Two years ago I wrote about the Southern Chinese New Year tradition, “Lo Hei!” As we went through those reflections again with friends this year, further thoughts came out.

The tradition is also called “Yusheng” (魚生) meaning “raw fish,” which is the key ingredient that is lifted up (“Lo Hei” 捞起) in the festivities. 魚 means “fish” but is a homophone for 余 which means “surplus” or “abundance.” 生 means raw but also “life”, “birth” and “spring forth.” At Chinese New Year, also called the Spring (春) Festival, Lo Hui / Yu Sheng is a colourful, playful and poetic acting out of a blessing that abundance of life will spring forth in the year ahead and that those celebrating will enjoy more than enough.

For Christians, a fish is a symbol of Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Saviour (see this post about “Ichthus,” the Greek word for “fish”). This “fish” (魚) declares that he is life (生) (John 11:25; 14:6) and that he came “that they may have life (生), and have it to the full (余 ).” (John 10:10) The Psalmist celebrates this abundant blessing with the famous words: “my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:5-6)

But the blessing of this “fish” (魚) comes to us because he was raised up (起) in three different ways:

1. He was lifted up on the Cross
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:32)

2. He was lifted up from death
“God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay.” (Acts 13:34)

3. He was lifted up to heaven
“God exalted him to the highest place and” … “he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Philippians 2:9 & Hebrews 10:12)

And there, according to the extraordinary vision given to John, this Jesus “who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!'” (Revelation 21:5). It is in and through the death, resurrection and exaltation (3x 起) of Jesus (Ichtus / 鱼) that we see what God had already shown Isaiah centuries earlier: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (生/春)(Isaiah 43:19)

When we enjoy the fun of “Yusheng,” we can just see a local tradition and wishes for prosperity, or we can let it raise up before us an immeasurably fuller, richer and longer-lasting spring that has already begun.

Bible quotations are taken from the New International Version