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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - A Rabbi Looks at Easter

Jonathan Bernis - A Rabbi Looks at Easter

Jonathan Bernis - A Rabbi Looks at Easter
TOPICS: Easter, Crucifixion, Passover

Jonathan Bernis: Did you know that every detail of the trial, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus was actually fulfillment of Bible prophecy that was written hundreds of years before it ever happened? Well, today we want to explore the Jewish context of Easter week to help you have a more meaningful Easter than ever before. Ezra, this is such an important week, and the sad thing is, and we see this year after year, for most Christians it's completely divorced from the context.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. Some people celebrate lent, you know, this season of kind of fasting and repentance leading up to Easter week, and we're celebrating, you know, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and we're acknowledging Jesus' crucifixion, and we're reading the gospel accounts of what's called the passion of the Christ, the suffering and the death of the Messiah, of Jesus, but it's completely divorced from the Jewish context in which it occurred. And because of that, you can miss so much, and we want to really dig in today, Jonathan, to the Jewish context of what was happening on those few days, on that, you could say first Easter morning.

Jonathan Bernis: We want to enhance this week for you. This is a big week, and the resurrection of the Messiah, the resurrection of Jesus, is the cornerstone of our faith. Paul makes that very clear. This is the cornerstone of our faith. If he wasn't resurrected from the dead, our faith is in vain. The good news is he did resurrect from the dead and the tomb is empty! Hallelujah!

Ezra Benjamin: Hallelujah! Well, Jonathan, maybe let's back up a bit even farther than we said, to the night on which Jesus is betrayed. He's hosting what, you know, Leonardo Da Vinci painted, Michelangelo, this Last Supper, right? And we have this image in our mind that all of a sudden, with no context, there's 12 disciples eating bread and wine.

Jonathan Bernis: You know, they're all on one side of the table. Do you know why?

Ezra Benjamin: Why?

Jonathan Bernis: For the painter! For the photographer.

Ezra Benjamin: For the photo-op.

Jonathan Bernis: No, no, no, it wasn't that way at all.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and so, what is the context of what's happening here? Was it just that Jesus decided to share a meal with his disciples before he knows he's gonna be betrayed, or is there something else going on?

Jonathan Bernis: No, this is not a final... this is not a final snack before the passion. This is a fulfillment, a direct fulfillment, I mean in detail, of the commandment to gather together as a family at Passover, and to reenact an event that led to the children of Israel being delivered out of Egypt.

Ezra Benjamin: Interesting.

Jonathan Bernis: It's very specific, and it goes back to Exodus 12, in detail. And by the way, you have the gospel in Exodus 12 and there's a few elements, and we'll look at them in Exodus 12. One, everyone needed a lamb. Okay? Everyone was to go inside of their dwelling and they were to eat three things: the lamb, matzah, or unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Those were the three things that were commanded. That's exactly what happens in the last supper. It was a Passover meal in detail. Now, one thing that was added, of course, is wine. We drink four cups of wine and we'll remember each element of the Exodus, being redeemed, being delivered, praise, and then, of course, the final cup, which Jesus didn't drink.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: He said that, "This one, I'm not going to drink. You'll drink it with me in the kingdom".

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. So, he left this Passover Seder, this celebration of Passover, unfinished.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and we want to move on because we've talked about Passover before. But in detail, the third cup of wine is the cup of redemption. That's the cup that he raised before his disciples and said, "This is now my blood, which is shed for you". Why? For the redemption of sin. It was for the redemption out of Egypt, now it's for the redemption of sin. When he dips his matzah, I believe it was matzah, in the bowl and he said, "The one who dips with me will betray me," he's following the Passover commandment to dip.

Ezra Benjamin: Into bitter herbs.

Jonathan Bernis: Wow!

Ezra Benjamin: Well, when you understand this is a Passover Seder and it's bitter herbs, then you can put the context to, "The one who dips with me is my betrayer". The bitter herbs.

Jonathan Bernis: Wow, amazing!

Ezra Benjamin: It is.

Jonathan Bernis: So, fast forwarding a few hours here, we know Jesus finishes the last supper, this Passover Seder, and he goes into the garden. And he's eventually arrested and brought to trial before the Roman authorities.

Ezra Benjamin: By the way, they couldn't stay up with him an hour to pray. Why? I'm gonna get in trouble for this, but I'm gonna say it anyway, three cups of wine. Three cups of wine...

Jonathan Bernis: And they fell asleep.

Ezra Benjamin: After a Passover Seder, when I was a teenager, yeah. It just... I'll throw it out there. We might have to edit this out. The editors can decide. If it's in, I'll probably get some mail, "It was grape juice, it wasn't fermented"! It was fermented.

