Saturday, April 11, 2009

He is risen

Some totally compelling evidence and views to support the Christian belief of resurrection:

My prayer for you,
May you experience God's richest blessing this beautiful Resurrection Sunday, the knowlege and heart of the love provided from the Father through the Son, and may your walk be arm in arm with God. May you be listening when the Holy Spirit whispers of His love and desire for you, and May all of your roads return to Him.

The heart of the Father

Within the Easter story, there is a supernatural, miraculous event that I wanted to explore in my reflections on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It is the ripping of the temple veil. I am trying to wrap my mind around it, to gain a greater understanding of it, and I’m finding that it is a huge, well-published topic, but I wanted to share a little with you.

So what is the temple veil? At Christ's moment of death we are given to understand the Veil in the Holy Of Holy Temple in Jeruselem was torn asunder...

“The temple was divided into two portions, an outer room called the Holy Place in which a number of priests served, and an inner room called the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies. This inner room represented God's presence. It was so sacred that the only person allowed in was the high priest, and then only on one day of the year to make atonement for the sins of himself and the people. This sacred room, the Holy of Holies, was separated from the rest of the temple by an elaborate and beautifully embroidered curtain. According to Jewish descriptions of the temple, this curtain was truly massive—measuring some 30 feet wide, 60 feet high and three inches thick.”

“Back then in the Temple they would have a curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. This was where the Ark of the Covenant had rested, and was considered to be the place where God resided. Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies - and God's presence - once a year, and then only after an elaborate cleansing ritual; even then he would have a cord tied to his leg so that others could safely drag him out should he enter God's presence with unatoned sin.”

That got my attention right away, that the priest would have to be so clean, that if he has the slightest sin, he would have to be dragged from the temple by a rope tied around his leg, as he tried to make atonement for the sins of others by sprinkling the blood on the altar. I wonder how many priests got hauled out of the Holy of Holies? I know I’d never make it. And what about the humiliation of admitting that you might need the rope, because of oops that last thought or two?

***Heres a vivid earthy tale of everyday life on the day of the Lord's death:

Imagine you are a traveler who has been delayed on your way to the Passover feast in Jerusalem. Your donkey has gotten sick. Or the wheel on your wagon was broken. Or a favorite short cut has been blocked off. You have to get to the City before the Saturday Sabbath. As a devout person you are not allowed to travel on the Sabbath. You are moving as fast as you can this Friday. Then, at the noon hour, the sky turns black. Shadows mar your way. A storm arises. There are bouts of torrential rain. But you finally get to the gate of the City about two thirty in the afternoon. You pass a big crowd outside the gate. There seems to be some big commotion about some criminals the Romans are crucifying by the roadside. But you pay no attention. You are there for the religious holiday. You are set to get to the Temple. So you rush into the town, and along the streets where even in the rain many people are milling around and talking. You push on toward the Temple court yards. You are eager to get close to the holy of holies. You want to gaze through the Temple portals at the curtain: the splendid gold trimmed curtain that separates people from the presence of God, the inner sanctum, the place where only one priest a year may enter. As you arrive at the first court yard gate you see a family and some women in mourning. They are tearing their clothes apart, rending their garments in the traditional way of crying over the death of a loved one. You stop just a moment to share some empathy, some quiet with these mourners. But then you hasten on, up the dark shadowed steps. You go through two court yards, up to where you can normally gaze in at the curtain. The bottom of your robe is muddy and damp as you have skipped through the puddles. You get there, maybe just before three o'clock, that familiar place. It's really too dark to see. There is a lamp stand of candles inside the Temple near the curtain. If it weren't for those candles on this dark day, you wouldn't see the curtain at all. You take a deep breath. You have made it. You are at the Temple for the Holy Day, before Shabbat. Then – just then – the Earth starts to shake. You hear people screaming. Some things fall off the money-changers tables. You are in an Earthquake. The lamp stand of candles inside the Temple falls over. You fall down on your knees. Just then you hear a tearing and ripping sound. It is like the mourners who were rending their garments, only louder, more dramatic. The priests come running out of the Temple. You suddenly realize the rip is the veil of Temple. The great curtain is being torn from the top unto the bottom. You see it fall over what is left of the lamp stand. A great thud must be the curtain rod splintered and hitting the ground. A big cloud of dust comes out the Temple door. Some stones fall out of the portico. The Earth trembles. It slows. It stops. Some dust clears. People all around you are screaming and scurrying – looking for loved ones. But you are alone. You stand. You look inside. There is no longer a curtain. You, little old you, unimportant, insignificant you, you can look right into the place of God. There is no longer anything to separate you from God. On this Friday. This strange terrible Friday, something has changed. There is no longer anything to separate you from God. "

