Thursday, April 5, 2012

E - is for Easter

WARNING: This is a deep and hard post. I consider it for general audience but many may not. It is primarily about the Crucifixion of Christ. 

Easter is for me and other Christians the celebration of the resurrection of Christ from his horrific execution on the Roman cross.
To understand the joy of Easter, we must understand the horror that preceded it.

   Christ was born to a single virgin mother who was blessed with a husband who was willing to endure the ridicule of marrying a woman who was considered an adulteress, and raise and love a child that wasn't his. If he hadn't stepped up to protect and marry Mary then she would have been stoned to death at her fathers doorstep for adultery, betrothal was legally considered married without the physical relationship which happened once the husband to be had provided the bride price and a home for his bride to be.
   Christ grew up and probably knew as early as it was possible for his human mind to comprehend the truth that he was also God, and why he was on earth. He stayed home and worked and learned and grew, at a young age shocking the elders and priests with his wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures. When he was around 30 he left home and started his 3 +/- years of ministry.
   During that time he collected probably hundreds if not thousands of followers. The faces were always changing, and the numbers fluctuated, but there were 12 who never left.

*Andrew - Originally a disciple of John the Baptist. (He led his brother Simon to Christ)
*Simon Peter (Andrew’s brother) - Rock of the church. (A fisherman, denied Jesus after the crucifixion.)
*James (son of Zebedee) - Also a fisherman. A strong person who insisted that Christ’s followers “walk the talk.”
*John (son of Zebedee) - Also a fisherman. A strong person who cared for Jesus’ mother and stressed grace.
*Phillip - Andrew’s close friend, also a fisherman. He led Bartholomew to Christ.
*Bartholomew (Nathanael) - Questioning at first, but accepted Jesus of Nazareth. Loyal.
*Matthew (Levi)- Once a despised tax collector, he changed his profession and followed Jesus. Wrote the Gospel of Matthew.
*Thomas - Doubted the resurrection. Was willing to risk his own life for Jesus.
*James (Alpheus’ son) - Mentioned in Gospel accounts.
*Thaddeus (James’ son) - A real follower and preacher of Christ.
*Simon - Known as a zealot or patriot. He saw the vision.
*Judas Iscariot - Ultimate betrayer of Jesus, who kept the money for the group.
http://www.worldsundayschool.com/handouts/disciples.htm

  For years he preached, taught, guided, begged, pleaded, hoped, prayed, laughed, joked, cried, hurt, became angry, hungry, tired, lonely, heart sick, longing, disgusted, joyful, happy, depressed, loving, truthful, sympathetic,  unyielding, focused, striving, succeeding, rescuing, encouraging, peacemaking, convicting, disturbing the status quo, rebel, radical, enlightening, freeing, liberating.
   Christ is nothing like we are shown in mainstream churches. He is a radical. He hung out with the 'wrong' crowds. Broke tradition, but never law.
  He is awe inspiring to me...especially what he sacrificed so I could know him.

  He was betrayed by one of his closest friends, arrested in the middle of the night against the laws of the land. He was shuffled back and forth from official to official all night, not trying to find the truth and justice but to find someone willing and able to execute him. They KNEW he was the messiah they had been waiting for, but they were terrified that if they acknowledged him it would bring the wrath of Rome down on them again and they were comfortable with the system they had. So they betrayed and turned in their messiah for political and physical pseudo 'peace' and 'security'.
   Christ was sentenced to the traitors death on the cross, the most horrific execution known in history. He was scourged, if you've seen Passion of the Christ realize that the scourging was watered down...they couldn't recognize Christ as human when they were done with him. Scourging not only stripped the skin off the back, but was known to strip muscle and even rip ribs out of the torso. Though we know that didn't happen to Christ as it was prophesied that his bones were unbroken. Many many simply died from the scourging and didn't even make it to the cross. Christ did.
   When they finished the scourging, they hammered a crown on his head made of thorns long enough to slice his scalp to the bone and lodge there. They put a robe on him...not a kind act as you'll see later. Then they put a 100lb slab of rough wood on his raw shoulders and forced him to walk. He tried, he tried so hard to keep his dignity, to hold his head up, but he is not just fully God, he is fully human and his body couldn't take the abuse any longer and he collapsed.
   It has been speculated that his collapse and the 'log' falling on top of him as it surely must have, bruised his heart, causing it to swell and burst over the next few hours which would explain why he died so quickly compared to so many who lived days on the cross.
   The guards picked a man at random out of the crowds and forced him to carry the cross, his name was Simon, a man who came to love and follow Jesus.
   When they reached Golgotha, no one forced Jesus, no one dragged him kicking and screaming to the cross. The soldiers ripped the robe from his bloody back reopening the wounds that had dried, and Jesus walked over to the cross and willingly laid down on his bleeding raw back giving them his hands and feet. They guards drove thick nails through the most sensitive nerve centers in the body, and roughly hoisted the cross up and dropped it into the hole to stand up right.
   Death on the cross is a slow, painful suffocation. It uses our strongest instinct the survival mode against us to bring out the longest most torturous death known to man. It was originally invented as a human sacrifice to the sun god, as the person slowly died by exposure and suffocation. It is shockingly still used in parts of the world as a form of execution though rarely now, usually in religiously radical nations to make a point.
   Christ, prayed for those who stood before him. Just as in Greek times when the gladiator fights and games were considered entertainment, so many people would come to executions for much the same purpose. They would mock, jeer, taunt, laugh, spit, tease, and basically did anything they could to add to their physical torment through emotional and mental abuses. The crosses weren't made tall like we see in the movies, where the criminals were above the crowds almost to high to even touch their feet, they were generally eye to eye with the mocking, cheering crowds. There of course were also loved ones there grieving, but most weren't.
   All of this is so horrific, so graphic, but we gloss over what happened all too often because it is so horrific and raw, we don't want to think of it. But this is the truth, unpalatable but whole. But in spite of the horror that Christ endured to this point at the hands of the people he came to save, he prayed for them, begged the Father to over look what they had done to him. You see all this torment wasn't what Christ feared so much that he sweat blood, no this was a drop in the bucket compared to what comes next.
   Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The divine trinity. Whole. Never needing anything beyond each other. Perfect. Perfect community. Never lonely, they had never been apart. They had always been connected, even Christ becoming human didn't break the connection, just changed it a little, minutely. But that was about to change for the first and last time.
   Christ was nailed and raised up, and he became sin. My worst sin, your worst sin, he became the worst of the worst. The worst of the murderers, the worst of the wife beaters, the worst of the rapists, the worst of the pedophiles, the worst of the dictators, the worst of the thieves, the worst of the liars. We talk about Jesus taking on our sins, almost flippantly like he put on my shirt and pants and shoes, what ever. No. When that pedophile touched that child, Jesus, in essence, stepped forward moved that person over and committed the act himself. That is how fully Christ took on our sins. The Father Cannot be in the presence of sin in the same way a human cannot breath water like air and live. So the true punishment fell on Jesus, God turned his back and completely severed himself from Jesus. The perfect community, comfort, and companionship that had always been there was wholly gone.
   Jesus, more then likely died from a heart attack and split heart, literally dying from a broken heart.