Jonathan Bernis: It was wine.

Ezra Benjamin: They finished a Passover Seder. I couldn't stay awake after a Passover Seder.

Jonathan Bernis: Anyway, I'll just throw that in for context. And of course, by the way, just to go back to this, the bread wasn't white bread, it wasn't Italian bread, it was matzah. "This is my body, which is broken for you". There was no leaven.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Leaven is symbolic of sin.

Ezra Benjamin: Because the children of Israel were commanded to bake bread without leaven.

Jonathan Bernis: Right, but it's the fact that the matzah had no leaven that now represents the body of Messiah, broken for us.

Ezra Benjamin: And Paul talks about that. The unleavened bread of redemption from sin.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, and that's all-important. You miss all of that without the context of Passover.

Ezra Benjamin: Wow, so important.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah.

Ezra Benjamin: So, fast-forwarding ahead, Jonathan, this arrest happens, and I'm thinking of language in Isaiah 53. You know, Jesus is offered the opportunity to defend himself, to get out of the situation, to get out of this political arrest, and yet, he doesn't. All he says is, when Pilate says, "Are you the king of the Jews? Are you the Messiah"? He says, "It is as you say," but he doesn't defend himself.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. Now, Paul makes it clear that all of this is in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. What prophecy? It's the prophecy of the Old Testament.

Ezra Benjamin: And so, Jonathan, this wasn't just Jesus, you know, we can say pleading the fifth, to use a, you know, an expression, or just being belligerent with Pilate when he doesn't answer, when he doesn't defend himself. It actually had to be this way, according to Isaiah 53.

Jonathan Bernis: This is not about... You know, I hear this argument all the time, "The Jews killed Jesus". That's one of the reasons that there's been such conflict between Christians and Jews. "The Jews killed Jesus". That's the accusation that led to replacement theology and anti-semitism. And then, we Jews say, "No, no, no, the Romans did".

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Well, neither are accurate. He laid down his life for us. Here's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, and this, I think, lays it all out, at least for me. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul's making the point that the resurrection is the Cornerstone of our faith, but look how he begins it in verse 1. "Now I make known to you, brothers and sisters, the good news which I proclaim to you. You also received it and you took your stand on it, and by it you are being saved as you hold firm to the word I proclaimed to you, and lest you believe without proper consideration. For I also passed on to you first of all what I received," now listen to this, and I love this, you're being saved as you take the stand. Look what it says in verse 3. "That Messiah died for our sins according to scripture, that he was buried, that he was raised the third day, according to scripture". And then on, that he appeared to Peter, Cephas, and then to the twelve. All of this is according to scripture.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly.

Jonathan Bernis: What is Paul saying? He's saying all of this was prophesied, all of this was laid out. It's all connected to the work of atonement that the Messiah will bring to his people and ultimately to the world. And it's being lived out through Yeshua, who does not defend himself, but is led, according to Isaiah 53, as a lamb to the slaughter, to lay down his life. Ezra, it's the Exodus 12 imagery. Choose a lamb without blemish, without spot. It's talking about sin. It's a prophetic picture of sin, a type, a picture, a foreshadow with sinless. And, sacrifice that lamb in the prime of life, so that the blood can be applied to the doorposts of your dwellings.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: It's the blood now of Yeshua being shed for us to cover us from the penalty of death. The angel of death now, in effect, is passing over us.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, so important to understand. So, it's the fulfillment of Exodus. It's the fulfillment of the prophets. And it's so interesting like you said, Jonathan, that Paul is saying to a predominately gentile audience, right? The church in Corinth, most of these people were not Jewish believers. They were people from the nations, from the area in Corinth who had come to faith in Jesus, but Paul makes a point of saying he died, according to the scriptures. He was buried: he was raised, according to the scriptures. Because he's telling this non-Jewish audience, you have to understand the Jewish context of the good news of the gospel.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, it's not about blaming anyone. It's a decision. Yeshua could have waved on angels, and he could have decided, "I'm not gonna do what was laid out for me. It's too heavy". But, he fulfills the scripture and Paul wants to make that clear to believers, Jew and gentile alike, this was prophesied and it came to pass. We have so much more to talk about, but we have to take a short break so that our announcer can share some information about the resources that we want to make available to you today. Please consider becoming a shalom partner with Jewish Voice. Your monthly support will make a huge difference in so many lives. Don't go away. We'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: Before we continue, let me just say thank you to all of you who are supporting Jewish Voice. We could not do the work we do without you. We couldn't provide eye surgeries in the middle of nowhere. So, thanks again for your support, and especially for joining us as a shalom monthly partner. Ezra, the resurrection, the crucifixion, the resurrection, it's all prophesied, beginning with the Passover Seder meal.