What a sobering and true thought, there is no longer anything to separate you from God.

I also want to share part of an imaginative, rich and full-bodied narrative of those events mixed with the truth of scripture:

"The gospel declares that the way to God is open for the child of God, because there was a loud rip that echoed in the temple when the veil of the temple was torn in two the moment Jesus Christ died upon the cross.

Picture it:
The thick, midnight darkness from high noon until 3 p.m. has been removed. Jesus has been crucified. The sun now shines again upon the gruesome scene on Golgotha, that skull-shaped mound outside of Jerusalem. All eyes are upon three men undergoing the unspeakable agony of crucifixion. The one in the middle, the central figure, has just pierced the end of three hours of silence and darkness with the cry: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” The light returns and He says: “I thirst.” They run and offer Him vinegar on a sponge. And no sooner has He sucked the vinegar out of the sponge than again He shouts in triumph, “It is finished!” Then, in confident serenity, He gives up His life: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” At that point His head drops, falls either to the right or the left, and He hangs in the limpness of death. Jesus of Nazareth is now dead. His lips are silent. There is no pulse or heartbeat or respiration. He is dead.

But then God came to speak. His Son, His beloved obedient Son, was silent in death, but God spoke. It was a language that everyone heard. It was eloquent. It was forceful. And it was glorious. It was the language of miracle. The gospel narratives of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all speak of the rending of the veil. We want to hear what God says in that miracle of the rending of the veil. Do you know what God was saying? He was saying that the way to His presence is open through the blood of His Son.

We read in Mark 15:38, “And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Those are straightforward words. That is exactly what happened the moment Jesus gave up His life. The gospel according to Luke adds one detail. We read there, “The veil of the temple was rent in the midst,” that is, it was not torn off to the side, but smack dab in the middle — from the top down to the bottom.

What was this veil? It was the veil that hung in the temple between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies as God had commanded Moses. In Exodus 26:31-33 we read that that veil was made of blue, purple, and scarlet with the figure of cherubims upon it. It was a massive and thick veil. Do not think of a sheet or a film or even a towel. It was a thick veil, as thick as a man’s hand. And it was heavy. Rabbinical tradition reports that it took three hundred men to hang it. It separated the daily work of the priests in the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies on the other side, where the Ark of the Covenant of Jehovah rested. Only the high priest himself could go behind that veil once a year on the Day of Atonement. He had to go through an elaborate ritual of cleansing of himself and of his garments and bring with him the blood of the lamb to sprinkle over the mercy seat upon the Ark. No one dared pass through any other way. They would be struck dead. The high priest had to prepare and if he did not prepare, he would be struck dead. There was a thick veil that separated the intimate presence of God from the people.

What was the meaning of the veil? It meant that the way to God was not yet open. As long as that veil hung, it declared that the free and unfettered access to God was not yet possible. That is what we read in Hebrews 9:6-8, where the apostle speaks of the Old Testament tabernacle and the pieces of furniture.

He says this: “Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle [that is, the Holy Place], accomplishing the service of God. But into the second [and that is the Holy of Holies] went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing.” Scripture tells us that as long as the veil hung, God was saying that the way into His presence was not yet open. It could be opened only by a full and a perfect sacrifice for sin.

