Shalom in the wonderful name of Jesus, our Messiah!
This Passover/Easter time of year has undoubtedly been the most challenging, and yet in some ways, the most meaningful holiday season my wife, Zhava, and I have ever experienced. As I am sure you know, the Passover Seder is the foundation for the Lord’s Supper and fulfilled all that the Passover foreshadowed in the Book of Exodus regarding redemption and salvation.
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus, our Messiah, celebrated His last supper, which was, in fact, a Passover Seder—His final one. He demonstrated to His Jewish disciples that He was the fulfillment of all the longings and dreams the Jewish people had imagined about the ultimate deliverance promised in the Old Testament Scriptures. On that night, Jesus declared Himself to be the bread of life as He identified His body with the middle piece of matzo—usually broken, hidden, wrapped, and brought back, which is part of the traditional Passover Seder.
He portrayed Himself as the lamb of God, whose shed blood redeems those who put their faith in His death on the cross. The entire message of redemption is presented in type in the Passover and fulfilled by Jesus in the Last Supper. It is as if God sketched the Book of Exodus in black and white, and painted the Gospel of Luke in brilliant color.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:19–20)
Jesus is unquestionably the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the One whom Isaiah described when he wrote, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
I observed Passover with many friends of Chosen People Ministries via video on Tuesday night and with my Jewish family on Thursday night. There were forty of us on a Zoom call, reading through the Passover Haggadah, which tells the story of the exodus. Of course, my family does not yet believe that Jesus is the rest of the story, so please continue to pray that they might see that Jesus is our Passover.
We also had a beautiful Passover Seder, with all of its Messianic fulfillment, with my daughter and son-in-law, his parents, and my youngest daughter, as well—each one in their own home, but all of us together via the Internet. It was quite something until we tried singing one of the well-known Passover songs, Dayenu. It is not possible to have forty people on a Zoom call singing anything together. But it was still a beautiful and joy-filled experience.
The Chosen People Ministries staff are all working remotely in the United States and around the globe. We are having amazing conversations, Bible studies, and web-based outreach campaigns. People are home, available, and open to spiritual solutions to the overwhelming problems we face today.
I also wanted to let you know that Zhava and I are well, and our kids are all safe and sound. We continue to be healthy even though thousands around us in the greater New York area are sick and perishing. It just breaks my heart!
This morning, I awoke to a beautiful and sunny Resurrection Day to discover that the United States had crossed the threshold of 20,000 deaths due to the coronavirus and that the New York area accounts for almost half of this number. The state of New York recorded just under 800 deaths again yesterday. It is challenging to hold on to the rescue rope of social distancing and the various mitigation measures we have taken as a nation—as crucial as this is!
For those of us who believe in Jesus, Easter offers a better hope—a superior hope—as our greatest hope does not lie in our attachment to this world but to our relationship with the One who has conquered death and disease. He is the Great Physician who heals both body and soul and will one day remove the curse of sin from our world and wipe away every tear from our eyes.
If there is one thing we can learn from resurrection Sunday, it is that life goes on. The disciples who approached the empty tomb saw that the stone was rolled away but did not immediately believe Jesus had risen from the grave. They questioned the story told by Mary and the other women for a short time until He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and the rest of the disciples later on.
The truth is, Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death. It looked like His life had ended and with it any hope that He would establish the Davidic Kingdom at that time. Even though it now seemed to the disciples that they were alone in this world, without their Savior and Lord, whose mission seemingly failed, the truth was quite different. Jesus had not failed and, though He died, He had risen and was now alive—as He had promised!
The resurrection is the testimony that the work of salvation was completed on Calvary, that the promise of the Holy Spirit to be with us throughout our lives would be fulfilled, and that, one day, He would gloriously return.
This is why the Apostle Paul, at the conclusion of his first letter to the congregation in Corinth, wrote so eloquently, “…but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:57–58).
This passage guides and strengthens my life. It has kept me going in the face of family and community opposition, through tough times and difficulties, and now even a pandemic. It is this confidence in His resurrection and glorious return that puts a smile on my face today and every day, as I hope it does for you.
Thank you for your prayers and your generous and very faithful support.
I pray that this Resurrection Day will remind you of the great hope we have today and tomorrow, as HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD.
He is Risen,