There has been an increasing interest in recent years about the Jewish roots of Jesus, which has been incredibly helpful for our understanding of him and what he was trying to share. Too often in the past we have tried to create a Jesus that is either made into our image (think of some of the actors playing him with blond hair and blue eyes!) or westernised or taken out of his cultural setting.
This is obviously dangerous on a whole series of levels. Firstly, it doesn’t take the words and deeds of Jesus seriously. If our point of reference is ourselves and our society then we miss so many important things of what Jesus was doing and how they would have been heard. We interpret his words and deeds through our own societies preferences. We then all too easily we find Jesus blessing what we want blessed and cursing what we want to curse. Secondly, it doesn’t value his culture and the culture that he interacted with and people can all too easily buy into anti-semitism. Jesus was a Jew. He would have looked Jewish (middle-eastern and dark hair for example). His disciples were Jews and none of them would have considered themselves other than Jewish. Thirdly, we miss so much of how Jesus and the first disciples saw him what that meant. For example, much of modern protestantism is based around the Reformation and figures such as Luther and Calvin. However, some of their doctrines were more based around opposing late medieval Catholicism than taking seriously the first century Jewish thought categories of Jesus and the disciples. Jesus saw himself as fulfilling the promises of God to the Jewish people. But too often we miss so much of the symbolism of his words and deeds in a Jewish context.
Which leads us to last night when we celebrated a Passover Supper together to help us experience and celebrate the Jewish Messiah. We read from the book of Exodus and the story of the first Passover. We shared the significance of the different foods that we ate and why. We explored the amazing links between over the Passover and how Jesus was our own Passover Lamb. We sang and some of us even danced. It was a joyous and profound evening and helps us to glimpse, even if only a little, at the Jewish Jesus and what he set about to be and to do.
The pictures below are from our Passover Supper last night (click a picture to see them in a larger format):