The day which coincides with the Jewish Passover commemoration, – but not being the same! Not being the same as it goes back so long in Jewish history and tradition for various reasons.
However, the Jewish Passover reminds us of the Jewish liberation more than 3000 years ago by God from the suppression in ancient Egypt. The Jews at that stage ruled by the Pharaohs. It became the birth of a nation under the leadership of Moses. A nation with a promise and a destiny as long it did meet God’s will amidsts all adoptions to be made.
Since Jacob’s travels and settlement in ancient Egypt things were far from perfect and the Jews often did displease God’s intentions and requirements, hence some of the slavery brought on them as the implications of bad behaviour.
But God had always compassion for his people if self inflicted suffering took too long. Often with the “power of one” He tried to guide them back into the right direction, as He does not give up. As He does not give up on what He created and the promise He made.
In some ways the exodus for all of us is still going on as still through centuries we seek liberation from slavery and dark powers. The dark powers not always around us but the dark powers within us.
That’s the story of Jesus. Again the “power of One”.
Doorposts marked with blood of a slaughtered spring lamb in those early days in ancient Egypt, – gave way to the spirit of God to leave the first born in these homes alive, – whilst punishing the households of the oppressors in Egypt. If required the spirit of God to use force to protect His people or to give them an escape under nasty predicaments. And finally after 10 plagues Pharaoh would release his Israelite slaves after the death of all the Egyptian first-born.
As we know, through history Israel crossed different pathways and despite warnings from various prophets the direction of this ever embattled country has not always been the right one.
The timing of certain Christian and Jewish celebrations might be different for some. The journey of Christian faith through centuries gone past took on some issues however different directions, but for our Father in Heaven alone the timing of our celebrations is not that important. More important is what we carry in our hearts out of those yearly celebrations as a yearly reminder of what once happened so many years ago. This applies to both Jesus birth, his death and resurrection.
Let’s hope that more people embrace Good Friday and Easter for what it really means and that the yearly reminders and celebrations may deepen the faith for those being receptive. That’s the purpose of reminding the crucifixion of Jesus and why it was due to happen.
As we know amidst the Roman oppression Jesus was born, however with a different mission to seek liberation from the kind of slavery neither being related with the Romans nor being related with any other nation on earth. The liberation was closely related with the pending Kingdom of God for which people in those days needed to prepare. But the message by far most of people was differently perceived. They did neither understand the signs of their times nor did they really understood the message so long being proclaimed in Jewish history, as God’s people had a purpose and were not allowed to compromise the basics, as they did.
Jesus did not come “out of the blue”, he came by means of God’s intervention again as things in those days were in a dire shape. Not of God’s liking, however with some foresight that it would happen. God knew the nature of His people and it has been an ongoing pain for Him. One may wonder why He did create us as it seems to be a most frustrating business. Also the way His son was treated here on earth….Jesus became despised by both the rulers and the Jews. Rejected for what he had to say and still tries to say on behalf of God.
The colours of the language being used by Jesus did somehow not stick, – as for many people applied that he was painting on a wet wall, – people not being receptive for his message. People with different expectations, anticipating perhaps liberation from the Roman Empire but for certain not a return to the ways God expected people to live by simply listening and returning His call.
Was it so difficult?
History proved it was the hardest thing for people to stick to God’s most basic instructions.
In the long history of the Jews many prophets have been sent to change the hearts of people. Not all of them did survive.
For most people it was on deaf ears and blind hearts, as often still applies with the last person being sent to earth, – this time as the human manifestation of God’s will.
Jesus grew up and tried to picture the Kingdom of God in the hearts of people, hoping that his followers would find his footprints providing direction where it comes to in life, – to be reunited with God in ways as originally intended. Also to bear fruits of this spirit to change humanity, as so often it proved that human nature failed time after time by making the wrong choices and taking the wrong directions against God’s will.
