Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christ in the Passover: Book Review

One of the benefits of the Church Calendar is the yearly remembrance and reflection on the key aspects of the life of the Lord Jesus. So, every winter, we recall the great miracle of the incarnation, the wonder of Jesus being born as a baby. Similarly, while our focus is always on the cross, Holy Week can be a special time of meditation on the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died.

To help me with these annual events, I like to do some seasonal reading. During Lent, I was able to read John Stott's book, The Cross of Christ. In this Holy Week, which is also the time of Seder, or Passover for the Jews, I read the short book 'Christ in the Passover' by Ceil and Moishe Rosen.

As you might have realised by their names, Ceil and Moishe (Moses) are Jews, but Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus. Through the short chapters, they trace the development of Passover from the first one in Egypt through the period of the first and second temples, to the contemporary Seder meal. This was a particularly helpful insight into the Jewish background of the Lord's Supper, and helped me to better understand the concept of Passover.

One such insight was that 'The verb "pass over" has a deeper meaning here than the idea of stepping over or leaping over something to avoid contact... The word used here is pasah from which comes the noun pesah, which is translated Passover. These words have no onnection with any other Hebrew word, but they do resemble the Egyptian word pesh, which means "to spread wings over" in order to protect.' (p. 22) Hence the Lord's weeping over Jerusalem wanting to gather them as a hen does her brood under her wings.

There was also an interesting discussion into the tradition of the matza (unleavened bread) whereby three pieces are set apart, and during the meal, the middle one is broken, part of it is hidden, then later on found, and then everyone shares in a part of it. The resonance seems to be the three persons of the Trinity, the Son broken, buried, and raised, and all individually sharing in it. This may come from the time when Jewish Christians were still part of the whole Jewish family before they were removed. This same eating of the unleavened bread is at the point when the Passover Lamb would have been eaten (when the Temple was still in existence), and so there's another resonance with the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

All in all, an interesting book, and one I'm glad I read. I'm not sure how I got my hands on it - possibly at a free book giveaway in college, but one to think through again in the years to come.

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