Some years ago, I had an experience that was unexpected and rocked me to my core. It happened in a small art gallery in Basel, Switzerland. I’ve been to a lot of art galleries over the years, but I still remember where I saw this particular painting. I can visualize the room. I remember walking in and seeing a life-size canvas that brought me to tears. I’ve never before or since had a piece of artwork effect me with such a profound emotional response. What was it about this picture? Why did it make me cry? Why do I still remember it so vividly? What did that image teach me?
The painting, by Holbein, is a depiction of our Messiah as he lay in the tomb. You can find the image by doing a search on the computer, but it is a dim shadow and will not have the full impact of the original. Here is a link to see the painting:
When I walked into that tiny room, the picture was on my left. It took up the entire wall from one side to the other. It was life-sized – but in all the important ways it was not a picture of life at all. It was a picture of death.
Not an ‘ordinary’ death. It was my Savior. And, until that particular moment, I had never actually taken in the fact that He experienced death. He wasn’t sleeping. It wasn’t a drug-induced coma. He was dead. He was dead in my place. The fact of his resurrection did nothing to diminish the fact of this death. This picture brought that understanding into my heart.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM AN IMAGE?
This brings me to a recent controversy regarding an ‘image’ that was part of the A Rood Awakening Passover presentation in Charlotte. The picture of the roasted lamb created a Facebook fire-storm, and many people took it completely out of context. I was at the event, and I feel compelled to give my perspective.
Many have been shocked by the upright roasted lamb that was carried into the feast. It had a crown of thorns upon its head, and was wrapped in a red cord. It was macabre and beautiful at the same time. It was compelling and horrific. It was hard to see and yet hard to look away from. It was a picture of death. It was a picture of sacrifice. It was a picture of our Passover Lamb; an image of Yeshua.
First of all, to be absolutely clear: it was not a ‘sacrificial lamb!’ It was a teaching tool. It was an illustration of what shadow-pictures were embedded in the Passover sacrifices in historic context!
IT WAS PROFOUND AND IT WAS EFFECTIVE.
I make no apologies for Michael Rood, and if you seek one from this author you will look a long time. I make no apologies for him because he doesn’t require one! Michael is the reason that I am walking this walk of Torah-observance. I hold him in very high esteem, and I always will.
Anyone who knows Michael Rood understands that his mission is to awaken people to the truth of scripture and history. No one could doubt his love for our Creator and Yeshua our Messiah! I appreciate his no-nonsense, in-your-face, presentations. I, for one, am weary of the sanitized stories of the life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of my Messiah!
TRUTH OR FICTION?
Those of us who never met Yeshua in the flesh have to have faith that his death and resurrection actually happened. It requires faith because I was not there. None of us were! Yet, the life, ministry, death and resurrection of this man named Yeshua (Jesus) is the hope upon which we hang our expectation and understanding of what is in store for mankind, and ourselves! It isn’t just a platitude. It isn’t a nice idea to play in church. It either IS or IS NOT the Truth!
This truth has been rehearsed for centuries and the images of the Passover lamb has become imprinted upon our collective consciousness. Or, at least it was before we received the sanitized version of the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua HaMashiach!
No-one in the last 2000 years has been able to undermine the facts of his resurrection, or prove any claim it is a fairytale. Yet, almost from the beginning of the new covenant established in His blood, we have failed to connect Yeshua with Passover.
HOW DO WE PLACE YESHUA IN PASSOVER?
Are we numbed to the significance we see in the Passover? What does the Truth of Yeshua’s death and resurrection mean to all of us? How do we understand that event and what it meant? What did it mean to the Jews that witnessed the crucifixion?
Should everyone in Jerusalem for the Passover have been able to connect the dots? The appearance of the Passover lamb was a familiar image that could have been recognized when Yeshua was crucified!
Why wasn’t the familiar appearance of the sacrificed and roasted lambs recognized as a foreshadow of Yeshua upon his execution stake? I wonder if any were awakened by the visual evidence that they had seen for years embodied in the sacrificial lamb? How many that had been asleep during his ministry were awakened by the sight of Yeshua on the cross as he spoke the words of Psalm 22?
We are quick to embrace the shadow-pictures in the Feasts, but why are we slow to believe an actual thing could give us a visual image that was provided so we could connect the dots? What shadow-pictures embedded in the Passover events were apparent when they took place?
ROOD EXPLAINS THE PASSOVER
There are many ways to follow the story of the Passover and how it was fulfilled to the very day, hour and manner that it had been rehearsed for centuries. Rood explains them all, and instead of taking it in and contemplating the marvelous truth before us, many are hung up on a lamb on a spit.
Historic records describe the upright position of the roasted Passover lamb, and formed the basis for how the presentation was made at the Rood Passover event. Again, it was NOT a sacrifice. It was an illustration used to help tell the story.
According to historic records, the entrails of the animal were wound around the head of the lamb before it was roasted. Rood used a crown of thorns to further help connect the dots, since actually cooking the entrails would have been even more controversial! The lamb with the ‘crown’ on its head and a ribbon of red was there to help in our understanding. The lamb is visual aid that is unmistakable, and one that was similar to what was seen throughout Judea every Passover.
This isn’t the only time a visual aid has been given to us by the Father and the Patriarchs. It isn’t all that much different than the brazen serpent that Moses held up in the wilderness! The shadows of what was to occur at the crucifixion were being manifested in real images all along! We look upon sin (serpent) and death (the lamb) and it is not a pretty sight. But, when we see it, we are saved!