Now back to the moment Jesus died. Scripture says that at the end of the three hours of darkness upon the cross and when Christ had uttered His voice in the loud cry, “It is finished,” and when He had commended His spirit into the hands of the Father, that the veil of the temple was torn from the top to the bottom, smack dab in the middle.

The priests must have been working at that time in the Holy Place, for it was the time of the Passover. They were preparing the evening sacrifices. The temple was busy. Suddenly, without warning, there was a loud crack. A rip echoed throughout the chambers of the temple. The veil was torn through as a clap of thunder from the top to the bottom. And it lay bare the whole inner sanctuary of the Holy of Holies. You could look into the place where they were told that they dare not enter or they would be struck dead.

What was the meaning? The meaning is this, the way is open into the presence of God through the Savior’s blood. God speaks in a way that no one can misunderstand. He says “You may gaze in; you may come into the Holiest; you may enjoy intimate fellowship with Me; you don’t need to be a priest; you don’t need a sacrifice of blood. It is accomplished.”

This is Scripture: Hebrews 10:19 We read, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Jesus has borne our sins in His body on the tree. He has made Himself a sacrifice in place of all appointed of Him of the Father. They are pardoned. The way is opened! The rending of the veil is the Father’s answer to His Son’s shout of triumph: “It is finished!” The Father responds, “Yes, it is finished. The salvation and redemption of My people is accomplished.” So God tore the veil in two. It is accomplished."

So as much as we rejoice and celebrate that fact that the stone was rolled away, I think we ought to remember and rejoice and celebrate that the veil was ripped in two. That we can approach God any time, without a priest and a blood sacrifice, that the final sacrifice has been made, through the blood of the Lamb.

Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath.

Time for a little reflection for me.
Matthew 12:40, Jesus says For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Wondering about the count of 3 days in the tomb, if Jesus was placed in the tomb on a friday, but the tomb was found empty on a Sunday?

Friday: Preparation Day, the Passover
The disciples arranged for the Passover meal, which took place after sundown on Thursday. We might call it Friday Eve, because by Jewish reckoning, the day begins with the previous sunset. That’s why we call 24 December “Christmas Eve.”

Reiteration: Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover in the upper room. They ate it early, which was not uncommon. In that era, most Passover Seders did not include lamb, because most Jews lived too far away from the Temple to obtain a lamb that was kosher for Passover. Therefore the disciples, who were from Galilee, would have been accustomed to a Passover Seder without lamb.

Judas left during the meal. Jesus and the remaining disciples adjourned to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed and the disciples kept falling asleep. Judas arrived to betray Jesus, who spent the rest of the night being tried by the Sanhedrin and by Pilate.

The following morning, which was still the same day by Jewish reckoning, the Crucifixion significantly took place just as the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple. Matthew 27:62, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:55-56, and John 19:31 all inform us that this took place on Preparation Day, which is the Jewish name for Friday. Mark and John explain that the next day was the Sabbath.

Later the disciples realized that in giving them the bread and pronouncing it His body, Jesus Himself had been the Passover lamb at the Last Supper. Thus Jesus, our Passover lamb, was sacrificed for our sins on Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), and His blood protects us from the angel of death.

Jesus died on the cross and was buried before sunset. So Friday was first day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Saturday: the Jewish Sabbath
Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath. According to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, and Luke 23:56-24:3, the day before the Resurrection was a Sabbath. This is the second day that Jesus lay in the tomb.

Sunday: the first day of the week, the Festival of First Fruits
On the third day, Jesus rose from the grave. It was the first day of the week and the day after the Sabbath, according to Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-3, Luke 23:56-24:3.

John 20:1 says the Resurrection took place on the first day of the week. He does not explicitly say that the previous day was the Sabbath, but there is no room in his narrative for any intervening days.

