Chronicle of Tears and Joy 3 (Pesach–Jewish Passover)
Last Friday evening, my church had a Jewish Passover celebration done by a Jewish Rabbi couple. It was unique for me. He explained the symbolism behind the foods and meal etiquette. The pillow (or cushion) which we sat on represented our freedom in Christ, since slaves were not allowed to sit. The holes and the burning marks on the unleavened bread pointed to Jesus’ being pierced and flogged. The salt water was taken from the Dead Sea, so it was kosher. What impressed me the most was the horseradish, which was supposed to be the "bitter herbs." This represented the taste of "sin," and we had to eat this together with the unleavened bread. It had a sour and pungent taste, nobody liked it. It was done to remember the price Jesus paid for us, that He tasted sin and all its consequences for us. There was also another sweet thing that we took together with the unleavened bread, representing God’s grace that is sweet to our souls. Lastly, we have to take both of them, the bitter herbs and the sweet thingy together with the unleavened bread.
The bitter herb was really bitter and sour, no doubt. For me it was not so bad. I guess because of the acid taste in my mouth from the stomach reflux 24/7 had made me more tolerant of sours. We also had to drink four cups of grape juice, each symbolized something, such as the cup of redemption. While I was taking in the bitter herb, my Father spoke to my heart. The sour taste from the reflux was not very pleasant at all, and it is there all the time, I had no choice. It has been almost two years, I often wondered why it’s not somebody else, but I knew the answer. The pain of the world because of sin is real. He wanted me to taste a little bit of what He tasted. He gave me the cup of suffering. He asked me if I’d drink it. I said yes, but it didn’t come the way I’d expected. Still I said yes, not because I wanted to show that I could do something for Him. He said, for love, are you willing?
When I put the bitter herb into my mouth, it was sour but I actually felt a kind of emotion that was beyond an emotion. It was pain, it was love, it was bitterness, but it was joy. He asked if I sensed it, I said yes, I had from the beginning. That’s when my Father told me to change my Chronicle of Tears to Chronicle of Tears and Joy. Then my Friend said, when He was hung on the Cross, it was a mixture of suffering and joy. He then handed me the cup of joy. It was joyful because I learned what love is. I felt I came closer to know Who Love is. Suddenly I knew I could take in more bitter herbs, and the cup of suffering, and I wanted to.
After the Last Supper, they sang hymns and proceeded to the Garden of Gethsemane. According to Jewish tradition, one of the psalms they sang was Psalm 118. It’s a love paradox but it’s not. My Friend sang, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" (v. 24). It was the day that He was to experience the greatest pain ever known to humanity. He wept bitterly in the Garden, but He also rejoiced afterward. He said "for the joy that was set before Him…" (Heb. 12:2a). He didn’t need to finish, I said I knew, I am feeling it. At that moment, I saw what He saw, heard what He heard, and felt what He felt. I can never explain the suffering and joy of that moment.
I’m not sure how long the sour taste in my mouth is going to be there, but I could also feel the love in my heart–love for me and for the brokenhearted. The lamb of the Passover was good, so were the other foods. Actually the four cups of grape juice were pretty good. But I remembered the bitter herbs the most. My heart longed for them the most. It’s a strange feeling, a mixed feeling. Strangely warm, strangely bitter, strangely sad, and strangely happy. And I know they are all so real. Gently, the affection of Christ came. Tears wanted to cross their boundaries again. I wonder, what are tears made of, probably something bittersweet. However, He said in the end, it’s always going to be sweet, and the end will come. And the suffering will only make the joy more glorious, and more joyful.
He said and I heard. I took in the cup of suffering and the cup of joy. He said my Orange Days, like an orange, sometimes sourish and sometimes sweet, sometimes sweet and sour altogether. But if I eat it for Love’s sake, joy will always abound in my heart, because love has been perfected.
I’ll never forget these words: if Love becomes all that I am, if Love motivates all that I say and do, I’ll have truly known the Friendship of Jesus. To share in His heart is suffering. To share in His suffering is joy. The only reason is, it’s not about us. Love has dawned; Love gave. One day I’ll celebrate the days when we walked together in suffering and joy on this Earth, for the wounds of the world. That’s when we will drink of the fruit of the vine once again.
I will definitely need a lot of kleenex on that Day, for tears of joy and thankfulness. And I guess Heaven’s kleenex would be a lot better and whiter too.
"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).
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