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PIZZA FOR PASSOVER

Well, I’m officially crazy: I just baked an organic pizza for the local sea gulls.

Let me explain.

It’s almost Passover, which means it’s also almost the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Jesus commanded his followers to celebrate the Passover, which includes eating unleavened bread during the meal.

For the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we’re supposed to remove all yeasted products from our home. I had a frozen pizza sitting in my freezer for the past few months, so out it goes (yeast in the crust). But I couldn’t just throw it in the garbage (what a waste!) and I couldn’t give it to the birds frozen (they might complain…), so I baked it for them.

Passover begins this evening at sundown. I wrote last year about how important it is for Christians to celebrate Passover and by extension the Feast of Unleavened Bread. While it’s true we’re no longer under the Law (meaning, we don’t have to sacrifice animals to atone for our sins), God did direct his people to celebrate the Lord’s Passover for all time. It’s a directive that has as much weight as a Commandment.

In keeping the Passover, we commemorate the Hebrews’ final night in Egypt before the Exodus. On that night, the people were directed to eat a special meal in haste and to smear their doorposts with the blood of a slaughtered lamb to protect them from God, who would at midnight “pass over” them and their animals while killing every first-born among the Egyptians. The Passover also involves the reading of certain Bible passages and the singing of psalms, all to be done with shoes on and “loins girded” in expectation of a hasty departure.

Jesus urged his followers to continue keeping the Passover, but to keep it as he showed us during his final meal on Earth. The wine was to represent his blood instead of the ritual lamb’s blood, and the unleavened bread was to represent his body instead of the ritual lamb’s meat. This new Passover meal of Jesus’ blood and body was to commemorate the sacrifice that would take place the next day, with Jesus himself as the sacrificial offering. Remember that, by God’s decree, no bone was to broken in the Passover lamb, so even though the Roman soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves crucified with Jesus, they left Jesus’ legs intact.

The Lord’s Passover is a bittersweet festival. As much as it celebrates God’s rescue of his people from slavery, it also commemorates the slaughter of millions of first-borns, including Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I tend to speed through the description of Jesus’ crucifixion as fast as I can when I read the gospels, just as I speed through the description of the slaughter of the firstborns. I don’t think these events should be dwelt on or even looked upon (see what happened to Lot’s wife when she turned to watch the destruction of Sodom). God’s judgement in action can be brutal for those on the receiving end. It’s enough for us to know that it does happen, and that it’s perfect.

I hope you choose to commemorate the Passover as God and Jesus directed us to do. If you still have yeasted products in your home, now’s a good time to remove them. I’m sure you can find some hungry birds who would be only too happy to take them off your hands.

KEEPING THE LORD’S NEW PASSOVER

 

bread and wine

On his last night on Earth in a mortal body, Jesus gave us a new Commandment to add to God’s Big Ten – to love one another as he loves us.  He also asked us to do something in memory of him. That something he asked us to do was to perform a new ceremony during the annual meal commemorating Passover. He asked us to raise a cup in his name and to share it among ourselves, and to acknowledge that this cup represents his blood. But unlike the blood of the lamb that is smeared on the doorposts, this “blood” we are to drink in spiritual solidarity with Jesus, in memory of him. Same with the bread, which Jesus broke apart and shared among his followers; we are to eat the bread as if it were Jesus’ “body”. This is not an act of spiritual cannibalism but a recognition that Jesus is God’s sacrificial lamb, and that if we want the benefits of that sacrifice, we must do as Jesus’ told us to do – to drink the blood of the lamb and to eat its flesh so that it becomes a part of us, so that Jesus becomes part of us. (more…)

JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS!

foam finger

If you loved me, you’d be happy for me, for I go to the Father.” Jesus said this to his followers during the Passover meal he shared with them the night before he was murdered. Some of his followers were crying. All of them were sad.

But imagine, if instead of being sad, they did what Jesus suggested and were happy for him? Imagine if, instead of standing at a distance and weeping for him, they cheered him on the way a marathon runner is cheered on in the final agonizing stretch of the race? Imagine how those cheers would have encouraged Jesus to “hang in there!” and “keep going!”

Imagine what the crowd would have thought if Jesus’ followers started shouting “Hang in there, Jesus! We know you can do it! Keep going! We’re praying for you! We love you! You’re almost there! You’re almost home! You’re Number 1! GO, JESUS!!!” Imagine what the crowd would have thought if Jesus’ followers had shown up at the crucifixion wearing paper crowns and holding up the first-century version of the foam finger while chanting Jesus’ name over and over and over again.

“JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS!”

Their cheers might even have drowned out the jeers of the unbelievers. Imagine the good this rambunctious support would have done Jesus in his dying moments. Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of crowd cheers knows how invigorating those cheers can be. There’s a reason why the proverbial “hometown advantage” is proverbial.

“JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS!”

Yes, his supporters might have been arrested for “outing” themselves, but let’s imagine for a moment that they wouldn’t have been. Let’s imagine that, instead of weeping and praying silently, they clapped and cheered and hooted and hollered and shouted their love and encouragement to Jesus as his mission on Earth reached its glorious climax and the Sin of Ages was wiped away.

“JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS! JEEE-SUS!”

Imagine how much easier it might have been for Jesus if he’d heard cries of love instead of howls of hate. Imagine how different his death scene might have been.

Imagine.

It’s too late now to do this for Jesus, but we can do it for each other.

Imagine people cheering us on as we die. Because this is what they should be doing, encouraging us to “hold fast” not to life on Earth but to our commitment to God as we approach our final test. As born-agains, we should be happy when it’s our time to die, because, as Jesus told us, we’re going home. It’s what we’ve prayed and prepared for all our born-again lives.

Imagine how joyous our deathbed scene would be if Jesus’ words were adhered to. Imagine tears and whispered condolences being replaced with shouts of “Good for you! You’re almost there!” and “I’m SO jealous!” Imagine people surrounding us with boisterous encouragement, chanting our name as we round the final bend and come in view of our earthly finish line. This is the kind of jubilant death scene we should be having as born-agains, not tears and regrets and tubing and machines and pleas from relatives to ‘hang on’ to this life as long as we can.

Heaven is so far above and beyond anything that Earth can offer, it only makes sense to be happy for whoever’s going there.

At our funeral, it should be our death that is celebrated, not our life. And instead of a cross with “R.I.P.”, our tombstone should be a big stone foam finger emblazoned with “JEEE-SUS!” and “THANK GOD I’M OUTTA HERE!”

If you loved me, you’d be happy for me.” Remember this when it’s your time to go home.