The first day of the week is the Jewish name for Sunday. Sunday is also the eighth day after the creation in Genesis, so Paul describes Jesus’ Resurrection as the first fruits of the new creation in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

Art found: ~thank you.

When you count days you get a different answer than when you subtract dates. If you go to a three-day seminar that begins on Friday, you expect it to end on Sunday, because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are three days. However, if you subtract the date of Friday from the date of Sunday, the answer is two elapsed days. The ancients counted days instead of calculating elapsed time—in fact, Jesus Himself counted days this way in Luke 13:31-32. This is why the tradition is universal that Jesus spent three days in the tomb when He was buried on Friday and rose from the dead on Sunday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday

Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday, is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Golgotha. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the three days from the evening of Maundy Thursday (or Holy Thursday) to the evening of Easter Saturday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover. Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The estimated year of Good Friday is AD 33.

An overview:
According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane by the Temple Guards through the guidance of his disciple, Judas Iscariot. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) (Matthew 26:14-16) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest.

Jesus is brought to the house of Annas, who is the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. There he is interrogated with little result, and sent bound to Caiaphas the high priest, where the Sanhedrin had assembled (John 18:1-24).

Conflicting testimony against Jesus is brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answers nothing. Finally the high priest adjures Jesus to respond under solemn oath, saying "I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us, are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?" Jesus testifies in the affirmative, "You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven." The high priest condemns Jesus for blasphemy, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus concurs with a sentence of death (Matthew 26:57-66).

Some specifics:
The Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus is an event reported by all the Canonical Gospels of the Bible. (Mark 14:53–65, Matthew 26:57–68, Luke 22:63–71 and John 18:12-24).

These accounts report that after Jesus Christ and his followers celebrated Passover as their Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed by his apostle Judas Iscariot, and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was then put on trial by Jewish authorities to determine whether his guilt, in their eyes, justified handing him over to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate with their request that the Roman Empire put Jesus to death on popular demand from the people.

The trial most probably took place informally on Thursday night and then again formally on Friday morning.

The Canonical Gospels report that after the arrest of Jesus, Jesus was taken to the Sanhedrin, a Jewish judicial body. The precise location and nature of the trial varies between the canonical Gospels, particularly between the three Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. In the Synoptics' version, Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin, with Matthew 26:57–68 adding that the Sanhedrin had assembled where Caiaphas the High Priest was located.

This reference, instead of stating a fixed location, may imply that the gathering occurred at the home of Caiaphas. The gathering would have occurred quite late at night, after Jesus' followers had completed their Passover "Last Supper" and they spent further time in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In the era in which the narrative is set, this 'trial' was an ad hoc gathering (ad hoc is a Latin phrase which means "for this [purpose]"), rather than a fixed court, as in the later Council of Jamnia, and its gathering in Caiaphas' home is historically plausible, though irregular. Daniel J. Harrington argues that being located in a home makes it more likely that this was a small first preliminary hearing and not a full trial.

The High Priest Caiaphas was a Sadducee appointed by the Roman Governor Valerius Gratus, who was later replaced by Pontius Pilate.[10] Due to the Roman conquest and occupation of Judea in 63 BC, the Roman Empire controlled all officials of the province.

Members of the Sanhedrin and the High Priest and other chief priests were subject to the approval of and removal by Rome, and were selected for their expected loyalty to the Roman occupiers. For example, in John 11:48, the chief priests and Pharisees worry that "the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

In John 18:12-14, however, Jesus is first taken to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the current high priest at that time. Annas is believed to have been the former high priest, and it appears that Caiaphas sought Annas' confirmation of Caiaphas' actions.

According to John 18:19-24, when Annas questions Jesus about his teachings and followers, Jesus refuses to be co-operative and instead says that he taught nothing in secret, always teaching in public places, and so Annas should just ask the many witnesses what Jesus had taught.

