Heaven and Hell on Easter Weekend
Photo by Cora Suggs

Heaven and Hell on Easter Weekend

Music and visual images move me. They add depth and width that words can’t often do on their own. Easter weekend brought significant scenes to life for me.

The Friday before Easter is traditionally known as “Good Friday.” Good for me. Not so good– it would seem– for Jesus. Yet there’s something important about remembering the cross and the suffering of our Savior. Bringing these images back to life reminds us of the height and depth …the length and width of His love for us as He spread out His arms to die for us then wrapped them around us to show us how much He loves us (See Romans 8). It’s like no other story in history.

It’s in the repeating of the story that we choose to remember and remind our children and grandchildren so the story will continue to be told through all generations. Fresh on our hearts. Never buried in the rubble of life.

“Generation after generation stands in awe of your work;
each one tells stories of your mighty acts.”

Psalm 145:4 MSG

Four of us gathered in our little cottage on “Good Friday” to pause and remember the “mighty acts” of God through sharing a Passover Seder meal together. Keeping the memory alive in a symbolic way through taste and spoken word. Sharing a meal around the table in a way that Jesus seemed to love so much.

Preparations were made to begin the journey to remember. God knew we were prone to forget. He remembered too — remembered that we are dust. It would take intentional gathering and rehearsing to remember.

 

 

Photo by Cora Suggs

 

“Kugel” — Photo by Cora Suggs

 

Photo by Cora Suggs

 

“Charoset” (“symbolizes the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves” *)–Photo by Cora Suggs

The intentional table was set as if setting in motion the real-time events of that first Passover. Every dish …every word spoken …every movement brought the story back to life.

Jonathan Bernis of Jewish Voice Ministries International, describes the Passover Seder as a time “to enhance ‘the telling” … It is also the essence of the celebration — to pass the story of God’s faithfulness and redemption from generation to generation.”

He reminds us that “the Passover story is historical fact. It recounts and celebrates the deliverance of the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt … For Believers in Yeshua, Passover is not only a commemoration of the historical deliverance from Egypt, it is a foreshadowing of our redemption from sin and death purchased through the Lamb of God, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).”

 

Photo by Cora Suggs

 

Photo by Cora Suggs

The cup — a symbol of joy and blessing. Washing of hands — purification. Parsley — “all good gifts come from God.” Bowl of salt water — tears shed.

“…the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God …” (Exodus 2:23 NIV)

The matzah — the bread of affliction. Horseradish — bitter herbs reminding of the “bitterness of slavery.” Roasted egg — peace. Lamb shank — the Passover Lamb.

And this was the last supper Jesus ate with His disciples. Then all Hell broke loose.

After the cup of joy came the betrayal at the hand of someone He deeply loved and I remembered my own stories and those I’ve heard from many of my friends of abuse and betrayal. Pain and agony at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect.

Schemes around the campfire of hell itself. Plans devised around the fire pit to harm us and destroy us. Enslave us. Defeat us.

Conversations hatched to crack open wounds that would bring division, unforgiveness, jealousy, resentment, worry, anxiety, pride, selfishness, addictions, suspicions, assumptions, hatred, racism, superiority, abuse, death.

And it seemed like the Saturday between the cross and the resurrection would bring hell on earth.

But on Saturday, we sang together with others as if announcing the Resurrection was coming. The story was not over.

Turns out the word ” ‘Afikomen’ is the only Greek word in the Passover Seder …It is the form of the ikneomai, which means literally ‘ I CAME.’ ” (from the booklet, Messianic Passover Haggadah –Jonathan Bernis, Jewish Voice Ministries International)

And Jesus came. Our Healer. Our Defender. Our Savior. Our Redeemer. Our Advocate.

Hell may break loose but Heaven always breaks through.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is real. Death will not win. Hell’s fire will be extinguished. God has won the victory. The story has not ended but we know the ending and it’s good.

“This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.

And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.”

from Matthew 16 (MSG)

And hope rises out of the ashes. Singing through the suffering.  Joy in the journey in between death and resurrection. 

God’s Kingdom has come to earth. Death is defeated. Jesus Came!


*Much gratitude to Jewish Voice Ministries and Jonathan Bernis in their booklet, Messianic Passover Haggadah to help us understand the depth of God’s love in the Passover. 

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 7 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

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