Reflecting on Easter
Here comes yet another Easter, the season of awakening. It is a period the temperate regions move away from the squeezing cold and other wintery months features such as snow and blizzards, and the attendant slumber; and the tropical world moving away from enervating hot weather—from heat, and dust outside the rain belt region.
The awakening of spring in the fourth month of the year swinging in figure 4 which signifies Nature! What with the sprouting of plants with the first rains, enchanting flowers and endless stretches of enthralling lawns that calm nerves and heal souls.
Easter affords mankind another opportunity for reflection on the beauty of Easter on the one hand and the life and times of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the other. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on the premature termination of His ministration, cut short brutally by the priestly and political Establishment of His days.
A great many hardly connect the beauty and hope that Spring represents. What they understand by Easter is the infliction of untold suffering on the Lord which culminated in His crucifixion on the cross. This is what the world celebrates every year in the mistaken belief that by His gruesome death, the Lord died for sinning mankind and he has carried away their sins, and that death was the purpose of His coming to this earth. He thus fulfilled His high Mission through His crucifixion, it is said.
It is amazing that even more than 2,000 years after His death, we mankind have not had the full grasp of the purpose of the Mission of the Lord to this deep vale of matter—an urgent rescue mission that it was. The Mission was clear and precise. It was to draw our attention, through His Teachings, to the correlation between conduct and destiny, the relationship between cause and effect, between seed and harvest in the earthly as well as in the spiritual sense.
“What a man soweth that shall he reap,” says the Law. Through His Word mankind is to recognise this sublime value of the Divine Laws. By so doing the Son of the Highest sought to demonstrate the perfect lawfulness that governs the entire universe, nay the whole of Creation. It is this lawfulness which gives expression to the Will of His Father. It is in this Will that is contained the Truth, Love, the Wisdom and Power with which the Almighty maintains His Creation, our world included. We are made to understand that with this knowledge and by unceasingly adhering to the Laws, we are connected with the Source of Life and Power.
The whole essence of this, therefore, was to show us the way out of our sins, without which our spirit will be overlaid with dross. With weight on the spirit, the eyes of the soul will be befuddled and in accordance with the Law of Gravitation, the spirit which is the real man is dragged down and may end up in the abyss, in perdition.
With the sanction of the Will, mankind is to strive towards perfection, ennoblement and purity of thoughts, of words and deeds. In other words, with purity, the spirit is light and lifted up, ready to take a flight to the Heights, the community of the pure, our Home Above! What I am getting at is that the hallmark of sinlessness is the maturity of the spirit which manifests in self-consciousness at the end of the day.
As is customary, the celebration of Easter began last week Sunday what is called Palm Sunday. It is a mock replay of the triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus into Jerusalem where He was given a rousing reception and hailed as the Hosanna! This year the Palm Sunday was bereft of its fanfare, revelry—singing and dancing, no thanks to COVID-19 which has unbelievably put nearly the entire human race under house arrest! It has paralyzed economic and social activities in practically all countries. Flights are suspended. Hospital beds are fully occupied in Italy, Spain and in most states of the United States. Churches were empty of worshippers last Sunday and this will repeat itself tomorrow, Good Friday, and on the Easter Sunday.
The redemptive efforts of the Lord were faced with resistance from the word go. From a chain of World Teachers and Prophets, a large number of them coming from Israel had ingrained in the Jewish people a restless expectation of a messiah who would free them from the yoke of enslavement, persecution, wars, occupation of their lands and foreign rule. Enoch spoke of the coming of a Mediator between God and mankind “who is begotten of God from all time, and hidden from men until His Hour.” Daniel had prophesied: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of Heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7, 13-14).”
The Psalmist said of the Messiah: “He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwelleth in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.” He went on: “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. For, he shall deliver the needy when he crieth, the poor also, and him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor and the needy, and shall save the souls of the needy. He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight” (Psalm 72, 11-14). Jeremiah called Him Jahweh, “the Lord of our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33, 16).
The prophecy of Isaiah is well known: “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Imanuel (God with us). The Lord will bring on you, your people, and the house of your father, such a time as has never been seen since Ephraim separated from Judah—the king of Assyria (is coming).” Moses prophesied (Numbers 24, 17): “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel.”
