Tag: Thanksgiving

Passover and Jesus

What does the Passover have to do with Jesus?

What does the Passover have to do with Jesus? The Eucharist or Holy Communion is a celebration of the Passover.  About 10 years ago, I attended a celebration of Passover with Messianic Christians while in Arizona during medical school.  The celebration of Passover with the group Tikvah Ba Midbar (Hope in the Desert) changed my life.  For the first time, I saw the connection of our Jewish roots as Christians.  I always wondered how eggs and bunnies made it into the celebration of Easter.  What do eggs and bunnies have to do with Jesus raising from the dead?  Really, not much.  It turns out that our word “Easter” comes from the pagan goddess Ishtar.  Ishtar is a fertility goddess.  She was a goddess of love, war, and sexuality and known as the “courtesan of the gods.”  The celebration of Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ should not be discounted however.  Since nearly the second or third century, Christians have been celebrating Easter as the resurrection of Christ.  However, is it surprising that the Enemy would weave in eggs and bunnies to pollute the meaning of this time?

There is still much debate about Easter and when it should be celebrated. Western and Eastern Christianity set the date using different calendars.  Western Christianity (Roman Catholicism and most Protestantism) set the date using the Gregorian calendar and Eastern Christianity (Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox) set the date using the Julian calendars.  Easter is a moveable holiday and occurs in the spring between March 22nd and May 8th.  It is dependent on the equinox of the sun and which calendar one is using.  Passover, however, is always celebrated on 14 Nisan (in the Jewish calendar). It begins at sunset on 14 Nisan and goes until sunset on 15 Nisan.  Passover is technically only a one-day celebration.  However, it is usually observed together with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which goes until the 21st of Nisan.  Within the Feast of Unleavened Bread is another feast, the Feast of First Fruits on 16 Nisan.  Why so much time discussing dates? Because, these feasts are prophetic of Christ’s resurrection.  They were implemented more than 3000 years before Christ came on the scene of history.  They were and are celebrated by God’s chosen people, Israel.

Let us get back to the Passover story now.  I had heard the story of the Exodus before but until going to the Passover Seder (say-der) in Arizona, I had not realized that the entire story of redemption by Christ was packed into the Passover.  Each year, Jews all over the world celebrate the Passover in their homes.  The Passover is the really the story of the exodus of the Israelites.  However, after the Israelites escaped from captivity and were delivered into freedom, God proclaimed the remembrance of that deliverance by celebrating the Passover feast.

The Story of the Passover:

The Israelites were in bondage in Egypt.  They were enslaved and treated cruelly by Pharaoh.  They were forced to make bricks from clay and straw in hard labor.  God promises the Israelites with four “I will’s.” He says, “I am the Lord, and I will free you from the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with might acts of judgment. I will take you as my people and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:6-7)

God had already chosen his people and told them that he would deliver them and make them free and take them as their God.  Moses then went by God’s command to speak to Pharaoh to ask for the Israelites freedom.  God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and made him resistant to Moses’ request.  So, God sent ten plagues on the people.  God first made the water of the Nile into blood, then sent frogs, gnats, flies, cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, and covered the land with darkness.  Finally, God sent the death of the firstborn.  However, before God sent the tenth plague, God instituted the Passover. On the tenth day of the month, the Israelites were to bring a 1-year-old unblemished lamb into the household.  They were to care for it for 4 days and then on the 14th day, cut its throat, take the blood and put it over the doorpost.  They were to roast it over fire and eat it in haste with their sandals on their feet and staff in hand. They were to be careful not to break a bone in its body and any uneaten portions were to be burned in the fire.  (Exodus 12:1-15) God also commanded that they put away yeast from their households and to eat bread that was baked without yeast (unleavened bread, i.e. matzo) for 7 days.

The blood of the lamb was placed over the door and the death angel literally “passed over” the house and the firstborn of the house was spared.  This is where the term “Passover” comes from.  Finally Pharaoh released the people.  God delivered them through the Red Sea through the wilderness and eventually after 40 years to the Promised Land.

Passover and the Lord’s Supper

As we have previously discussed, the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist or Holy Communion IS the Passover celebration revealed.  In Matthew 26, we find Jesus celebrating the Passover with his disciples.  In the Passover meal, we find 4 cups that are taken during feast. The first two are taken before the meal.  These are the Cup of Sanctification/Freedom and the Cup of Deliverance.  There is then a meal and a breaking of bread together.  After the meal, there are two more cups taken together. These are the Cup of Redemption and the Cup of Thanksgiving.  Before the third cup, half of a matzo called the “Afikomen” which was previously hidden by the father of the house is found.  The Afikomen is the portion of matzo that Christ took after/during the meal and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.”   After the bread, He took the third cup, the Cup of Redemption stating to His disciples, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:27-29).

