The 'Last Pesach'
It was after the meal when the controversy started.
Earlier a piece of matzah was broken in half and one piece of it, the afikomen, was hidden until later. Now Jesus recovered the afikomen and blessed it. But then, no doubt to the surprise of all, he added the words, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
What was this? This wasn't part of the Passover liturgy. No, it wasn't, but it was to become one of the central themes of Christian liturgy.
Why should a broken piece of Matzah remind you of Jesus? Let's be serious here, think about it. If something is going to be used as a symbol for time immemorial it would be useful if there was some connection between the symbol and the subject.
There are two points of similarity, which will give us clues as to the identity and mission of this Jesus.
Firstly, as mentioned earlier, the bread was unleavened, without yeast. Yeast, chametz, was a symbol for sin, in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the teachings of Jesus, so what Jesus was teaching here was the fact of his sinlessness.
Jesus claimed to be without sin, the only man ever to make this claim. How could this be so? Ever since Adam sinned against God we have inherited this sin nature. We don't need to be taught to be sinful, it comes quite natural to us. Infants have to be taught the right behaviour, the naughtiness comes quite naturally.
So how did Jesus escape from this curse? The clue is in the manner of his birth. Remember, in the last chapter, Jesus' mother was a virgin when she had him, as prophesised by Isaiah 7. So how did he get here? Was it the stork? Was he just left on the doorstep? No, his birth was completely natural, though his conception wasn't.
We learn of his conception in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 1. In verse 18 we read, "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."
The Holy Spirit, what's that? Actually, it should be 'who's that', as the Holy Spirit, believe it or not, is a 'he' not an 'it'. The Holy Spirit is a member, along with God the father and Jesus the Son, of the Trinity. There, I've said it ... Trinity. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for Jews, when it comes to Christianity.
Jews proudly claim that God is one, a singular person and the whole idea of God being three is ridiculous. Christians would agree, they also assert that God is one, but there is a tri-unity about that oneness. Wow, my brain hurts. It's just one of those difficult subjects that is, along with a whole host of doctrines, whether Jewish or Christian, that are a mystery.
If we could fully understand this and other mysteries then we would have the mind of God, because he has chosen, in his infinite wisdom, to keep the reasons and meanings to himself. Who are we, with minds incapable of solving the Times crossword (or the 'Sun's' one, in my case), to compare ourselves with the mind that created the Universe, the Earth and the earwig?
Yet there are many hints in the Old Testament that, although God is in the singular, there are 'plural' aspects of his personality. There are many examples, but this is only an introduction to the subject, rather than an in-depth theological treatise. So it is out of place to cover them here .... thank goodness!