John adds that a nearby official then struck Jesus for this lack of co-operation, though Jesus subsequently answers "If I have done something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?" (John 18:23). John states that faced with this lack of co-operation, Annas sends Jesus to Caiaphas, though John does not mention at all what happens when Jesus meets Caiaphas, instead focusing on the denial by Simon Peter.

While it is true that according to Gospel accounts Jesus usually preached openly, he also instructs those who knew about his claimed Messiahship not to tell anyone who he was, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark. Some see this as emphasizing the presence of secret teachings, and teachings that were taught to only the disciples and not the crowds - see Mark 4:34 for an example.

According to the Gospels of Mark and of Matthew, the Sanhedrin wished to condemn Jesus to death, but they found the lack of evidence against him to be unhelpful. Matthew and Mark state that many false witnesses made statements to the Sanhedrin. According to Matthew and Mark the witnesses did not agree with each other, and hence since multiple witnesses are required by the Deuteronomic Code, the Sanhedrin was unable to condemn him by their inconsistent testimony.

Statements included the claim that Jesus had said he would destroy the man-made temple, and replace it with a non man-made one three days later. (Jesus did prophesy that the destruction of the temple would occur, but never claimed he would do it.) However, according to a traditional Christian interpetation, Jesus was referring to his own body as "the temple."

The charges brought against Jesus were primarily of blasphemy for claiming to be God, claiming to be the King of the Jews, and for allegedly violating various laws under the laws of Moses, which governed Jewish life. When the Jewish leaders' plan to kill Jesus first arose, they explained in John 10:33: '"For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God."'

However, the Bible portrays the true motivation for the trial as being political, rather than religious. The rulers (who had been hand-picked themselves by the Romans) were afraid that the Roman Empire occupying their country would view Jesus' following among the people as yet another uprising, prompting a military attack by Rome to crush a rebellion by the Jewish people.

John 11: "47 What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

All the Synoptic Gospels state that Jesus was finally asked directly by the Sanhedrin if he was the Christ, Son of God. Jesus responded, as in Mark 14:60-62: "And Jesus said, "I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven." (See also Second Coming)

The interpretation of Jesus' statements by the Sanhedrin and their reaction, having no language translation issues and observing him speak live, is offered by Christians as proof that Jesus claimed to be the Messiah (and ending the Messianic Secret).

The Sanhedrin's response shows their understanding that Jesus was once more attributing to himself the role of Messiah, if not Godship, which enraged them. Mark 14:63-64: "Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, 'What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?' And they all condemned him to be deserving of death."

Due to the nature of the Greek language, though, "Christ" could be translated simply as an anointed, a son of God, or as the Christ, the Son of God, with quite different implications. The former of these simply requires that Jesus had been anointed, and that Jesus was a religious leader (a son of God was a common Jewish term simply referring to any person who was particularly religious); since Jesus had been anointed at Bethany, when a woman poured expensive perfumed oils over him, an anointed, a son of God is simply a very naturalistic and fairly worldly statement for Jesus to confirm.

This does, however, seem irrelevant to the case at hand and so the translation the Christ, the Son of God has consequently remained the preferred, more logical choice, seeing as how it is on par with the blasphemy charge driven against him by the members of the Sanhedrin.

The Synoptics also state that Jesus added that the Son of Man would be seen sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, and coming on the clouds of heaven. Many Christians interpret this as a reference to a future second coming of Jesus as it closely parallels Daniel's prophecy about the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13, though in ancient times the gnostics read it as referring to enlightenment reaching each individual - that each individual human (son of man) would spiritually escape the earthly realm and rejoin the world of the monad (mighty one).

The Synoptics state that these responses were sufficient for the Sanhedrin to be able to legally argue that Jesus was guilty, with Matthew and Mark adding that the high priest rent his clothes and said that Jesus' responses were blasphemy. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus is then beaten blindfolded, and challenged him to prophesy who it is that hits him. In Luke this blindfolding, and challenge to prophesy, also occurs, but it occurs before the question is posed to Jesus by the Sanhedrin (although the question is stated in the morning trial in Luke). The beating is attributed to the guards in Mark and to "those holding Jesus in custody" (ESV) in Luke.