His message was not only for the Jews in his days, his message was intended for the world and he claimed to represent God’s will. With this he embarrassed the status quo of his times and infuriated the leaders of the Jewish tradition, besides creating fear among the Roman establishment as it was not sure how this new movement of people would grow as a force. However, in those days it was not seen by most that this force had nothing else to do than creating a new culture of the heart directed to God, – as generation after generation failed to do this and people were enslaved not only by the Romans but more by their own bad habits driven away from what God wanted to see in His people. God created people with a free choice as a birthright, a gift, – but this birth right was abused for both the wrong reasons and the wrong directions with an outcome which we could label as being enslaved by the soul.
Not the slavery of bad powers like Egypt in the olden days, but the imprisonment of people in their own inflicted perceptions and cultural traditions at the wrong footing of God’s will. Compassionate as God is he did sent his own son to treat people with the same compassion, to save people from otherwise being lost. Lost souls doing what they want to do with neither the right direction nor purpose. Lost as well when further plaques are due to come as Christ knew that history would be an ongoing struggle with increasing divisions.
Still it seems humanity needs to go through even far larger and self-inflicted plaques than those in Egypt to open eyes and to deliver us from evil and darkness, – however through senseless pain and agony. Jesus was rejected and despised and His crucification and dying, in essence for all of us, – gave hope as well for those who believed him and continued to belief in him by free choice.
Good Friday as such is not grief for things long gone, but hope for things still to come. Liberation from collective slavery and guilt. Freedom from the bleeding manifestations of human choices with worse to come, – the last because expansion of knowledge did not go together with both respect for God and human life in the way God intended people to return to His will through Jesus. Christ was God’s most important gift to people to reconcile their human nature with God’s purpose and direction. The last in line what human creation was intended to be by God giving people a free choice to do the right thing. God has never been a dictator, but the aim of free choice is to challenge people to get the best out of their human nature and leave behind the obstacles for a meaningful life with purpose and direction. Life which is fruitful with the combination of love and compassion, work and endurance, – all in the spirit of the most simple and provided principles of putting His will first amidst refraining from violence and improving the lot of others.
Basic this is what Jesus did and He created through the centuries great following of various denominations, also with different aims and not rarely with short-sighted views.
It almost seems as if human nature is deeply and hopeless divided in itself, against the will of God.
Jesus message was not the antidote for the deep-rooted venom in far too many cultures, – like once at smaller scale with the poison of both Roman oppressors and people representing the Jewish traditions in his days. True respect for both God and human life are almost forgotten identities at nearly global scale, – where more sinister forces seem to get stronger. Conditions where the heat is on for those who still want to do God’s will.
Jesus being rejected and often still rejected. However hope not forgotten but still to come. Not senseless grief but grief with sense through his dying and his promise that he left His spirit for those willing to meet this spirit, – to save those who belief in him from the agony of times, even if this agony eg implies atomic warfare as one of the plaques in modern times. But those who are marked with the soul and spirit of Jesus, despite all imperfections, – will live. Even if life takes an end….
In this way doorposts marked with blood of a slaughtered spring lamb within the Jewish tradition, have close similarities with Jesus blood during his crucification. Not being forgotten, – but marked in the hearts and souls of people who seek Him still alive. Who seek him for what he has to tell us today, with the knowledge that we live in a time of transition, – still with purpose and direction.
And so it happened:
Coming before the crowd for the last time, Pilate declared Jesus innocent and washed his hands in water to show he had no part in what was going to happen. Preventing as such a riot and making sure he kept his job… Jesus was carried to Golgotha, the place of the execution on the cross along with two criminals. The pain and agony lasted for 6 hours. During the last 3 hours darkness fell over the area and with a loud cry he gave up his human spirit. At almost the same time there was an earthquake, certain graves broke open and the Temple curtain was completely torn. The guards who saw what happened declared that “this was truly God’s Son!”
Pilate asked for confirmation whether Jesus was dead and a soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and fluid to flow out and Pilate got the message that Jesus was dead.
