A Vital History Lesson
The Jewish Passover began on March 30. Friday evening Jews gathered with their families and friends in the evening for the Seder, the evening Passover meal, where they ate Matzah (unleavened bread), haroset (a mixture of fruit, nuts, wine, and cinnamon) and matzah ball soup. The liberation story of God’s deliverance of Israel out of slavery in Egypt is retold, the Hallel (Psalm 113-118) is recited or sung, and the Nirtzah closes the evening with the wish, “May we celebrate Pesach in Jerusalem next year and may Messiah come.”
Christians, on the other hand, gathered for Good Friday services and focused on the crucifixion of Jesus. The Gospel accounts of Calvary are read, sermons explaining the meaning of Christ’s death preached, and believers partake in Holy Communion. Then Easter Sunday, the celebration of the resurrection gathers the largest crowds.
What concerns me is that two thousand years of history have strongly separated Jews and Christians. How did a learned rabbi in the first century present the history of Israel from the Egyptian Liberation to the time of David? According to this rabbi to whom did the Passover Lamb point?
Saul of Tarsus, also called by his Greek name, Paul, was a first century Jewish rabbi. For the next couple of days listen in as he teaches in the synagogue of Pisidian Antioch.
“Now setting sail from Paphos, Paul and his team came to Perga in Pamphylia. John deserted the team at this point and returned to Jerusalem. The rest passed over the mountains from Perga and arrived at Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue leaders sent word to them saying, ‘Men, brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.’
Paul stood and motioning with his hand said, ‘Men of Israel and you who reference God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and lifted up the people during their sojourn in the land of Egypt. With a powerful raised arm He led them out of Egypt and for about forty years cared for them in the wilderness. Destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave the Israelites their land as an inheritance. All this took about four hundred and fifty years. After these things, he gave them judges until Samuel, the prophet. Then the people asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, the son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. When the Lord removed him, he raised up David for Israel to be king and witnessed this about David, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do all things according to my will. Now God from the seed of David according to the promise raised up for Israel the Savior—Jesus.’” - Acts 13:13-26
I ask both Jews and Christians and anyone else to carefully read and think through Paul’s history lesson and where Jewish history leads.
LORD, use this devo to challenge both Jews and Christians to look carefully at this primary source from the first century that shows how Paul, the Jew, argued that his Jewish Scriptures led to Jesus, the Messiah. May the Messiah come.
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