LIHUE — When celebrating Easter, Christians should understand its history and connection to the Jewish faith, said Bruce Baumgartner, pastor of Calvary Chapel Lihue.
“This being Passover season, we understand there’s a lot of questions about what is Passover and the New Testament because Jesus celebrated the Passover,” Baumgartner said.
Robert Wertheim, director of the San Francisco Branch of Jews for Jesus, presented “Christ in the Passover,” which re-created the traditional Passover service on Monday at Calvary Chapel Lihue.
Jews for Jesus is focused on sharing the belief that Jesus is the promised Messiah.
“Perhaps you’re wondering, what does Jesus have to do with the Passover? Passover is Jewish. Well, so was Jesus,” Wertheim said.
Frank Giardino, member of Calvary Chapel Lihue, was one of about 70 people who attended the presentation.
“It’s exciting because the whole Gospel is based on Jesus Christ — that’s our experience,” he said.
Wertheim went through the motions of a traditional Seder meal, which kicks off the holiday.
“Seder is the Hebrew word for ‘order.’ The Passover celebration follows a specific order of service,” Wertheim said. “Passover isn’t just a meal, but a banquet. It’s not just service, but a ceremony.”
The message of Passover is the promise of redemption, and that is in keeping with the Christian tenants that Jesus is the way to salvation, he added.
The blood of a lamb is a theme in both faiths, Wertheim added.
“Passover not just imparts God’s message of redemption, it imparts God’s means of redemption, through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb,” he said.
According to Exodus, while in Egypt, enslaved Israelites were instructed to roast a lamb without, breaking its bones, and put its blood on their doorposts. In doing so, they were spared by a plague that killed the firstborn son of the house, Wertheim said.
“We were spared the ravages of the 10th plague that went over Egypt,” he said. “For when the Angel of Death saw the blood of the lamb on our doors, death was forced to pass over. That’s where we get the name ‘Passover.’”
The Passover lamb is indicative of another Passover lamb who was sacrificed for the sake of redemption — Jesus — Wertheim said.
“Just as none of the bones of the Passover lamb were broken, so none of Jesus’ bones were broken in his death,” Wertheim said. “And just as our ancestors had to apply in faith the blood of the lamb to their doorposts, so each one of us must apply the blood of the Messiah to the doors of our hearts.”
Marty Davis, another parishioner of Calvary Chapel Lihue, attended Monday’s presentation to learn about another faith.
“It’s neat to see the Jewish perspective of Resurrection day,” he said.
For Baumgartner, the presentation is a reminder that Christianity isn’t re-inventing the wheel.
“Even when Jesus walked the Earth, it was a new invention to have faith in God,” he said.
Wertheim, whose parents are Holocaust survivors, has been a member of Jews for Jesus for 29 years. He said the most rewarding part of his work is helping people understand God wants an intimate relationship with them.
“It’s not about religion,” he said.