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Why was this night different?

I’m not used to Jewish people coming to my Passover presentations but the Passover demonstration I conducted at an Edinburgh church in June was different. Two Jewish people turned up. I knew Esther was going to be at the meeting because her Hebrew tutor told me he had invited her. But when Esther arrived, Joshua was with her.

In the presentation I explained the symbolism of the bitter herbs, the shank bone, the charoseth, the roasted egg, the salt water, the four cups of wine and so on but I made the Afikomen – the broken piece of matzah – a point of special focus. I suggested that the bread Jesus broke at his last supper with his disciples was the Afikomen and that the Greek word afikomenos means, ‘He is coming.’

 

After the meeting Esther, Joshua and I spoke at some length. One of the issues we discussed was the way of atonement. Joshua reminded me that Jews had their own means of atonement. On Yom Kippur, he explained, Jewish people confess their sins and repent of them. I asked if, at the end of 25 hours of fasting, prayer and confession he could say with absolute confidence that should he die at that moment he would go to heaven. Joshua admitted he didn’t actually fast on the Day of Atonement – at least not for the whole day – and that he went to synagogue simply to support his rabbi. Apart from that, no one could say with certainty that their sins were forgiven. I was then able to share that my certainty of heaven was based on the finished work of atonement achieved by Jesus.

 

Moving on, Joshua informed me that Jewish people don’t believe in the Trinity because the concept is absent from the Hebrew Bible. I asked who God was speaking to in Genesis 1:26-27 when he said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...’

 

Joshua was genuinely stumped but Esther suddenly spoke: ‘Oh, I see! Elohim [the Hebrew word for ‘God’] in Genesis 1 is plural!’

 

It was wonderful to talk to two delightful and genuine people. The next day, Joshua told his rabbi about the great meeting he had been to the previous evening and said that if it wasn’t for the fact that he was Jewish, he would gladly join the Free Church! The rabbi was not best pleased.

This article first appeared in the Autumn Herald 2014

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