Both the Synoptics and the Gospel of John state that early in the morning the Sanhedrin reached their conclusion, and bound Jesus, and took him to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.

In the morning, the whole assembly brings Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king (Luke 23:1-2). Pilate authorizes the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own Law and execute sentencing; however, the Jewish leaders reply that they are not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death (John 18:31).

Pilate questions Jesus, and tells the assembly that there is no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate refers the case to the ruler of Galilee, King Herod, who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questions Jesus but receives no answer; Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate tells the assembly that neither he nor Herod have found guilt in Jesus; Pilate resolves to have Jesus whipped and released (Luke 23:3-16).

It was a custom during the feast of Passover for the Romans to release one prisoner as requested by the Jews. Pilate asks the crowd who they would like to be released. Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asks for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asks what they would have him do with Jesus, and they demand, "Crucify him" (Mark 15:6-14).

Pilate's wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day; she forewarns Pilate to "have nothing to do with this righteous man" (Matthew 27:19).

Pilate has Jesus flogged, then brings him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests inform Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death "because he claimed to be God's son." This possibility filled Pilate with fear, and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came (John 19:1-9).

Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declares Jesus innocent, washing his own hands in water to show he has no part in this condemnation.

Nevertheless, Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot (Matthew 27:24-26). The sentence written is "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." Jesus carries his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrene), called the place of the Skull, or "Golgotha" in Hebrew and in Latin "Calvary". There he is crucified along with two criminals (John 19:17-22).

Jesus agonizes on the cross for six hours. During his last 3 hours on the cross, from noon to 3pm, there is darkness over the whole land.[7] With a loud cry, Jesus gives up his spirit. There is an earthquake, tombs break open, and the curtain in the Temple is torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declares, "Truly this was God's Son!" (Matthew 27:45-54)

Pilate asks confirmation from the centurion whether Jesus is dead (Mark 15:44). A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out (John 19:34), and the centurion informs Pilate that Jesus is dead (Mark 15:45).

Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus, wraps it in a clean linen shroud, and places it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock (Matthew 27:59-60) in a garden near the site of crucifixion.

Another secret follower of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus (John 3:1) also came bringing 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes, and places them in the linen with the body of Jesus, according to Jewish burial customs (John 19:39-40).

They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb (Matthew 27:60). Then they returned home and rested, because at sunset began Shabbat (Luke 23:54-56).

On the third day, Sunday, which is now known as Easter Sunday , Jesus rose from the dead.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The unbearable pain of abandonment in the face of impending death...

Agony in the Garden
by Carl Bloch

The Agony in the Garden refers to the events in the life of Jesus between the Last Supper and Jesus' arrest. According to all four Gospels, immediately after the Last Supper, Jesus took a walk to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, accompanied by St. Peter, St. John and St. James the Greater, whom he asked to stay awake and pray. He moved "a stone's throw away" from them, where he felt overwhelming sadness and anguish, and said "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it." Then, a little while later, He said, "If this cup cannot pass by, but I must drink it, your will be done!" (Matthew 26:42). He said this prayer three times, checking on the three apostles, between each prayer and finding them asleep. He comments: "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak". An angel came from heaven to strengthen him. During his agony, as he prayed "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground".(Luke 22:44).

The Meaning of Agony
The word agony is not just a pious term from the Rosary or other traditions; it’s a term from Scripture. In Greek they talk about Christ’s agonia. We know what agony means in English, but in Greek, at the time of Jesus, it was also a technical term for what athletes did warming up for the Olympic Games. During that warm-up, the Greek athletes would produce a certain sweat which would warm up their muscles and ready them for coming combat. That sweat, that lather, was called their agonia. Luke is telling us that Jesus does an agonia to get ready for his passion. In essence, Luke is saying, we don’t move from being self-pampering to dying on a cross without some preparation. The Agony in the Garden is the warm-up, the readying, the agonia for the Passion that follows.

