As Jews – and more and more Christians – observe Passover week, a headline in Christianity Today caught my eye.
It seemingly proclaimed as fact, “Jesus didn’t eat a Seder meal.”
The subhead went further: “Why Christians shouldn’t either.”
Wow! As a Passover-observing Christian, I had to read this article – and understand.
Written by two rabbis who celebrate Jewish-Christian dialogue, Yehiel Poupko and David Sandmel, it turned out the commentary itself did not go nearly as far as the headlines – an example, perhaps, of either “click bait” or “fake news” on the part of the once-esteemed Christian magazine.
As close as the rabbis came to making either one of those statements was a mild warning to followers of Jesus to be sensitive in their observances to Jews who celebrate Passover today in a different way than first-century Jews like Jesus and His apostles did.
So popular and widespread has Passover become among followers of Jesus that some rabbis are apparently concerned the trend borders on a modern form of cultural appropriation – especially when the observances are conducted by or involve messianic rabbis.
The rabbis offer only this caveat: “This is a phenomenon that cannot be denied, but it is one that most Jews find particularly troubling.”
Nowhere in this article do the rabbis suggest that Jesus didn’t eat a Passover meal nor that Christians shouldn’t either – with good reason.
Yes, indeed, Jesus and His apostles observed Passover. Many, if not most, of his disciples did so for centuries after His death and resurrection until the Roman Empire in Constantine’s time made it strictly illegal to do so. Some continued the practice for the next 1,900 years. And more and more are reviving the observance this week in the year 2017.
As I wrote in my latest book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age,” so it should be expected.
Because, as it was in the beginning, so it will be at the end.
Early Christianity was deeply rooted in first-century Judaism. It is nearly impossible to imagine how Hebraic that apostolic faith was without a complete reorientation away from pagan traditions that began creeping into Christianity decades after the fall of the Temple and continuing into the third and fourth century. Both history and New Testament Scripture are explicit on this point.
The Apostle John writes of Gaius, “whom I love in the truth … who walkest in the truth … taking nothing from the gentiles.” (3 John 1-7)
He contrasts this righteous disciple with another emerging church leader – a man named Diotrephes “who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not.” (3 John 9)
John, the youngest of the apostles and the longest surviving, continues in 3 John:10-11: “Wherefore, if I come (to see Diotrephes), I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.”
Understand what you are reading here.
The Apostle John writes in Scripture that an emerging gentile church leader named Diotrephes is refusing to meet him nor “the brethren,” which means the Jewish believers in Jesus. Instead, he is casting them out of the church.
This is what I call evidence of early replacement theology right there in the New Testament Scriptures. That’s how quickly Christianity began to drift from the Jewish-dominated faith of the first century to what became, centuries later, a different faith entirely – a gentile-dominated one with its own new man-made pagan traditions.
Why is this important to recognize in the debate over whether Christians should observe Passover?
Because, if we believe in the “truth,” as John states, Christianity was intended to be built on the foundations of the Hebrew faith rather than an abrogation or replacement of it.
In other words, followers of Jesus must never forget who He was and is – the Messiah to the Jews and the Savior of the whole world.
Ask yourself this: Would Jesus feel more welcome and comfortable at a messianic Passover service or an Easter ham dinner? It’s an absurd question, isn’t it? Neither Jesus nor His apostles and disciples would ever think of eating something biblically unclean.
Thus, the real cultural appropriation, it would seem, took place many centuries ago, when gentiles, with pagan traditions, took over the church and replaced much of the beauty, simplicity, truth, humility and majesty of its scriptural Hebraic origins – often through coercion.
Is it wrong for followers of Jesus to restore what was lost?
Not at all.
In fact, we know from reading prophecies of the Coming Kingdom that I write about in “The Restitution of All Things,” that Jesus Himself is going to restore everything to its original, intended Israel-centric meaning – including the Sabbath, the Torah and the sacred holy days.
Therefore, the rediscovery of the original faith is not only wise and scriptural, it’s prophetic.
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