The body of Jesus was wrapped in linen after he was taken from the cross by Joseph of Arimathea. He was placed afterwards in a newly carved tomb in a rock.
On the 3rd day after his death on Sunday (Pascha), – Jesus rose from the dead, as he told the Pharisees this would happen.
With this His existence took a new identity and those who search Him will find him, – like those who found him before.
At some stage He will come back as part of the Kingdom of God, which we may carry already in some form as a lifeline amidst all imperfections but with an obligation though to stay true to His words and give meaning in the way we perceive those words, using our talents as little seeds to grow in wisdom and compassion for the pending harvest. There is not much more we can do.
The harvest up the mountain where pain will not last, where tears will be wiped away. The mountain where suffering will end and where our human destiny gets ready for the eternal transition. A transition where words do not speak the words they did, where fruitless actions don’t have the impact which they had before. The harvest of those who kept God’s will at heart regardless the circumstances. The harvest of those who kept Jesus alive in their own faith and actions, regardless the circumstances with those who were against it. That is where the real exodus starts, the transition of people trying to do God’s will into the Kingdom of God, after the last plaques on earth. But God’s people will be protected with the marks of Jesus in their heart like the Jews were protected in the days their doorposts were marked with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb, allowing God’s hand to make the distinction between those who were with him and those who were against him. It is this transition where every valley shall be exalted and where the poor get bread. A transition where it will be somehow always Easter and where we may always rejoice being God’s harvest, – in Jesus presence.
That’s the promise, even if we don’t see it.
And therefore as long as we are allowed to stay on this earth let us remember Good Friday, – and let’s keep Good Friday at heart as a mark on our own soul to be protected in whatever we have to endure ourselves, – to stay strong and have courage and determination with the promise that we will live.
Whilst there is widespread scholarly agreement on the existence of Jesus, the portraits of Jesus constructed have often differed over past centuries until up today. Various scholars have criticized each other on the different approaches being used, – including the studies on the historical Jesus.It’s a long story, which started roughly since 1778 with various books being published and many criticising each other on historical methods of research. Some scholars believe that the life of Jesus must be seen within the historical and cultural context of Roman Judea and the forces in action within and without the Jewish culture at the time. The Roman occupation must be considered as well. Jesus grew up in Galilee and the majority of his ministry took place there. The language was both Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic being the main language. There are indications that Jesus spoke all those languages with most of his teachings in Aramaic. It would seem Jesus has been identified as a carpenter, woodworker and/or even builder. A highly skilled craftsman perhaps, – besides being wise and highly literate in the Torah. He could clearly read. Nazareth was only an obscure village at the time. His extended travels may suggest he had the financial means to do this. The existence of John the Baptist at the same time frame as Jesus in history, including the execution of John the Baptist, has been confirmed as authentic by far the majority of both old and modern scholars. This included Jesus having disciples and the incident around the Temple.
Scholars do agree as well that Jesus died between 30-36 AD
Despite the various opinions among scholars there is a consensus on the baptism and the crucification including the painful death of Jesus under Pontius Pilate, all this being historical facts and indisputable.
Interestingly scholars disagree on the reason and context for the above crucification. Some do say that Jesus did not foretell his own crucifixion, and that this own prediction on his crucification has been a Christian story developed after his death.
Despite efforts through centuries even until up to day the views on the portrait of Jesus are fragmented and no consensus has emerged amidst the different assumptions on the various contradictions in the life of Jesus. Various scholars support both the view that Jesus has prepared his followers for the end of times and that the resurrection of Jesus are physical and historical events .
There is support for view as well that Jesus came to announce the end of the Jewish spiritual exile within the Roman context of oppression and that in a new messianic era God would improve this world through the faith of his people.
The account of Jesus as the Christ being the Son of God can be accepted to be reasonable true in the view of the majority of scholars, – however with variations and despite an element of bias as most biblical scholars are Christians. Having said this some bias perhaps did not prevent many biblical historians being able to keep the scholarly integrity of their work.
