This post comes from my youth ministry blog; we are celebrating Good Friday with a modified Seder meal this coming Friday, April 6th.
I don't know if you are familiar with Passover or not. Growing up as the son of a pastor, it was something I was fairly familiar with. My family participated in a few Seder meals over the years, and we read the story of the Exodus many times throughout each year (you can read the whole book of Exodus, but I would recommend starting by reading 3:7-10).
Today, I spent about 2 hours making my own matzah (unleavened bread) for our Seder meal we will celebrate on Good Friday. It was the first time I had done so, and I was surprised at how much I learned through the experience.
First, the process really does get you thinking about what it means to follow God when He tells you to move. The Israelites were told to prepare their food quickly, eat it, and be ready to leave the land of slavery (Exodus 12). As I prepared and cooked each piece of matzo, I had to move fairly quickly. It wasn't something I could deliberate on.
As a Boy Scout, I learned the motto well, "Be Prepared." Many times in my life, I have wanted to be prepared for the future- going to college, arriving for a job interview, getting married, etc. Although there is nothing necessarily wrong with preparation, it does have the danger of controlling our lives. This is true when we use preparation as a means to worry, and Jesus warned against worry (Matt. 6:25-34).
In contrast to preparation caused by worry, we have to be ready to respond to God. This readiness comes from the realization that our plans must be held lightly, and when God directs us we must follow.
The second thing I realized while making matzos was that God really does want us to be dependent on Him. Our readiness to respond must always be placed in the context of relationship. What does it mean to live with God? It means we our lives clearly reflect our dependence on him as His people…and that might still sound a little mysterious to some people.
Let me put it this way- we all need food, shelter, and clothing. Without these things we fail to thrive. The people of Israel could have seen God’s call to follow Him as the losing of their stability and shelter- a very real threat to survival and thriving. When the people of Israel decided to follow God’s instructions, they visibly showed their trust in God. This is how God became their shelter and provision (for a good example of community praise to God for provision, see Psalm 136).
In other words, the bread of Passover reminds us that everything we have comes from God who has provided. He provided for His people in the past and he continues to provide for us. We must live with the Lord day by day. If your life does not show that, then you probably are not dependent on Him.
I actually hurt my hands a little while kneading the dough to flatten it. In particular, my wrists are still sore from working the dough. I still feel the resistance from making the two inch balls of bread. Again, this process brought me to an awareness of God’s work with His people.
Both individually and communally, God has faithfully brought His people to salvation. In a piece of matzo, we see this through the history of tradition. Tradition exists to remind us of what God has done. Some people fall in love with tradition for its own sake and become nostalgic. Instead, I believe God wants us to see tradition in terms of fulfillment. The work has been done for us and we now share in the richness of tradition.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Partially, he meant that he had come to fulfill the plan of salvation. In Jesus, the work of salvation has been fulfilled, completed, and made ready for us. To live without knowing Jesus is to starve, lacking the bread of life, which has been kneaded and worked out in salvation history. This is not just a metaphor; Jesus is the actual means by which we have life. This is why He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
This Good Friday, we will be celebrating the culmination of salvation history- the cross. We are going to do this through the sharing of a Seder meal. Hopefully, we will all be reminded of just why Good Friday is truly good. It is a celebration of the Bread of Life, who brings new life to those who are called by His name.