What is interesting is how perfectly Christ fits the prophesy of the Passover. We refer to Christ as the Passover Lamb. (1 Cor 5:7, 1 Pe 1:19) If one looks at matzo, we find that it has holes (piercings) that are in lines (stripes).  Isaiah 53:5 states that “He was wounded (pierced) for transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (NKJV).

Now let us clarify the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah.  The Jews look back at their deliverance in the past that God promised. But they also look towards a future deliverer, a Messiah.  Jesus, who is God incarnate, steps in as the perfect sacrifice to cleanse the people of their sins.  Hebrews (4:14-16) clarifies Jesus’ status as a high priest.  Each day required that the priests offered animals for their sins and the sins of themselves.  But even the priests were imperfect and the animals were a stand-in for a coming perfect sacrifice.  Jesus, living a completely obedient life, offers Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the people.  He celebrates the prophesy with His disciples that HE is the redeemer.  The Cup of Redemption is a celebration of His blood spilled to cover the sins of all.  The bread, which was broken, is a representation of Him who was pierced for our transgressions.  The Jews were required to take the blood of the lamb and offer it at the temple each year during the Passover.  However, after the temple was destroyed, Orthodox Judaism finds that the bread stands in AS the lamb because there is no place to offer the sacrifice for Passover.  Again, let me emphasize, Jesus takes the “Afikomen” (αφικομην) which is a Greek word meaning, “Coming one” or “I am come” and he says, “Take, eat, this is my body.”  This is the lamb that made the Israelites strong and ready to be delivered.  It is the lamb that healed them.  It is the blood that kept them from death.

Let us get back to the dates and connect what Passover should mean to the Christian.  Passover has been celebrated for nearly 5000 years.  It is always on the 14th of Nisan.  It is based on the lunar calendar and it is unchanged.  It is not based on a solar calendar or in an Eastern or Western church.  Passover was implemented before Christ came.  For the Christian, Passover is a prophetic sign of Christ’s coming and resurrection.  For the Christian, Passover is also a historical remembrance of Christ’s coming and resurrection.  Christ is our Passover Lamb. The Eucharist, the “Thanksgiving,” the “Communion” is what Passover entails. We truly are celebrating the death angel’s “passing over” us when we place Christ’s blood on the doorpost of our hearts. We commemorate His intercession for us as we participate in the Eucharist, which is truly the Passover.

Grander RoundsThe Lord Thy Surgeon

Where has the doctor-patient relationship gone?

“We used to treat patients. Now, we treat computers.”  Such is some of the frustration facing the 21st century doctor today.  In 2014, implementation of Electronic Health Records was mandated across the board in healthcare facilities in the United States.  This was done with the goodwilled hope that quality and efficiency would improve. Legible and easily transferable records would ultimately help the patient and decrease costs. Unfortunately, these systems have increased costs everywhere. Doctors are now less efficient because of tedious interfaces and the necessity of documenting unnecessary information.

One thing that has improved: monitoring… Now CMS can monitor doctors’ performance, and on the basis of what they’re [not] doing or documenting [in]correctly, decide their compensation.  It takes coders on both sides to determine the right codes to describe what the doctor did in order to bill correctly.  Entire degrees have been created just to become a medical coder.  What happened to the good ol’ days of seeing your doctor and just paying him what you could afford for your visit? Perhaps you could have bartered a goat or a chicken with your doctor.  Honestly, I can’t even tell you exactly what it costs to come see the doctor.  At our hospital, we have a 24 hour nurse (probably more than one) that is there just to determine whether your admission is “observation” status or “full admission” status.  Their daily job is to review the status of a patient’s admission because the hospital may be partially paid or forfeit payment if it is listed incorrectly. Have we really come so far that our job as healthcare workers is to make sure that we collect enough costs and document thoroughly so that we can keep our jobs?  I’m not against collecting money for services but it seems like we’ve lost the heart of what medicine is: The doctor-patient relationship.