Ezra Benjamin: It is.

Jonathan Bernis: That Yeshua celebrated with his disciples. That 24 hours is fulfilled in detail, and all of these prophecies are right there in print from the Old Testament.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, none of this is an accident. When you're hearing the recitation, and you probably will this week, next week. When you're hearing the Easter story from the gospels, just understand, every single word, every single verse is a fulfillment of what the prophets foretold about who the Messiah would be, how he would die, and how he would not remain dead.

Jonathan Bernis: I've got to recap this, Ezra. It's so important, because this is the... Read 1 Corinthians 15. This is about the resurrection, but here is what Paul says to his gentile brothers and sisters in Corinth. 1 Corinthians 15:3, "For I also passed on to you first of all what I also received, that Messiah died for our sins, according to the scriptures: that he was buried, that he was raised the third day, according to the scriptures".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: Jesus wasn't killed by the Jewish people. That accusation is a lie. The Jews did not kill Jesus. I say this over and over again, because it's true and it needs to be said, the Jews did not kill Jesus. The Jews defend themselves, "The Romans killed him". The Romans didn't kill Jesus. He laid down his life for us to fulfill the scriptures. He was the Lamb of God that came to take away the sins of the world.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely. He had to die. Jesus had to die, according to the scriptures, because it was the only way for you and I to go free from sin. And it's a dangerous thing, Jonathan, to sort of believe that theology, hook, line, and sinker, well, the Jews killed Jesus and somehow it was this big mistake and failure that he died. That's an open door to anti-semitic behavior around the world. And people will say the Jews are Christ-killers, and somehow this makes room to attack and persecute Jewish communities. It's nonsense.

Jonathan Bernis: Another way to put it is that we all killed him.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: All of us. All of us that have placed our faith in him have received his atonement as the Lamb of God. So, he died for all of us. So, in one sense, we all killed him. All of us corporately throughout history killed him, but in effect, he voluntarily gave his life. He laid down his life for his friends. "What greater love has any man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends," and we are his friends.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen.

Jonathan Bernis: I'm getting goose bumps.

Ezra Benjamin: Yeah, so powerful. Now, Jonathan, we should take a couple of minutes here and talk about what's really the darkest moment in world history. It's a difficult thing to talk about, but the actual crucifixion of Jesus, the hanging, the execution of Jesus on a Roman cross. Why did it happen the way it did, and how is that also a fulfillment of scriptures? And you know, one of the verses I'm thinking of, it's a bit obscure. Maybe we read right over it, but Moses is talking to the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 21 and he's saying, "This is how you handle the dead. Don't leave them overnight". And then it says in verse 23, "Cursed is anyone who was hung on a tree," and it's a foreshadowing.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, I think the greatest torment was not the actual pain of crucifixion, although that's unimaginable, but many were crucified. It's that he became sin for us. "He who was without sin," and I love to take my Bible when I do this. "He who was without sin became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him".

Ezra Benjamin: That's right.

Jonathan Bernis: He bore our sins. He became cursed for us, and you know, that was the greatest... That moment where he bore our sins, I think was the greatest act of sacrifice, the greatest torment, and in one sense, the darkest hour.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: But, the brightest also.

Ezra Benjamin: Exactly. And you know, Jesus, to be... it's a little blunt. Jesus could have been executed. He could have died for our sins in any way. It could have been quick. It could have been an instantaneous death, but it wasn't. It was a prolonged, embarrassing, shameful death, naked, hanging in front of an audience, suffering. But Isaiah saw that, didn't he, in Isaiah 53? It says, "He was bruised for our transgressions. He was striped. He was pierced for our inequities". And we see, Jesus was pierced. He was bruised. He was whipped. It wasn't by accident. It wasn't just for the Romans to be mean. It was the way that it had to be, because he bore our shame in addition to our sin.

Jonathan Bernis: Exactly right, and "By those wounds, we are healed". So, not only do we have the atonement for sin, but he suffers the pain of torment, sheds his blood, and in the atonement is everything. There's healing in the atonement, there's deliverance. There is wholeness in the atonement. There's the wiping out of the old life and a new life. All is found in the atonement.

Ezra Benjamin: Amen. So important. And then, we know that it says Jesus was taken down off the cross. He dies maybe quicker than a normal crucifixion death would have happened, and he was quickly buried. He was laid in that tomb and it says because it was the preparation day. Now, what's the preparation day? What's the context there?

