Saturday, April 03, 2010

Jesus' Resurrection: the Firstfruits of all who will rise

Ryan's parents practice their Christianity in the form of Messianic Judaism; that is, they keep the OT Law as "shadows" which they believe have been perfectly, joyfully fulfilled in Christ, The Messiah.

Ryan's dad practicing for his Torah reading

Discussing the Son of Man (recent paper topic of Ryan's) before service

OOOOH, whiskers!

She is fascinated with any and all strings (or any hanging thing)


Whenever we are here, we enjoy going with them to synagogue on Saturdays-- the people there have known Ryan since he was in middle school, which is longer than anyone else (besides family) whom we still see (semi-)regularly. They celebrated our engagement with us, and now they were thrilled to meet our baby! She was fascinated by Rabbi Warren, fell asleep during the liturgy, and then enjoyed dancing with her grandpa after the service.

A few believers rejoicing and praising our God in dance after the service

I always learn something from synagogue; some perspective often missed by mainstream evangelicals, because, well... we're just not as familiar with the practices & beliefs of new-testament Jews. This time it had to do with Resurrection. One perspective I'll post as a separate post. Here's the other thing that really got me thinking though:

Jesus rose following the Sabbath after Passover. That's the day faithful Jews celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits. As a way of reminding themselves that God was the giver of all things, as well as their ultimate owner, Jews were commanded to bring the first part of their crops to Him as an offering. This was a celebration of God's provision as well. These first fruits offered back to God were called "firstfruits," and the concept of firstfruits pervaded much of Jewish life. The firstborn, for instance, was a type of firstfruit. The celebration of Firstfruits came in the early spring, at the barley & almond harvest. It was also called the "poor man's" harvest, and was celebrated the day after Passover.

Both the early crops were a joy in and of themselves, as the first hint of spring, and also a promise that the BIG harvest were coming in a month or so. Those would be celebrated and tithed on at the Feast of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks or Shavuot). Ok... so old Jewish calendar, we've got Passover (reminding us of the need for blood to save us from death, and then to dramatically, miraculously, deliver us from slavery), then we've got First Fruits (reminding us that God always provides, and pointing to a full harvest to come) and then we've got Pentecost (reminding us of the full harvest, and of God's giving of the Law for His people to obey). How were each of those fulfilled in Christ? Jesus died as the Ultimate sacrifice on Passover. He rose in triumph on Firstfruits. He brought in a whole harvest of 3000 souls on Pentecost, as He gave the Spirit making us wanting to and able to obey! WOW!

Paul's comment in Romans 15:20- "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep"- suddenly makes so much more sense to me! Not only is Jesus' resurrection an amazing triumph in and of itself, it is & was pointing to the resurrection of ALL believers! We rejoice not just because He rose, but because we, too will rise one day!

One more tidbit: The almond, harvested at First Fruits, itself was an early symbol of resurrection, because God had made Aaron's staff, made from an almond branch, bud again. He had made something that had died live and blossom again. How appropriate that He should raise His Son's body right when everyone was already thinking about His power to give new life!

1 comment:

ju.vanderw said...

I love getting different perspective on beliefs. I think sometimes "mainstream" Christianity starts to create its own set of rules or beliefs that are not actually in the Scripture. So it's always refreshing to see things from new point of view. (For example, I heard that the Jews actually don't believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present from a Bible teacher at college... Don't know if it's true though.)