Saturday, 6 April 2013

Not One of His Bones Will Be Broken

I know that Easter has now passed for this year, but the concept of the resurrection has made me dig a little deeper this year and it is still weighing on my mind.

John 19 tells of Jesus' death on the cross

'31 Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32 The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33 But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35 The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36 These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” 37 and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.

The Scripture referred to here as being fulfilled is Psalm 34:20
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
But the picture of no bones being broken goes back to Exodus when the Israelites were in Egypt. God gave Moses and Aaron VERY CLEAR and specific instructions on how to prepare the lamb and smear the blood on the doors of their homes so that God would not 'permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.'

He then gave instructions for the Israelites to “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants."
And included in these instructions were the following specifics about this yearly Passover ritual:

 “It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones."
2 years later, while wandering in the desert, God tells Moses they must celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. He again provides clear instructions.

They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.
These are instructions that Jewish people followed for 1400 years. For thousands of years, the Jewish people celebrate Passover, eating a lamb in which none of the bones are broken.

From a 20/20 hindsight perspective, the Old Testament clearly foreshadows the Messiah as the ultimate sacrificial lamb. Reading these instructions to the Jewish people, and seeing how modern day Jews prepare for the Passover really makes me wonder.

It seems that there were two instructions, the first being how the lamb was to be prepared and consumed within the house, with fire and with no bones broken, and the instruction about the unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The unleavened bread was to set a tradition for them to remember how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and that they had to leave in a hurry. The lamb was their sacrificial offering. But in that lamb was their big clue about the Messiah. 

Today, many Jewish people put much effort into cleaning out their homes, getting rid of leavening agents etc. and then there is a feast with stew and many other types of meats. As I read about Jewish preparation for Passover, I kept thinking - what about the lamb? Weren't the instructions about the lamb clear?

Then I thought about how christians celebrate Easter. We hide eggs and tell our children that the Easter bunny visited during the night. And then we go to church and remember the crucifixion and we sing in celebration that he rose again. Which is certainly a joyous occasion and a great reason to celebrate. 

And then we go home and feast on turkey and/or ham. Why turkey, or why ham? I have no idea. 

But how did Jesus actually instruct us to remember? It was during his dinner before the Passover, his final dinner with his disciples, the Last Supper, in which he gave us his final wishes on how we should remember him.

It is in what we call Communion. Sharing some bread and wine with believers and remembering the sacrifice he paid for us. Isn't that what we should be doing on Easter?

Weren't Jesus' instructions clear?

Of course, I wouldn't complain if we were to roast a whole lamb and eat that with our Easter dinner next year.