Pause for Thought – a five minute read – 22

Luke 22 v 14 – 20

I have to admit that I do enjoy a good meal in a restaurant, it’s a passion that seems to run in the family and I certainly share with my grandchildren, although I must say that they are also very adept in the kitchen. I have enjoyed many cakes, buns, biscuits and puddings during this present lock down, all produced by my grandchildren.

It’s not just evening meals that please me, I also meet with a group of aficionados on a Friday morning to assess breakfast establishments in the local area, it’s a hard job but someone has to do it.

One observation that has surfaced recently is how difficult it is getting to order your meal in certain restaurants. I recently visited my favourite restaurant (before Coronavirus), when a family on an adjacent table were preparing to order. The young son had volunteered, or had been appointed I’m not sure which, to venture to the bar and place the order for the family’s meals. He soon returned and asked what the table number was. He was told number 12 and then returned to the bar. Soon he was back again asking, do we want chips or potatoes? , He was told that chips would be fine and he returned to the bar. Soon he returned again asking, do we want vegetables or salad? He was told salad and he returned yet again to the bar. Soon he returned yet again and asked, do we want rice or chips with the curry? His dad replied both were required at which point the lad looked confused so his mum, (O great wise one) offered to go back to the bar with him and sort it out.

They did get their meals and I assume that all their individual choices were fulfilled. I did worry however what would happen if they all required a coffee. Would it be black, white, late’, skinny late’, cappuccino, one shot, two shots or whatever, and who would go to the bar with that order?

A further complication arises when interpreting the menu, particularly when it is in a foreign language, e.g. French, Italian, Indian or Chinese. I have studied many a menu attempting to establish just what the dish actually is. One that sounds to be particularly appetising on the menu manifests itself into sausage and mash with baked beans when it arrives at the table, not that I’ve got anything against sausage mash and baked beans, but not for a special occasion.

Even self- service buffets can be difficult. I recall one occasion in a hotel in Tenerife when I selected French fried onions only to find they were octopus, or rubber bands I couldn’t tell the difference.

The Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples would have been a totally different situation and would not have resembled the meals in the restaurants I prefer to visit.

The Passover Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of the Passover. It is not just a meal, but is an act of remembrance of the story of and the suffering involved in the Exodus of the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Each part of the meal represents a part of the Exodus story and the experiences of the people involved. It was and is an important part of Jewish belief and culture, and there would have been specific symbolic foods and order of eating them.

  1. Moror ; – a bitter herb that represents slavery in Egypt and the tears shed by the people.
  2. Z’roo ; – Roast lamb shank bone representing the sacrificial lamb.
  3. Charoset ;- Apples, walnuts and wine which represents the mortar and bricks that were made in Egypt by the slaves.
  4. Chazeret ; – Another bitter herb or sometimes romaine lettuce  represents the hard and soft life in slavery
  5. Karpas ; – Parsley representing spring and new beginnings through the Exodus
  6. Beitzah ; – Roasted hard boiled eggs to represent offerings and possibly the circle of life.

The constituents of the meal can vary but the context of the meal would stay the same, to remember what God had done to save his chosen race. It’s theologically befitting that Jesus who came to save all people should share his last meal which remembers God saving his chosen people, also the parity of the sacrificial lamb and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  

Jesus would have followed a strict procedure of preparation and eating the meal including specific drinks between courses all of which had symbolic meanings.

His Passover meal was eaten in the knowledge that he would be betrayed by one of those present around the table, one who as sharing the meal with him.

He also knew that it would be his last Passover meal.

Some years ago I went on holiday to a rather nice hotel on the island of Rhodes; it was one of the holidays when I went on my own. The fact that I was a lone diner seemed to confuse the waiter and he had a problem in finding a table for one. Eventually I was seated on the dining room balcony overlooking the sea, it was idyllic, but hardly a table for one. Above my head was a nesting place for a family of Rhodes Sparrows who insisted on sharing my meal with me.

The waiter did offer me an alternative but I declined his offer, – I never did like dining alone.  

Derek T.