Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yeshua Hamashiach and the Mystery of the Afikomen

The parallels between Matzoh and Jesus Christ (Yeshua Hamashiach) are wonderful images and the season of Passover/Easter brings them into light even more for me. Matzoh, as we know, is more than a big cracker (awesome with peanut butter by the way) but is bread made without leavening. In the New Testament leavening is always represented as sin. Jesus is the bread of life, he called himself that, and he was born without sin. Bread without leavening, Bread of Life without sin, that parallel always seems to sneak up on me every Passover. But this passover another mystery opened up to me, the Mystery of the Afikomen. 

During the Passover Seder there is one special piece of matzoh is broken into three pieces and placed in a folded napkin of a linen bag. There's really no explanation why this is done, nor is there a solid explanation what this represents, one theory is that these three pieces represent the three classes of people in ancient Israel: the Priests, the Levites, and the Israelites. Another tradition teaches that they symbolize the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And a third explanation is that it is a depiction of the "Three Crowns": the crown of learning, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship. I've even heard that the three matzoh represent the three kinds of Jews: reformed, conservative, and orthodox. 

These three matzoh are stacked up and the middle matzoh is taken and broken in half and one half is wrapped in a napkin and is hidden somewhere in the house. This piece of matzoh is called the Afikomen. At the end of the seder the children search for the Afikomen and when they find it they can sell it back to dad, or ransom it, usually for money or candy, and then the afikomen is eaten last. 

Afikoman is a Greek word, I don't know if that's a shock to you but to me it was an eye opener - a Greek word in an ancient Jewish ceremony? The Greeks were not loved at all by the Jews, especially when they took over Israel, and the fact that the Romans who later occupied Israel spoke Greek as they destroyed Israel and the temple in 70 AD you would think that the Jews would purge everything Greek from their ceremonies, but Afikoman remained. The origin is a bit unclear but today it's understood to have come from the Greek epikomion which was an ancient Greek tradition that ended dinner parties and sort of means "dessert" or it could have come from epikomioi which means "revelry". But Dr. David Daube, professor of law at Oxford University has another idea.

Think of this piece of matzoh, free from leaven (sin) it has been sacrificed. As one of three matzoh it's not representative of Isaac of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but it represents Jesus of the triune nature of God: Father Son, and Holy Spirit. If you look close it's been pierced and striped (during the baking process) like Jesus was at His execution, it's been broken, wrapped in linen, and hidden away, just as Jesus was. Finally at the end of the ceremony it reappears, everyone partakes of the afikomen and the seder is ended. Getting back to Dr. David Daube: he says the word Afikoman derives from the Greek word aphikomenos, which means "The one who has arrived" or "He has come"

When I learned that, I was overcome with such a profound sadness for my Jewish brothers and sisters. If this is true, if afikoman is indeed aphikomenos then all these years, decades, centuries, millenia the messiah was there, in their hands, and they couldn't see Him. At the same time I felt a sudden elation, that yes Jesus Is Messiah, and his message comes down to us through the ages through not just the written word in the Bible but the traditions and celebrations of God's chosen people, and I pray, I pray so hard, that someday they may join us in God's embrace and come to know Jesus, the one who has arrived and saved me. 

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