Passover and Easter, crackerbread or chocolate?

This week, I got to go to several Pesach (Passover) meals which happens to be about the same time as Easter.

Many people think Easter has been distorted from its original story of Jesus’s death and resurrection into a nonsensical pagan feast of eggs and rabbits, but actually the original Passover feat as a lot more in common with Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice.

The way the set of items are used in a Jewish Passover tradition is quite long, so I will just touch on a few of them;

The lamb shank bone is an interesting one, Jesus is often represented a lamb who was slain.

The matzah bread, which is really a large cracker wheat, has a pattern of holes and patterns, pierced and striped, the same injuries Jesus took on the cross.

Also, the matzah bread is often served covered with a linen cloth, something that also could be considered part of Jesus’s burial as his body was cleaned and wrapped carefully.

This passage from the Tannak says it best:-

Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message  and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.  For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Don’t get me wrong, I like easter eggs, but only as I like chocolate in general, and the shiny packaging, and would be happy if this type of packaged confectionery was sold year round, this morning  I decided to shove some chocolate spread on this bit of matzvah 🙂

This is a special event is well worth experiencing.

Nazareth – 1. Arrival at the city

I have always hoped Michael Palin could do journals around the holy land one day, until this happens I try and blog on the places of the life of Jesus myself.  I am tired by the attitudes of the media and fellow Brits who try to slander Israel and accuse it of being a ‘Apartheid’ state amongst other things.  I set out to the central Galilee city of Nazareth, to see what it was like for Jesus to have grown up there, glimpses of places from the bible, how the Arab people there live in the centre of the Galilee and how different it is from Jerusalem.

Just before getting off the bus which took me from Jerusalem, I asked some people next to me if this was the right place to get off, and there didn’t seem to be a proper bus station, just a stop by the main road.   This Arab couple were really friendly and were happy oblige to walk with me from the street through some narrow streets uphill through the old city towards my hostel.

Jesus frequently went to and fro from here or the greater part of Galilee to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.  When you live some distance from your family this must be a lot of effort to travel often.

This provocative message to Christians stands out a junction heading north towards the Synagogue where Jesus first preached.  Behind is the tall turret of the famous huge and grand looking Bisilica Church.   It says “and whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the hereafter he will be one of the losers. – Holy Quran”

I have a better message though: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14 : 6

I have seen this on some guides before, and all the research I did suggested Nazareth is a safe city to visit, and it is too.  I had a number of worries though to do with the busy time of year.  I booked this trip at rather the last minute as its in between Pesach and Easter, and with two different holidays, the buses are not running for some of those days, Easter making it more busy for Christian visitors, and I had hoped to visit Tiberias but both youth hostels were fully booked, so was one of the main hostels in Nazareth, and I got myself one night booked but not for the other days, this needed a lot of prayer of exactly how to figure out where to stay….

Soon!  Different Youth Hostels, the Spice Mill, Thousands of Arab Israelis Christians in the streets at Easter, the church at Cana for weddings, today’s modern Nazarene carpenters and residents finding hidden wells in the back yards by accident!

1. Arrival at the city2. Staying in the old city3. The modern day Nazarene carpenter4. Where Jesus first preached5. Religious vehicles in Nazareth6. Mary’s Well and the Bath house7. The precipice8. On top of the Precipice hill9. More old city streets and market10. The spice shop11. Churches from A to Z or Alpha to Omega12. The Basilica church13. Easter service at the Basilica

Easter weekend & Pesach

Spent Easter sunday and monday wandering around the old city.   On sunday there was an early morning worship service at the Garden Tomb. Some of my friends went to this, but it was 6am and I slept in, so I got there later in the afternoon only to find it shut (it doesn’t normally open sundays)  After the early morning service there done by my church (King of Kings Jerusalem)   there was several other services in French, Spanish, Swedish and Arabic by some other Christian organisations.  I then went to a conventional service at my church in their regular building.

Not to worry, I got to visit the tomb today (Easter Monday)  as its the last day of the Jewish holiday of Pesach as well.  Its really easy to forget as gentiles, but Jews wont eat anything with yeast in on this time, so going to the bakery near my work place was shut for the weekend, as any conventional form of bread, cake or pastries are not available.  At this time Jews eat Matzvah which looks like an oversized cracker bread instead.  So stick some hummus or jam on it, and its pretty good.

The tomb was quite busy today of course, with Christian visitors from all over there, the garden looked very pretty too.