Whilst Jesus hoped to bring God’s rule on earth with a genuine believe that this would arrive in his time, it did not happen. Not the way he did expect this would happen initially. In his days on earth, more than 2000 years ago, – he inspired people to change and to get reborn in God because the Kingdom of Heaven was nearby. He spoke almost as a matter of urgency on various occasions, as not too much time was left. Not much time being left before a revelation of supernatural power would take place enforcing the Kingdom of God on earth.
He gave various indications to get ready with grave warnings for those not being ready. He was clearly anticipating a total transformation, anticipating the unspeakable actually, – the time of the greatest harvest here on earth.
It was this which provoked him to send away some of his closest followers, promising them that after their return the Kingdom of God would be on earth.
The traditional Jesus as he presented in history was perhaps far more radical than we believe now.
With his awareness of God so clear and nearby, with no difference between his thoughts and God thoughts, – he expected the Kingdom of God to come soon.
Again it did not happen, for reasons we don’t know.
Only God knows.
We know about some of the miracles Jesus performed. Being able to do this using God given powers he never claimed to be God himself and was very clear in those distinctions.
Unless change was coming from within by complete transformation through him, you misunderstood what he had to say.
This was the only way to God, – as he said.
God’s Kingdom is not on earth as yet, not in the way Jesus initially believed it would come in his own days. God’s Kingdom did neither rule the earth when he died, nor did it rule the earth through centuries gone past, – as we can see and as we still see today.
We still live within anticipation in a time where the world get more complex, where evil powers seem to have free play and where nuclear self-inflicted destruction is hanging like a sword of Damocles on this planet.
Some people may have an awareness that God’s Kingdom is still nearby and some may live out close to similar awareness Jesus had in his days, – but fact is that most of us struggle to face the dilemma’s here on earth as the ruling of God is hard to find in the actions of both many people and countries.
At the root of humanity we were given the gift of a free choice, but this gift in the most general terms has been abused in many ways and humanity by far has not been receptive for the Kingdom of God in the way Jesus once proclaimed to get ready, -to get prepared.
The fact that it may live in some does neither change the world, – nor does it change the needless suffering from the many we can’t reach.
In part Jesus has been created through centuries of darkness into something he never was, part of an agenda within various dimensions and frictions within the Church itself.
Church doctrines often questionable at times, – the least.
Trying to find the Jesus who once wandered the shores of Galilee is not easy and actually not possible as he is not there anymore, but on a closer look on Matthew, he was at least a man at the time of amazing contradictions, – reflecting an extraordinary human existence on earth and fully embracing an ability (his ability) to be close to God, – despite differences and changing perceptions as shown in some of the existing stories.
Whether or not after his death some elements in the general view on his remarkable existence have been created as a selling point for Christianity is perhaps not that important, as long as we don’t get carried away with the small trivial stuff.
He wanted to save the world by showing people the pathway to God and as such the New Testament became a way of looking to Jesus by people who felt both reborn in Jesus but in ways left behind as well. The last may explain that the true historical Jesus is hard to be found as within this context some of his followers may have filled up the feeling of emptiness after his death with the sort of hope to comfort their own feelings, – genuine hope reflected as facts neither being right or complete correct. This has been the process where the true Jesus got lost in history and where groups within Christianity went to war with each other on in essence trivial differences in perceptions
Clear is that Jesus aimed to offer people a shift in conscious. Making people “the Light of the world” seems to have been his purpose, and with this nothing would stand between his followers and God.
When the Kingdom of God did not arrive the way he did expect it would come, and for which he warned his people to get ready before it was too late, he made a shift in perception. The perception that the Kingdom of God could be reached by a different and higher level of conscious and within this context he died for our sins, – promising his spirit to come back, enabling those searching for him to reunite with him and via him with God, – based on faith.
