The commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus is 2 days away. Shops are full of Easter eggs and Easter bunnies and fancy chocolates. People are getting excited about having a long weekend. A lot of people won’t be working for 4 consecutive days and they’ll have the opportunity to visit friends and relatives, or go to the beach before winter starts.
The Jews have the tradition of the Seder plate on Passover. It consists of Z’roa which is a lamb shank which represents a symbolic offering to the temple. Beitzah, which is an egg and a symbol of rebirth. The third is Maror or bitter herbs such as horseradish to signify the bitterness of enslavement. Karpas is a non-bitter vegetable like parsley and it is dipped into salted water to symbolize tears. The fifth item on the plate is called Haroset. A mixture ofapple, nuts and wine that represents the mortar and bricks used by the enslaved Jews. The last is an optional addition and is another bitter herb such as romaine lettuce. Four glasses of red wine are also required at the Passover Seder, each representing one of the four promises made by God. The only grain which is allowed is the Matzo, a flat wheat bread which is watched from grinding to finished product to make sure no fermentation takes place. Any other grains which can ferment, wheat as well as oats, barley, rye and spelt are not allowed and are called hametz. During the flight from Egypt the Jews took along unleavened bread. During the Passover it is eaten as a flat cracker-like bread of used in dishes as breadcrumbs and in the traditional matzo-ball soup.
Apparently pickled fish on Good Friday is a uniquely South African tradition with a history that’s as mysterious as the sea itself. One thing everyone agrees on is that this food tradition hails from the Western Cape. Some say it came about because fishing boats didn’t go out over the Easter weekend, making the pickling of fish a necessity in the days before fridges and freezers. Having lamb as part of the meal comes from the Israelites in Egypt who had to slaughter a lamb and mark their doors with the blood to cause the Angel of Death to pass over their houses. The lamb was roasted and eaten by the family. I am not going to get into an explanation or an argument about hot cross buns. They are a little controversial, just like the celebration of Easter itself.
Ephesians 3:22-25, “But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Sometimes we have to be reminded that for us as Christians, traditions of eating certain foods and doing certain rituals, are just that, traditions. If they bear significance to us that’s great. Maybe they remind us of an age gone by when our grandmothers used to serve a particular dish on a certain occasion. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the tradition, but we have to remember that there is no spiritual significance to it. When I say spiritual significance, I mean that it doesn’t influence our salvation or our relationship with Jesus. 1 Corinthians 10:23 and 31, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Paul is explaining that there are certain things that may give offense to other people and in that case it is better not to do those things. Just note that he says these things give offence to people, not to God. With whatever we do we should take into consideration Ephesians 10:24, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.”
Whether we choose to eat pickled fish and hot cross buns on Good Friday, or if we choose to celebrate the Passover instead, really makes no difference to our salvation as long as we don’t do it as an act of trying to win God’s favor.