

And yet an equally appropriate interpretation is that He became a sin offering for us.

I find nothing in the Old Testament about the sacrifice for sins being anything other than unblemished innocence. There is no indication that the sacrifice became sin. And it is in the Old Testament that we find the first picture of atonement that was to be completely fulfilled in Yeshua, who is the lamb of God.

Even the scapegoat did not become sin but rather carried sin away from the people. Lev. 16: 20-22 I believe there was even a tradition within Jewish thought that if the scapegoat returned after being sent into the wilderness that they celebrated. Not only were their sins carried away but they got the goat back.

In essence, Yeshua carried away our sins and then returned to us.

Either Father is Love or Is He Just Plain Cruel

More often than not, Father is portrayed as a vengeful tyrant that if you don’t play by His rules, He will ultimately whack you. The picture given of the cross is that Father is angry at his children’s sin. In order to forgive them, He turns on His son and beats him to death and then punishes him in hell for 3 days. A strange notion when you consider Yeshua said this to the thief on the cross. "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43

Just imagine your friend hurting you and then coming to you for forgiveness. You say to him, I will forgive you but in order for me to do that I will have to go back to my house and kill my son. Would your friend want that kind of forgiveness?

Yeshua said, "If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." John 14:7

If I can’t picture Yeshua doing something like killing someone, why is it so easy to see Father doing it? Let's not forget who the real killer is. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

The purpose of the cross is to bring us back to Father. Let's reflect on the fact that ALL of what Yeshua did was to reveal His Father to us and for us to enjoy being in His presence.

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