By the time of the Lord Christ, the Jews had had Ten Commandments of God mediated to Moses on Mount Sinai out of which the Mosaic Law, the Torah arose. Out of lack of the right understanding, the obedience to the Torah had become rigid and unnatural, dead-letter belief. It forbade healing on the Sabbath day, and took very serious exception to the Lord Jesus healing on a Sabbath day. They were alarmed that He restored sight to the sightless. He healed a man who had been sick of palsy for 38 years. The Jews did not see Divine Power in the healings, rather their concern was their office, public acknowledgement and influence the miracle would seem to have threatened. And they said: “This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day” (John 9, 16).
John further reports that after healing the man who had been sick for 38 years, the Jews said: “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day.” The Lord said in response to their hate-filled criticism as follows, again, reported by John the apostle: “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making Himself equal to God.” But the suspicion of what the Lord was up to and the resistance had begun from when the Lord was barely 12 years old and the bandage had not dropped from his eyes to recognise His High Mission which was to carry the Holy word of His father to the faithless.
As early as that age, He had learnt to read through the sacred Texts of the Israelites, the carefully prepared chosen people, and had even memorized them just like every other Jewish child. So armed was he that when His ministration began, he was completely at home with what was on ground. To demonstrate that He knew where the Jews were coming from, He was wont, very often, to punctuate His pronouncements with: “Ye have heard…but I say unto you.” “Have ye never read…” “It is written…” “Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the lord thine oath: But I say unto you, swear not at all…” (Matthew 5, 33-34).
The Establishment made up of the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees were crestfallen; the ordinary people were amazed and they said He spoke with the authority of One Who knows. He stood alone and made independent decisions, giving no bother as to whether even his Disciples comprehended him or not. This engendered fear in the Establishment- the priestly and political leaders who felt their influence among the people, their authority and power threatened. “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” At all times, the Lord Jesus held His ground: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5, 17), He said to them. The Lord brought freshness, life and meaning to age-long Commandments and traditions which were correct and furthering to human spiritual development, but wasted no time in dismissing a great many as useless that must be discarded as they were dangerous. The Establishment, infuriated, sought to blackmail Him and undermine His person by dismissing Him contemptuously as a carpenter and son of Mary.
The Lord was unperturbed. He told them: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If a man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself. He that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness in him” (John 7, 16-18). He asserted: “I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John 5, 36). The Pharisees were unimpressed; they argued that two witnesses were needed for the confirmation of truth. But the Lord would not retract His words. It was with absolute disregard to consequences to His person. Where the Pharisees demurred, He demanded. “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?” “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like the whited sepuchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones.”
After their failure to recognise the Lord and his Mission, believing that He was not their expected messiah, but a threat, they began to plan to get rid of Him, even though they were all agreed that His life was without blemish and his deeds were always and everywhere in accord with his Words. Traps were set for Him and eventually got one of the Disciples to betray Him using the gathering at Passover and the Lord’s rousing reception in Jerusalem as cover. The resistance movement members had massed, pretending to be pilgrims for the festival. In the end the Great Sanhedrin met and found the Lord Jesus guilty of blasphemy. Invoking articles 55, 76 and 82, of the Jewish Laws, the Jews had the Lord murdered! Those articles read in part: Article 55: “A pseudo-prophet must be judged by the Great Sanhedrin, and be executed in Jerusalem” ; Article 76: “the President of the Great Sanhedrin has the right in exceptional cases to pass over any obstructive regulation in order to put a swift and radical end to apostasy.” Such an action is called Horaach Schaah, an action according to the need of the moment; and 82: “Even the execution of an innocent person can serve in the maintenance of law and order, and the salvation of god’s people.” These were the provisions of the law to which Caiaphas the high priest drew the attention of the Great Sanhedrin to convict the Lord, One who brought Holy Peace and Love to mankind, and Who showed the way out of the wilderness to the forgiveness of our sins. Puny human beings dared lay hands on their Lord, the Love of God, A Part of Him, the Son of the Highest! Tomorrow, Good Friday is one Easter worthy of our deep refection!
*A full account of His trial some other day.
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