WHAT DO WE DO WITH THAT IMAGERY? WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM IT?
We in America are so divorced from reality that we never even think about the tidy slices of meat we pick up at the supermarket for dinner. We don’t equate dinner with death, but it most certainly is the result of death to an animal for our meal. Unless you are a vegetarian, a meal is the result of death.
Likewise we don’t think about death in connection with the crucifixion either!
We pick up our portion of salvation and never contemplate how the death penalty was paid in full by our Savior. We skip right over how it was accomplished! We don’t focus on His death because we know the rest of the story!
DON’T SKIP AHEAD!
As a theatre director, one of the things that new actors have the most trouble internalizing is not to play the end from the beginning. In other words, when we tell a story we should be ‘in the moment.’ A tragic story isn’t tragic from the beginning…or at least it shouldn’t be! I have heard it described as, ‘you can’t make someone cry if you don’t first make them laugh.’ The counter to that is also true. A happy ending is usually preceded by a sad or trying tale. It has no significance or dramatic effect otherwise.
I don’t wish to get into a theatrical treatise here, but the point I am making is we cannot continue to look at the events in Yeshua’s life, death and resurrection based on the fact that He is Alive! We must see the entire story so that the happy ending carries all the weight that it should!
HE IS RISEN!
These are wonderful words, to be sure! But, if we look at the events of his life, ministry and tortured death on our behalf by reading only the end-of-the-story, we miss so much! Can we truly grasp the fact that He did die? And if we fail to understand that he experienced death (OUR Death) how do we rejoice that He has saved us from the same fate?
That is what the Holbein picture did for me. It brought home that it wasn’t a theatrical event. It wasn’t a story told so often that it has lost its impact. It isn’t an event that has no significance because we know that he triumphed over death in the end. Only by understanding his death can we rejoice!
Not only did he die, it was a horrible, agonizing and humiliating death! That the crucifixion was fulfillment of prophecy should not blind us to an understanding of the event itself. Because he arose from death to life eternal does not alter the brutal facts of how he died. That He did all this for us, taking our deserved punishment upon himself, is beyond my ability to fully grasp!
Until we actually see and feel the enormity of Yeshua’s death on a cross, we will never truly understand how appropriate it is to rejoice in His resurrection! It has to get into our consciousness, and sometimes an image can do what words alone cannot.
That is what Michael Rood was trying to illustrate for us! The shadow-pictures of the Messiah that are embedded in the Passover observances are profound! The 2,000 years of rehearsals to commemorate the Passover event of Exodus 12 are there to teach us. To remind us! And every detail of his crucifixion was fore-told and illustrated repeatedly for centuries before His death!
BUT, IT OFFENDED ME!
If you are offended by the image of how a Passover lamb was typically roasted and prepared, how much more should you be offended by the event that it foretells? I don’t believe we should be comfortable in the fact of His death on a cross!
Our Father has given us so many ways to understand an event. He gave the Passover remembrance to the Israelites as a memorial to the events that allowed their exodus from slavery in Egypt. He gave the Passover remembrance to all of us so that we can see His Hand in the events of Yeshua’s Crucifixion.
We must learn to make connections! John the Immerser (John the Baptist) said that Yeshua was the ‘lamb of God.’ Was he confused? Was it a figure of speech? What are we supposed to do with that?
The lambs that were sacrificed, before the plague of death killed all of the first-born in the land of Egypt, were slain for the protection and redemption of the obedient Israelites! They smeared the blood of those lambs upon their doorposts so that the angel of death would pass-over their homes. They were protected and saved by the blood of the lamb.
DO YOU SEE THE PICTURE?
He has redeemed us twice! He rescued us from slavery (slaves to sin) in Egypt by the blood of the lamb, and He has rescued us from the death penalty for sin by the Blood of the Lamb. And each of these events was pictured from the very beginning when Adam and Eve were covered by the shed blood of the first animal (I believe it was a lamb) that was sacrificed to cover their nakedness.
There are so many things to learn from these events and from the event it foretold! Consider them! ‘We are covered by the blood of the lamb.’ ‘Place blood on the doorposts of your sanctuary.’ ‘Yeshua is the Lamb of YHVH that takes away the sins of the world.’ ‘The life is in the blood.’
I used to angst over the notion that Yeshua (I called him Jesus then) had to die for my sins. Why is blood used? Why is all this death and torture necessary? “He’s GOD!” I used to say. Isn’t there another way? Why doesn’t He just forgive us and not have to sacrifice His Son?
Then, one day, I understood that nothing less than an event of Life and Death would suffice. His sacrifice for us was not cheap. It was not a ‘wave-my-magic-wand’ and all is forgiven! It was profound. It was painful. It was done because He loves me! It was done because nothing else could explain the height, width and depth of His love for us!
HE WAS WILLING TO DIE FOR US! FOR ME!
Once we grasp that, once we see the significance and finality of that death on our behalf – only then can we truly understand. He was broken for our sins. He died in our place. We have all heard these words so many times, but can you draw it into your heart and soul? What image would get your attention and make you see that he died for you?
Would a picture by Holbein make you realize the price that was paid? Would a roasted lamb?
1Co 6:19-20 You know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God, don’t you? You do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought for a price…
1Co 7:23 You were bought with a price, do not become slaves of men.
1Pe 1:16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.