Obstacles, barriers, curtains, walls.  These are what we have set between our doctors and the patient.  We have so many middlemen in the temple of healing now.  What occurred to me this week is that men are great at setting up barriers.  Our new emergency department (about 5 years old now) went to completely private rooms. There are 2 doors to enter the ED waiting area, 1 door to get to the back area of the ED, 1 door to get into the patient room, 1 door to get into the inner core of the ED pod, and 1 door still that can separate the doctor “fishbowl” from the inner core.  6 doors separate the doctor from the patient outside the hospital.  The suffering patient can be physically separated from the healer.  It is easy to see how, to the doctor, the patient could become just a name on a list in the computer, sitting in a room down the hall.  Even while in the room, the computer’s information may dominate the words coming out of the patient’s mouth or sound of their lungs in the stethoscope.  Is not being a doctor more than processing the data in a computer?  Why are politicians, bureaucrats, administrators, coders, and everybody else telling the doctor and the patient what their relationship should be? Yes, clinical decision aids are helpful in computers. Yes, legible data that is easily transmittable is good.  But have we forgotten what was basic to the healer-healed relationship?

I think the same is true in our spiritual lives.  We have forgotten the Doctor-patient relationship.  We have set up barriers to our worship and praise.  We have set up barriers in our relationship with God.  We do not want to be naked before our Creator.  We put doors between God and our transgressions.  We put gowns over our iniquities.  We put traditions and religiousness in place of intimacy.  But isn’t orthodoxy a good thing? The priests, pastors and congregation can then monitor our holiness!?… Is this the kind of relationship our Creator wants?

At first, it was from a distance. It was for our own good. The temple of Israel had regulations. God’s holiness was separated from us because He could not identify with our sinfulness.  Sin was utterly sinful and God completely Holy. To approach Him, certain steps had to be taken.  The entire book of Leviticus is filled with the regulations for worship in the temple.  Wash here, purify there, separate here, slay there, pour blood here, sanctify there.  Most importantly, separate the holy from that which is stained.  Keep them apart! In fact, “holy” means “set apart” or “to be sanctified.” How could He Who was Holiness identify with a fallen creation?  How could He possibly have a relationship with us?…It is because HE TORE DOWN THE BARRIER!

In Christ, God tore the curtain between man and Himself! (Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45, Matthew 27:51) God came in the flesh and suffered with us! He had compassion on us. Compassion is made of two words. “com-” or “con-” or “co-” prefixes meaning “together/with” and “pathos” meaning suffering.  “Path-ology” is the department we send diseased tissue.  It is “the study of suffering.”  It is He Who identified with our suffering. He suffered WITH us. He knew what the pain felt like. He was tempted in the same ways.  As Hebrews states, “For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Heb 4:15-16) Jesus was offered as the perfect offering to God so that we could have relationship with Him!  (Heb 9:11-25) This is the meaning of the communion.  It is the Thanksgiving offering. It is the Passover.  It is togetherness with Him.

Why do we set up these barriers? Why do we make excuses? Why do we not just turn to Him in our time of need? Why do we make everything a complicated procedure? Faith and trust is what He is looking for.  As Habakkuk says, “My righteous one will live by faith.” (Hab 2:4) And to David He said, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14) In Hebrews it says, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 10:6) And to Micah He says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Mic 6:8) Should we not walk closer with Him?

John explains our relationship with Him well. “Now this is the gospel message we have heard from Him and announce to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and He Himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” (1 John 1:5-2:2)

Why do we continually set up barriers between the doctor and the patient? Why do we set up barriers between the Lord thy Surgeon and ourselves? A doctor must take a history and do a physical examination.  It requires talking with and touching the patient.  As doctors, we use light to see where the problem is.  It is hard to see exactly what the disease is without being in the room.  I cannot tell you if you need stitches if you don’t show me your laceration. So why is it we do not want to come into His light to show Him where our problem is? Our sin is painful. We are ashamed of it. It is the part of us that is ugly and deformed.  But the Surgeon has the healing we need if this sin is exposed to Him. He provides the sin covering in the blood of Christ  He provides the healing in the body of Christ.

Computers and technology are not bad. Orthodoxy is not bad.  The temple was not bad.  The temple was complicated.  So, let us (as doctors) get back to listening to the patient and examining them and identifying the problem. Let us stop treating computers and and go back treating to the patient. As patients, let us seek a doctor that listens to our problem and examines our iniquities. As patients, let us seek the Surgeon in prayer and seek His Word.  Let us seek the intimacy that He wants.  Let us go by boldly to the throne of grace. (Heb 4:16) Let us restore the Doctor-patient relationship by communion with Him.  It was God Himself Who established Doctor-patient relationship when He tore the veil on Calvary. (Mat 27:51)  It is God who is our Healer. He is the Lord thy Surgeon.