December 15, 2009
The three feasts surrounding Jesus' crucifixion offer a wealth of detail and depth to our understanding of the event.
Once again it's time for our weekly tour through Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg. I just finished reading chapter 8, which has some very interesting things to say about the Jewish feasts that surrounded the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Specifically, Spangler and Tverberg focus on the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits. There are a lot of fascinating nuggets and tidbits in regards to the different Jewish beliefs, legends, and symbols attached to those feasts—especially in connection with Jesus' resurrection.
For example, they mention a Jewish tradition of breaking off a piece of the matzah bread before the Passover meal (the seder) and hiding it. This piece is called the afikomen, and it is brought out at the end of the seder and broken and eaten by all the participants.
...in Jesus' time, the afikomen referred to "the coming one,", meaning the longed-for Messiah. The tradition was that the whole piece of matzah represented all of Israel, and that the Messiah was "broken off" from the people and hidden away. The appearance of the piece at the end was symbolic of the coming of the Messiah, fervently expected at the time of Jesus. When Jesus held up that particular piece of bread and said, "This is my body," he was making a shocking claim to be the Messiah, the Christ.
Cool huh? There's a good bit more where that came from, but I don't want to steal too much thunder from the authors and spoil their keen insights.
One more thing, though. Reading this chapter reminded me of the value of learning about the different feasts initiated and celebrated by the Israelites throughout the Old Testament. They provide some shocking clarification and "wow" moments, especially in regard to Jesus and the New Testament.
You and your group can learn more with our 6-session Bible study called Seeing Christ in the Jewish Feasts.
posted by Sam O'Neal on December 15, 2009 2:05 PM