Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter

Easter is one of the two holiest days of all Christian Churches, the other of course being Christmas.  The birth, life and death of Christ brought salvation to the world through redemption from sin.  According to Hebraic Law, blood sacrifice was necessary for forgiveness from sin.  Although the most perfect lamb was chosen, being biological of course, it could not be PERFECT.  Consequently the sacrifice was good for one year only.

Jesus was the "Perfect Lamb of God" without spot or blemish in his life from beginning to end, so was the perfect sacrifice for complete forgiveness for all time.  John 3:16 sums up the whole issue.

My Iowa cousin, Alice, made reference to Maundy Thursday in a recent email.  I had to confess to not being familiar with the days of Holy Week which lead up to Easter Sunday.  I am familiar with the Tuesday before Lent, celebrated by the British with wild pancake parties and by the more sensible folk as Mardi Gras.  Alice sent me the following explanation which I thought was excellent.


On Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a colt-ass.   His 12 disciples followed him, and the people who tended to believe in his teaching, preaching, and miracles that they had been seeing & hearing, waved palm branches, laid their cloaks down on the ground before him, and hollered "Hosanna!"  Which means roughly, "Lord, save us!"  They didn't understand the kind of kingdom he came to establish.  (Hey, I don't understand all of it yet either!)   
 
While this was happening there were people watching who didn't like him & his message. (They didn't understand it either.)  The Roman soldiers were standing around, making sure there was no trouble, no religious rebellion or insurrections, anything like that.  And the Pharisees, the head honchos of the Jewish people /temple in the city, were afraid that this self-proclaimed King was gonna take away their power.
 
By Thursday, the general mood of the people in Jerusalem was going downhill.  The place was crowded because of the Passover, the celebration of when the Angel of Death passed over the homes of the Hebrews when they were enslaved in Egypt  several hundred years before, when God chose Moses to lead them out.  The last plague was that the first born of every household would die that night, when the Angel of Death moved thru the city, but the Hebrews were instructed to sacrifice a perfect lamb and to use a brush of hyssop (fragrant plants) to paint blood from the sacriced lamb onto their door frames.   The Angel of Death would pass over those houses with blood on the doors.   This event became a feast, celebrated annually by the Jews, and they came to Jerusalem from all Israel to  celebrate, if at all possible.
 
On Thursday, Jesus did some teaching.   He gave the final form of the commandments of God.  (First, there were something like 603...not sure of the exact figure right now...but there were LOTS of commandments in the early days to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of the faith.  Second, they were pared down to 10 commandments when Moses received them on Sinai, during the Exodus.  Jesus further pared them down to one-maybe-two:  Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love one another.)   The term MAUNDY comes from the same root word as COMMANDMENT........either Latin or Greek....can't remember right now for sure. But it is MANDATORY (another word from that root) that we love God and one another.
 
 Jesus held a Passover feast in the Upper Room of a home.  He invited his 12 disciples, and he did something quite unusual:  instead of having a servant wash the feet of his guests, he did it himself, which taught us servanthood.  Peter that night taught us humility & submission.........I'd really rather wash my own feet & he felt that way, too. 
 
 During the feast, Jesus instigated the practice that would become The Last Supper, Holy Eucharist, Communion, referring to himself as the Perfect Lamb who would lay down his life in sacrifice for all the sins of all mankind for all time..........The Father's perfect plan to overcome the imperfections experienced by humanity ---and even our most grievous & terrible sins---since the Fall from Grace in the Garden.
 

9 comments:

  1. Well, the story ignores the unfairness of killing the innocent in place of the guilty, does it not?

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  2. Not at all, Snowbrush. That is the entire point of the story. That the innocent died voluntarily that the guilty who deserve to die might go free. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend.

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  3. My point didn't concern whether the death was voluntary but how it satisfied justice.

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  4. well, I guess it's a good thing that Jesus wasn't concerned so much with justice as with the salvation of humankind. and by 'salvation', I mean the opportunity to spend eternity in communion with God.

    with that, I don't plan to participate any more in that discussion.

    but I do want to thank you, Al, for posting this - I enjoyed reading it! :)

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  5. I disagree that Jesus was not concerned with justice. We're taught all along from Old to New Testament that God's judgment is righteous and necessary. What Jesus wasn't concerned with was condemnation (He came to save the world, not condemn it.)

    But justice WAS served in his self-sacrifice. It's like this: if a man goes to court for a crime he's committed, and he is justly given a fine for that crime, and then the judge, the one who weighed the crime and decided on the fee, out of love paid the man's fine. Justice was served: the man's crime was acknowledged, and the debt was paid.

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  6. Thank you NCSteph and Ky for wading in and for your good comments. I think it pretty well covers the issue as much as is possible in this context. Well done..

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  7. Thank you for posting this. Very good.

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  8. Vigilante, thanks for dropping by.

    DC I was hoping you would show up as I was waiting for your comments.

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