A Bittersweet Beginning

Horseradish "dipped" in Charoset
Horseradish "dipped" in Charoset, Image by Carly & Art via Flickr

My interview at Armed With Iron is up as an .mp3, for those of you who missed the live show and have been wanting to hear it.  I’ll apologize for talking too fast in advance.  My word-speed shoots up when I’m excited at the best of time and Johnny and Karen brought a lot of extra energy to the show.  Once we get past the holidays, I’ll post my notes on modern Israel’s creation as promised and I’ll find some time to blog about the Assyrian connection to the Man of Sin.

For the moment, I’d like to highlight something that comes up in the last twenty or so minutes of the show, and that’s the maror, or bitter herbs, in the Passover.  Horseradish is the most common herb used, and it is traditional to dip a piece of matzah into the maror and get enough on it to light your mouth on fire and bring tears to your eyes as a remembrance of the tears our ancestors shed while in slavery in Egypt.

As Messianics, we note that it was exactly at this point in the Seder that Judas’ betrayal was exposed:

When Yeshua had said this, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Most certainly I tell you that one of you will betray me.”

The disciples looked at one another, perplexed about whom he spoke.  One of his disciples, whom Yeshua loved, was at the table, leaning against Yeshua’s breast.  Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”

He, leaning back, as he was, on Yeshua’s breast, asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

Yeshua therefore answered, “It is he to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judah, the son of Simon Iscariot.  After the piece of bread, then Satan entered into him.  Then Yeshua said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”

Now no man at the table knew why he said this to him.  For some thought, because Judah had the money box, that Yeshua said to him, “Buy what things we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor.  Therefore having received that morsel, he went out immediately. It was night.  (John 13:21-30)

The bitterness of this betrayal is prophesied in Psalm 41:5-9,

My enemies speak evil against me:
“When will he die, and his name perish?”

If he comes to see me, he speaks falsehood.
His heart gathers iniquity to itself.
When he goes abroad, he tells it.

All who hate me whisper together against me.
They imagine the worst for me.

“An evil disease,” they say, “has afflicted him.
Now that he lies he shall rise up no more.”

Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted,
who ate bread with me,
has lifted up his heel against me.

And again in Psalm 55:12-14,

For it was not an enemy who insulted me,
then I could have endured it.
Neither was it he who hated me who raised himself up against me,
then I would have hidden myself from him.

But it was you, a man like me,
my companion, and my familiar friend.

We took sweet fellowship together.
We walked in God’s house with company.

As Jews, we remember with tears the bitterness of slavery, and as Yeshua’s disciples, we remember with tears the betrayal of one who, according to the Scriptures, was genuinely and truly a trusted friend.  He was selected as one of the Twelve, cast out demons and healed the sick with them, was a leader among the other disciples, like the Seventy.  For two years of his life, he heard, ate, drank, slept, and breathed Messiah.  And then betrayed Him for the price of a slave.

(Actually, I suspect his motives were more complicated than mere financial gain–he doubtless could have bargained for more, but that’s another post.)

Yet out of that betrayal came sweetness.

It is a tradition to take a piece of the maror and dip it into the charoset, a sweet mixture of fruit (usually apple), nuts, and wine, and eat of it.  The charoset is the color of mortar, to remind us of the mortar of the bricks the Hebrew slaves made in Egypt, and yet it is a delightfully sweet food, to remind us that out of that bitter slavery came the sweetness of redemption and freedom.  The mixture of the bitter maror and the sweet charoset reminds us that we should never dwell solely on the bitterness of past wrongs, but should see the sweetness even in the darkest moments.

A window into the World to Come?

As I type this, it is the evening of the 17th of Nisan, the anniversary of Yeshua’s Resurrection.  So often when we talk about the discovery of the empty tomb or the Risen One walking among His disciples again, we speak of it as a mere confirmation of His identity as Messiah and acceptable Sacrifice.  But if Scripture is to be believed, it was far more than that; it was the dawning of a new era, the beginning of a new world:

But now Messiah has been raised from the dead. He became the first fruits of those who are asleep.  For since death came by man, the resurrection of the dead also came by man.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive.  But each in his own order: Messiah the first fruits, then those who are Messiah’s, at his coming.  Then the end comes, when he will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.   The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  (1Co. 15:20-26)

After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light and be satisfied.
My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself;
and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out his soul to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

“Sing, barren, you who didn’t bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife,” says the LORD.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of your habitations; don’t spare: lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.  For you shall spread out on the right hand and on the left; and your seed shall possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.  (Isa. 53:11-54:3)

And what is the proper portion in this present age of those who have put their trust in Yeshua?

Or don’t you know that all we who were immersed into Messiah Yeshua were immersed into his death?  We were buried therefore with him through immersion to death, that just like Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection;  knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin. (Rom. 6:3-7)

To both those who will be celebrating it today and those who will be celebrating it this coming Sunday, happy Resurrection Day!  Two thousand years ago, a new era dawned, and the world didn’t know.  Today, we have gone from the first breaking through of the ‘Olam Haba, the World to Come, the Messianic Age, and draw near to its glorious consummation.

Maranatha and shalom!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s