“What do hot cross buns have to do with the coronavirus?“. This strange question juxtaposed my peaceful transition from sleep to waking this Friday morning.
It was not an audible voice but a thought. I wondered if something was running interference with my spiritual ears, but I had not heard the term “hot cross buns” in several years. So, instead of discarding what I heard, my curiosity was piqued.
Coronavirus discussions have been saturating the airwaves and the internet for the last few weeks. Arguably, the rate of sharing of information is exceeding the spread of the contagion itself! As I pondered the meaning of hot cross buns, this melodious nursery rhyme emerged from the recesses of my memory:
Dark Speech and Riddles
People sometimes “hear” a sentence, riddle, or “dark” speech or saying during the transition period between sleep and wakefulness. (Dark, in this context, means hidden). Unfortunately, we often discard these important messages as “background noise” from a movie or lyrics from a song recently heard. The hearer may not consider that the source may be God.
God speaks in parables or parabolic language – sometimes audibly through an external voice, inaudibly through our internal thoughts. More often, He speaks through dreams and visions and supernatural encounters (Numbers 12: 4-8). To solve a divine riddle, the hearer must be attentive to Revelation given by the Holy Spirit. Additionally, it helps to have a healthy dose of curiosity.
Why Hot Cross Buns?
According to Wikipedia and other sources, hot cross buns are common in several Commonwealth nations and the United States (Jamaicans savor spicy buns eaten with cheese for Easter). They are yeasted spiced buns brandishing a white cross on top, and raisins and currants inside, usually eaten to celebrate the end of Lent (Good Friday) since leaven, in the Bible, is symbolic of sin. The white cross represents the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (the Lamb of God), and the spices represent His embalming after His death. In parabolic language, bread (and buns) symbolizes the Word of God, who came from Heaven to redeem men. Jesus stated, “I am the bread of life” John 6:35).
Prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 explains to us the significance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Surely He has borne our griefs [sicknesses, infirmities]
And carried our sorrows [pains];
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. (vs. 4-5, NKJV, [added for clarification])
The riddle of hot cross buns reveals that God wants us to pray confidently for the healing of all nations from the Coronavirus pandemic. Furthermore, He wants us to know our healing is His will. And, since these buns are common to the end of Lent, the riddle may also offer a clue as to when we will begin to see the turnaround from this pandemic.
One a penny, two a penny
There may not be much value attached to a penny (except for add-on items) at today’s inflation rates, but during an earlier period, even 1/4 penny coins (farthings) had worth. Likewise our salvation, protection, healing, and divine wisdom which appear to be “freely” given to us by God’s Grace (meaning, cannot be bought with money or good works) are actually quite costly. The Lord paid not with silver or gold, but with His life, body and blood, and with great suffering for the sins of everyone in the world (1 Peter 1:18-19, Isaiah 53: 10-12). And, unlike money, these gifts never devalue over time!
Give them to your daughters, give them to your sons
Hot Cross Buns and The Passover
As I write this, many of us are voluntarily (or involuntarily) self-quarantined at home or in a facility or following specific protocols as we wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to pass. The “guidelines to slow the spread of the virus” released by President Trump bear a subtle similarity to that dark night the plague of death-of-the-firstborn passed through ancient Egypt. To be spared from that tragedy, it was important for the children of Israel to heed all of Moses’ instructions: put the blood of the lamb on the lintel of the doorposts, stay at home, and carefully prepare the evening meal according to specification, with unleavened bread. These Passover symbols pointed to Jesus, the coming Lamb and Messiah. As Israel was obedient, the plague of death passed over them. Another interesting fact is that they left Egypt with great wealth!
In these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son, Lord Jesus (Hebrews 1:2). Whether He speaks through His Written Word or uses parables or unusual symbols like Easter buns, He will always provide instructions to help us to overcome whatever challenges befall us. Let us look to the cross and cast our eyes on Lord Jesus. Then, figuratively, apply the Blood of His Eternal Sacrifice to the doors of our homes and lives. As we embrace His precious promises, we can be assured that no plague will come near our dwelling (Psalm 91:10). This coronavirus will quickly “pass over.”