As faith on its own without action is no faith at all, – considerate action would follow based on this faith. In summary compassion with others, humility and believe in God were the strongholds of this faith. The Kingdom of God as described in the book of Revelation (NT) has no authority from Jesus himself, even though his early prediction of the Kingdom of God had the ingredients of both last judgement and the division of the righteous and evil in his own time.
If Jesus would arrive again today, his compassion would be with those who suffer, not only perhaps because of war or famine, but because of their difficulty to be in the light with him. He knew that nothing was terminal but that despite suffering and through death everything was transitional in his faith and through his faith. That neither death nor live, neither mountains nor valleys could separate us from the love from God through him in Christ.
In other words that based on faith in him we don’t need to worry about the future whatever this entails. This means as well to be awake, as we don’t know “when the master of the house will come, in the evening or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn”. The last still with the implication that God himself will come one day, as predicted for his time by the special rabbi who once wandered the shores of Northern Galilee so many centuries ago, asking simply people to follow him.
Even where we don’t know him in person, through the centuries he still asks us to follow him when we are receptive for this, – and as an unknown stranger we may meet him in our times with him repeating the same question and indicating us to do what is required for our time and generation, – even when we are faced with baffling contradictions.
Whether the Kingdom of God is within those who follow him or in the expected entity of God coming back one day in ways we don’t know, is perhaps not that important for this once despised rabbi, crucified and resurrected.
The simple fact is that both is true, as in both cases we need to be ready by what we do in the short time frame of our own life.
If we respond to the quest to follow him, He understands the area of the unknown as he was faced with this as well, – being in the world but not of it, but faced with the challenge to love, – regardless.
This last word is the word most strongly connected with Jesus, – and this quest is posed to be renewed in every generation regardless of what we are faced with, even though love has failed in many ways where it earns forgiveness.
Therefore the same applies what Jesus once told, – to abide in Him. We don’t need to know each other, as we often do. We don’t need to know the intimate details of our friends to call them friends as lots is a secret in our dealings with others, even in the best possible marriage. But we can abide in the trust we have in some people, though not in all. And perhaps there are circumstances we can’t trust on people, but fact is that Jesus came back to his disciples after he died, after he made the human transition to spiritual transition being more close to God than ever before, but not God himself. He said that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him. Given to him by God. Like Pharaoh made Joseph in some way in command over Egypt, with all authority being provided to help Egypt during the 7 years of draught.
This is just a comparison
And indeed God will be coming one day, – through the agony of times where the suffering hopefully will be shortened.
But as long as we have been caretakers and shepherds for the things we were created, within the scope of our talents, – we don’t need to fear that day as nothing through pain is terminal. Everything is transitional. He knows what we are going through, what we are struggling with and what we are faced with and in His compassion He will not let us down, whatever we are, – bright or silly, beautiful or ugly.
Through the centuries the historical Jesus will come to us this way in a different identity and comfort us , wiping our tears away.
And when our bodies give up in the last agony of dying He will take us away to our eternal Father in Heaven, without judgement on what we did in the true colours of His name.
And so we may say those words again today, – the words He once spoke differently perhaps, but with similar intention: >>
Our Father, Who is in Heaven, … Holy is Your Name; Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven….Give us this day our daily bread, and what we need to stay within Your Will…Forgive us our sins. As we forgive those who sin against us; ..and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…..Help us to find Your Ways in our life, caring and sharing in what we are able to share. Help us to stay within Your Will and show us as to be proper caretakers of Your creation here on earth. And if our lives come to an end lead us in peace to that part of Your Eternal Energy where we once came from, and allow us to stay close to Your Eternal Love….Amen..
In the silence of our hearts, He may still come to us, – asking the same question as He did so long ago. The question to follow Him. And if we do so we get to know Him, – better even as time goes by. Better in the struggles we share, whilst trying to find similar answers for things we face today, in different identities as being faced in the past…………