  Some believe that Jesus then went hell for the days between his death and resurrection. I don't hold this belief. Jesus' last words before death were 'it is finished.' Why would he say that if he had to go to hell to finish the process? Salvation was whole and complete the moment he breathed his last breath.

  What does this have to do with a post on Easter? Simply this, without the above, Easter wouldn't be. There is no new life, no salvation, no change, no hope, without death. That will never change. For the joy of Easter to be real and resounding, we MUST know the fullness of the death that made it possible.
Celebrate Easter, have fun, rejoice, dance, eat, love and laugh, but never forget the death that brought the life.

I know this was deep and hard, I hope your persevered through. As always I'm open to honest questions from anyone, Christian or not and will answer to the fullest extent I can. However, I will delete any and all bashing without any further acknowledgement of the comment.

8 comments:

  1. Lea,

    This is a lovely post. You are a talented writer.

    I look forward to visiting your blog thru the rest of the a to z challenge to see what you write next! I am following now. :)

    best,
    MOV

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    1. Thank you MOV!
      I've enjoyed your blog as well!

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  2. Nice post! I came across your blog via the A-Z Challenge. I now follow you and would love for you to check out my blog over at http://yadinbromberg.blogspot.com

    Thanks and good luck with the A-Z Challenge!
    -Yadin

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    1. Thank you Yadin,
      I checked out your blog...pretty awesome!

      I hope to see you around!

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  3. An excellent and very thought provoking post :) I agree that too many people gloss over the harsh reality of the crucifixion. It's alright to say "He died for our sins" but the words have lost meaning now. What people need to remember is "He suffered a full 24 hours of mental, emotional and physical agony and wasn't allowed to die until his body simply gave up". I think knowing that makes the sacrifice a little more meaningful.

    I thought that Gethesemane was the garden in which Jesus prayed the night before he died, and Calvary (or the Golgotha) was where he actually died? Also, I think the descent into Hell makes a kind of sense. If you take on the sins of the world throughout its history, there's only one place for you to go. Plus, I think Christ had a little score to settle with Lucifer after trying to lead Him astray so many times, so in defeating Satan you defeat sin, and only then can the world be truly cleansed.

    Apologies for the lengthy comment; I enjoy waxing lyrical about these kinds of things :)

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    1. Yes your right it wasn't Gethsemane...it was Calvary/Golgotha...I was writing the post at 2am so my mind was a little foggy. Thanks I'll correct that mistake.

      I enjoy lengthy comments, it can bring along a different view to consider or reinforce what I already believe.

      Yes there is a score to settle with satan, but that will be settled when Christ comes again, satan has been left alone so events can culminate for the end of the story. he will be dealt with in the end when we are all judged and given our new perfected bodies and the earth and all creation is renewed.

      The Bible says Christ NOT satan rules over hell. Christ is the keeper of that particular prison not satan, satan is the notorious criminal that has a special cell waiting for him there, and he is doing EVERYTHING to stay out of that cell.

      Satan does not make his home in the very prison Christ has prepared for him. He is fighting with every fiber of his being not to be sent there. A fight he will loose, but one he won't stop until all hope is destroyed.

      That is another reason I don't believe he went to hell, hell is mearly the prison that holds those who despised and refused Christ to the grave, away from his presence which is the true punishment...eternal separation from the love and presence of the Father. One that will be overseen by Christ...the keeper of the prison.

      I remember thinking that every time someone went to hell satan had 'won' and shut the gates and locked it to keep Christ from taking that person. No Christ is the one to place that person in hell and lock the gate to keep them in.

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  4. Oh wow. Such a vivid picture. It really touched my heart. Thanks so much for posting this (and leaving the link in my comments)I'm glad I came and read.

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    1. Thank you! So glad you stopped by.

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