Jonathan Bernis: Well, let me point out a few things, because I want everyone to understand when it says, "According to scripture," just in what kind of detail. We're told that he's going to die between two thieves.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: That's all laid out for us, that he'd be buried in the tomb of a rich man, that not a bone of the Passover lamb was to be broken, Exodus 12:46. That's why when they came to him, they saw that he was dead and they didn't break his legs which was typical of crucifixion. Those things are details of how scripture is fulfilled, as Paul says, "According to scripture". No bone can be broken, 'cause he's the Passover lamb. He's buried between two thieves. They deserve punishment. He doesn't. He's buried in the tomb of a rich man. It's all laid out for us, and he is removed from the cross before shabbat. Now, the lamb can't remain until morning. No one can be left overnight. So, all of this is a direct fulfillment of both Jewish law and Bible prophecy.

Ezra Benjamin: Not remaining there till morning, none of his bones being broken. Jonathan, you're not just rehearsing verses from the gospel account, you're rehearsing Old Testament prophecies.

Jonathan Bernis: Absolutely, from the Torah through the prophets. When Paul says, "According to scripture," we've got to gain a greater appreciation about how many specific prophecies there are that the prophets foresaw, that the Torah foretold. Jesus is fulfilling every one. That's why he is the Messiah. Yes, we have had an experience where eyes have been opened, but it's confirmed through prophecy after prophecy and detail being fulfilled, especially the story of Passover. It's absolutely amazing. Hey, Ezra, continue on with preparation, because this week is so monumental, and it all ties back to prophecy, to the Jewish laws and customs. Talk about the preparation.

Ezra Benjamin: Right. Well, this phrase, "Preparation day," Jonathan, we understand in the Jewish context that it was the day when families, when the priests, when the community of Israel at large was actually preparing for that night, which would be the Passover. And so, you know, there's a lot of debate. Was it actually Good Friday or was it good Thursday? Not the point. The point is we know from the scriptures that it was the eve of Passover, and what's so important for us to understand, what's important for you to grasp at home, is that in the afternoon when Jesus is giving up his life, it says he gave up his spirit when he's dying on that Roman cross. At this time, throughout the land of Israel, people are slaughtering their lambs and preparing the Passover sacrifice. So, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lambs across Israel are being killed on the afternoon of the day of preparation, and at the same time, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is laying down his own life.

Jonathan Bernis: That's such an important point. I'm absolutely certain that they celebrated the Passover Seder early, so that he could die at the same moment when the lambs were being killed in preparation. I'm absolutely certain of that. You may disagree. I'm absolutely certain. Why? Because the Passover story, Passover Exodus, is a foreshadow of the redemption that Messiah would bring. Do you remember in John 1 where John the Baptist is pointing across the Jordan, and he's saying, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world"? No context for that until we understand John was the child of a priest who observed Passover growing up, and he understood who Yeshua was.

Ezra Benjamin: It was prophetic insight into how... Not only how Jesus would live, but how he would have to die. John saw it.

Jonathan Bernis: That is, he was the Passover lamb that was shed for us. And what's interesting about the Passover is that there's no distinction made between Jews and Egyptians, I should say Hebrews and Egyptians at that time, nor between those who were good or not good. It was just the blood. If you had the blood and you applied the blood and went into your home, you were spared.

Ezra Benjamin: Right, and you know, Paul says in Romans there's no difference between Jew and gentile in the sense that all are under sin. All needed the blood. All of us need the blood of the Passover lamb to cover sin.

Jonathan Bernis: I want to throw in one last thing. The resurrection is in the Old Testament, too. It's all prophesied. Hey, we have to take a short break as our announcer comes to tell us about resources that we want to sow into your life this week. We also want to come in agreement with you in prayer when we return, because God is a God who hears and answers prayer. So, don't go away, we'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra and I are gonna join with you in prayer, because we believe God is a God who answers prayer. So, let's just agree together. Trust the Lord today. You may even feel hopeless, but you haven't tuned in by accident. You're watching because God cares and he wants you to know that.

So, in the name of Yeshua, in Jesus' name, we take authority over sickness, and we speak wholeness, we speak life, we speak resurrection power into your life, and we say restoration, we say wholeness, we speak divine provision. He who rose from the dead will raise you up and bring you wholeness, health, and provision. In Jesus' name, in Yeshua's name, amen.

If you'd like more information about our ministry, we'd love to hear from you. It's very easy. You can log on to our website, it's In addition, you can send us your prayer requests. We want to hear from you and I want you to know that we will pray for your needs. I also want to thank you for your support of Jewish Voice, and as we close the program today, we want to remind you to, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper who love thee". On behalf of Ezra Benjamin and myself, this is Jonathan Bernis saying, he has risen from the dead! God bless you.
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