THE JEWISH JESUS
JESUS WAS RAISED A JEW BY DEVOUT JEWISH PARENTS
He was circumcised according to the Law (The Torah)
on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2.21),
and was presented to the Lord in the Jerusalem temple
(Luke 2.22 and Leviticus 12.2-8).
During the so-called 'missing years', Jesus received a Jewish education.
By the age of twelve Jesus was growing in understanding,
and was found by his anxious parents in the temple precincts
"both listening and asking questions" (Luke 2.46) way beyond his years.
Every year Jesus' family went up to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Luke 2.41-43) a tradition which Jesus continued (John 12.12; Mark 14.12-26).
He also observed the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot, 'booths') (John 7.1-39).
John 10.22-23 it would appear that Jesus celebrated Chanukkah, that commemorated the 2nd century B.C. rededication of the Temple under the Maccabees.
As was his custom he also attended synagogue (Luke 4.16) even during his travelling ministry (Mark 1.39; Matthew 4.23; 9.35; Luke 4.15,16-27,44).
JESUS AND YOM KIPPUR (The Day of Atonement)
YOM KIPPUR is Judaism’s most sacred day of the year.
It occurs a few days into the Jewish New Year, (usually September-time)
after Rosh Hashanah.
IT’S A BIT LIKE LENT from the aspect of fasting and Confession,
and from the point of view of synagogue attendance,
it’s a bit like Christmas for “Church of England” Jews!!!!
The Torah commands all Jewish adults
(apart from the sick, the elderly and women who have just given birth)
to abstain from eating and drinking between sundown on the evening before Yom Kippur and nightfall the next day. The fast is believed to cleanse the body and spirit,
as is similar in Catholic Christian Lenten practice.
The first Yom Kippur took place after the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and their arrival at Mount Sinai, where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.
Descending from the mountain, Moses caught his people worshipping a golden calf,
and he shattered the sacred tablets in anger. Because the Israelites atoned for their idolatry, God forgave their sins and offered Moses a second set of tablets
and the Israelites a second chance.
Fasting and confession of sins is the mark of this holy time.
Jewish congregations spend the eve of Yom Kippur
and the entire day that follows in prayer and meditation.
The Kol Nidre is recited, which declares the importance
of giving and receiving forgiveness for past offences,
and thus this is a plea for God’s forgiveness,
on the part of those who sincerely repent,
and who show their repentance by improved behaviour
and performance of good deeds.
Charitable Giving is another important element of Yom Kippur.
Some people volunteer their time for charitable purposes
in the days leading up to Yom Kippur,
as a way to atone and seek God’s forgiveness.
One ancient custom known as kapparot
involves swinging a bag of coins (or a live chicken!) over one’s head
while reciting a prayer, after which the money / chicken is then given to the poor.
As Yom Kippur draws to a close, a single long blast is made on the shofar,
a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, sounded to mark the conclusion of the fast.
THE SCAPEGOAT – This doesn’t figure now in the rites of Yom Kippur,
but Jesus would have been acquainted with “Azazel” or “the scapegoat”.
It is mentioned in Leviticus 16 as part of God’s instructions to the Israelites
regarding the Day of Atonement. On this day, the high priest would first offer a sacrifice for his own sins and those of his household; then he would perform sacrifices for the nation.
“From the Israelite community [the high priest was instructed] to take two male goats for a sin offering ” (chapter 16 verse 5). The high priest brought the animals before the Lord and cast lots between the two goats – one was to be sacrificed and the other to be the scapegoat. The first goat was slaughtered for the sins of the people and its blood used to cleanse the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar (v. 20). The live goat, the “Scapegoat”, was brought to the high priest, who laid his hands on the scapegoat's head as an act of confession of all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites over the last year. The goat was then taken to a remote place in the wilderness, and as the goat died of hunger, symbolically the sins of the community died with the scapegoat.
For Christians, this Scapegoat is a foreshadowing of Christ,
but unlike Azazel He returns from the wilderness,
and is led through three years’ ministry
to be our atonement on the Altar of the Cross.
Whatever wilderness the Spirit has brought you to: walk in boldness, as a beloved child of God walk in peace, under the shelter of the Most High, walk in faith, knowing Christ walks with you. Amen.