Saturday, April 05, 2008

Passover And The Kosher Cracker Crisis.

One thing we Christians do during Easter (the Passover, but a month earlier due to different date certifying agencies) is celebrate Jesus by taking bread without yeast - crackers. The meaning of this is profound, but it seems everyone is shy about teaching the meaning. Jesus is, however, the Passover Lamb who died for us and whose blood protects us from destruction, which the Jews seem to have missed.

First, the bread:

' While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." ' - Matthew 26:26

Of course the bread is a symbol of Jesus, and the fact that we can only be saved from our sins by partaking in His death. But why no yeast? Why unleavened bread?

In Matthew 16:5, we have:

' "Be careful," Jesus said to them. "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." '

Perhaps my interpretation of this is unique, but I look at the Pharisees as bloody minded traditionalists, while the Sadducees were bloody minded modernists. Much of what they taught was true and proper, however, so we can't simply say everything they taught was wrong. Hence, the command was to "be careful". Just when you are getting comfortable with all of the truth they are teaching, something nasty will get mixed in. That is the yeast. It tends to work its way through the entire dough, multiplying and infecting everything as yeast is prone to doing. The same is true for erroneous teachings.

An example of this is the artistic creativity in Jesus Christ Superstar where Mary Magdalene was implied as a girl friend to Jesus. This, of course, blew up with the Da Vinci Code to make sure everything was nicely muddled for those who didn't grow up in the church.

But do those of us who are Christian teachers do this also? What does it mean to give a sermon where we ask WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?), answer this according to our own whims, and then proceed to serve communion with a bread that has no yeast? Didn't we just introduce our own yeast? Is it even possible for me to teach about Jesus without inserting some of my own ideas? Is there not a condemnation for those of us who proceed to twist Jesus for our own purposes while celebrating communion? For me, communion represents multiple things. The need for me to take Jesus as my personal savior. Also the need to make sure that Jesus is presented exactly as He is, without introducing my own subtle twists.


Delirious said...

This is a great post! As a Sunday School teacher of the adults in my congregation, I feel very strongly the need to teach correct doctrine, and not my own intellectual ideas about it. While there are many good books that teach good things, my responsibility is to focus on the scriptures and what they teach.

I also feel this way about modern translations of the Bible. So many times, those who translate, write things according to their own understanding or interpretation. Their intent to make it easier to understand is commendable, but I always fear that important truths can be lost.

Looney said...

Delirious, when I was younger my fuzzy understanding of this caused me to be rather hostile to Mormons. There is necessarily a large divide based on whether one considers the book of Mormon a valid scripture or a work of fiction.

As I get older, things get more complicated. I tired of systematic theology when I found various groups fighting passionately over minor details, and I was forced to admit that many doctrines I learned were from men and not the simple reading of the Word. Then there are those who preach from the pulpit in mainline churches and contradict so much of what Jesus says while pretending as if His miracles never happened.

I guess it was a realization that we are all imperfect in our teaching that caused me to relax. The Mormons have stayed firm on many key points, even though I still don't accept the book of Mormon. My main wish is that I would see a cross on Mormon churches, although I know that this symbol too has been abused.

It is a bit of an irony with this election. Romney received a lot of hostility for his Mormonism, but I feel that Obama's United Church of Christ is much less Christian. Hillary's United Methodists are a bit more varied, but also have some real goofy viewpoints among many leaders.

So I continue to study and continue to teach, praying to the Lord that He will help me to forcefully teach the truth, while not getting too many things wrong. Those of us who teach will be judged more severely.