Drama of the Garden
Do you ever wonder why that drama happens in a garden? It’s the Agony in the Garden, it’s not the Agony in the Temple, the Agony in the Synagogue, or the Agony on a Mountaintop, or in the Boat at Sea. In Scripture, where something takes place is always much, much more than geography. At a deeper level, the geography is spiritual; it’s a place in the heart.
Why the garden? Gardens don’t appear that often in Scripture, but they’re very important. In spirituality, gardens have nothing to do with cucumbers, radishes, garlic. Gardens are where lovers go. That’s very important in getting to the drama of the Agony in the Garden. This is a drama inside of love. That’s why the beginning, where Scripture opens up, we’re in the Garden of Eden. In the garden you can be naked. There’s no shame in the garden. Where does Mary Magdalene, who was the great lover in Scripture, find Jesus on Easter Sunday, in the morning? In a garden. Remember the wonderful old gospel hymn that Elvis Presley famously recorded: “I come to the garden alone, and he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own. And the joy we feel when we tarry there... .” That’s Jesus as a lover, and he calls us into the Garden.

The evangelists don’t emphasize the whips, the beatings, the thorns, the blood, the nails. They emphasize he was alone, betrayed, humiliated, hung out to dry. Nobody stood up for him.
When you read Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is saying in the Last Supper that he is dreading what’s going to happen. He doesn’t speak about the ropes and the whips and the chains, he doesn’t say, “You know, I’m really going to get beaten up out there.” He says, “You’re all going to betray me. I’m going to be alone.”

The unbearable pain of abandonment in the face of impending death...

another poem by

We talk so much
about so little

At work
in our homes
and on our phones
we gather
circling over
the lives of
family, friends, acquiantances and strangers
like vultures
we rip away bits of flesh
feasting on their tragedy
and failure

In this formation
days are shaved off
of precious lives
in heavy chunks
and we do not see
that Death is only
a mile down the road
rolling toward us
in a gold 1972
Cadillac Coupe De Ville

And when that beast
swings into our driveway
the time for talk
will have passed

Death’s secretary
will have already booked
a meeting with
family, friends, acquiantances and strangers
a meeting in which the
top item on the agenda
will be to feast on the
delicious story
of our demise

Just as we had done
so well
when we were
among the living

We talk so much
about so little

And with so little

We still
sit at the stone
our tongues
and admiring them
as they gleam


Robert Bruce is one of the most read, linked, loved and reviled poets working on the web. He writes at KNIFE GUN PEN every Monday from Portland, Ore. Get more of Robert over at Twitter. If this did something to you or for you, go ahead and spread it around...


Monday, April 6, 2009

An attempt to steal my identity

I got this email from 'Pay-Pal' (notice how it is spelled, the real PayPal doesn't have the hyphen) and I'm trying to spread it around. I looks very legit in your email, but if you click the link and fill out the information it goes to some criminal who will use that information to do you harm:

We regret to inform you that access to your account has been temporarily limited.

This has been done due to several failed log-in attempts.

Case ID: AX-309-05-66

To restore your account please log in correctly.

If you fail to log in correctly your account will be suspended for fraud prevention.

You will be able to register again for PayPal only after you authenticate your profile.

We apologize for the inconvenience, this measure was taken for your protection.

PayPal Security Team

There is a link to click that is underlined that will take you to the screen to "fix it" well suspicious me, I called paypal and said what is up with this, and the phone person said there was nothing wrong with my account, that this was a bogus email, and the screen that it clicks to asks for all my personal information so that they can steal my identity!!!!!!

If you ever get something like this call them first. Never just click through. Scary!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises…And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us…This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts…Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us. (Hebrews 8:6; 10:15-16, 19-20)


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