All over the world on Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection from death of Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus underwent two contradictory charges. They were religious charges under Annas and Caiaphas, and political charges under Pilate and Herod. It is popularly believed that these charges were brought about due to public misunderstanding of his preaching attitude and interest on a wide range of interest.
They could not agree on the charges and so Jesus was condemned on contradictory charges. He was sentenced to death on a cross which is the symbol of contradiction.
St. Paul referred to the cross in his sermons to the early Christians just after his historic conversion resulting from his rendezvous with the Christ resurrected on the road to Damascus, four years after the death of Jesus on the cross.
There was so much social misunderstanding about Christ and his varied sermons that the infamous gibbet was hated by the Jews, Paul included. Paul even saw the wisdom of the cross.
St. Paul went on to assure that Jesus was hung on a tree as one cursed, so that all of us could escape the curse of the law (Gal.3). In another instance, St. Paul writes that the body of Jesus exposed on the cross in similar likeness of sinful flesh, allows God to condemn sin in the flesh (Rom 8:3).
Over and over again St. Paul evaluates the cross revealing that by the blood on the cross God reconciled all things to himself (Col.1:20). It is the cross alone that stands between the Old and New Testaments.
The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was due to the social cross wires of the day as he took upon himself a wide range of interests as revealed in the Holy Bible and is a symbol of divine love that he bestowed on us all. His sacrifice so precious of himself on the cross was and is an outpouring of his immense love for us, to wash away our sins and make us truly loving children of our divine Father.
It was an extraordinary scene on that first Good Friday up Calvary Hill. All people were focused on Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified between two thieves as if he was a notorious criminal. What crime did he commit?
Preaching the divine message of forgiveness and love ‘Love your enemies he said, ‘Do good to those who hate you’ healing the sick and the blind, making the lame walk, cleansing the lepers, raising people from the dead, exhorting people to love their neighbours as themselves, chastising with ample justification the chief priests, the scribes and Pharisees who were exploiting the poor and prostituting religion for their personal gain, and proclaiming that he was the Messiah the son of God where these reasons angered the above groups of people making a wide social circle to pitch against Christ as he did reconcile to himself a wide range of interest in society.
Divinity itself was hanging on the cruel cross to pay for these so called crimes while the world looked on.
In Philippians (2:6-8), Paul says that Jesus takes up our mortal self in flesh though he was immortal so he could humble himself become obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
On the cross, Jesus gives us the gift of his death just as he will give us the gift of life at the resurrection. This is the way Jesus chose to give us life and healing. He would first share human death with us and then enable us to share eternal life with him. We gave him the power to die and he gave us the power to live.
The first indication of the nature of Christ’s mission on earth is in the name Jesus. It meant a divine presence which delivers and saves. He was outside the current of human sin and therefore, he could save man from sin. Calvary and the cross was everywhere the moment he was conceived in Mary’s womb. Jesus had to take the cross as ransom for sins.
The cross would show what sin really is. It would also show men who really forgive sin. Sins of that time was rampant as there was constant misunderstanding of what Jesus preached, creating social cross wires and what was preached covered a wide area of social interest, angering the scribes and pharisees, ultimately making Jesus to be crucified on the cross.
The social attitude towards Jesus and his preaching was varied and the social cross wires more. On the hill side that was watching Jesus Christ that day was a motley collection of people.
There were passers-by looking on with confused minds, some believers, some unbelievers, some tottering between belief and unbelief. There were the holy women always faithful to Jesus who were crying from their hearts, there were others standing at a safe distance sorry for their master but living in fear of the Jews, who were ready to run away at the last sign of trouble.
There were the chief priests and their sychophants, their faces beaming with revengeful smiles. There was the Centurion and his retinue of soldiers who presided over the crucifixion. Close to the cross were Mary, the mother of Jesus, his disciple John and Mary Magdalene the repentant sinner.
All of them represented a microcosm of society then and even today some of them resent the wide scope of interest and activity which Jesus indulged himself in his teachings and attitude.
A particular hour of time was available for everything our blessed Lord had to do. Even his birth is described as ‘in the fullness of time’. So, his holy cross too had its appointed hour. His death would be brought about both, the evil hearts of men and his own willingness; The resurrection by the almighty power of God alone.
Jesus became aware that the social cross wires of the day had also compelled from the world to end and to leave behind those whom he loves and that he must return to his Father.
Today, this same sacrifice is repeatedly offered on the altar. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist is a reminder to say that our Lord Jesus Christ’s redemptive power is still continued.
The great and unique sacrifice on Calvary has not come to an end. Even today, there are social cross wires going against our Lord due to the encompass of divine mature.
Jesus is still living among us and offers himself as a sacrifice when we celebrate the Holy Eucharist. He does this continuously to invite and welcome us to accept and embrace his divine love and follow him.
I was always self-confident
and self sufficient.
I needed no one – for I could cook,
wash and iron my clothes, keep a
tidy house, domestic help I needed
not, for really I could do it all better.
In the office I quickly mastered
the art of business and using my initiative
was soon a great success. Everyone
came to me with their problems for
I always solved them and soon I was
in demand as an ace trouble shooter.
Socially I never relied on artificial
stimulation, I needed no Dutch courage.
I depended on my own personality.
Then came the crisis,
executives who feigned to be my good friends
fabricated a case against me.
I then turned to the Lord
and changed my self-confidence
Like David I began to totally rely on
God’s assurances in the Bible,
and suddenly all my fear left me.
The Bible revealed to me that
anything that can happen to me
has happened to someone else
before, so I stopped feeling
sorry for myself and began
to peruse the Book of Life.
To my surprise I found
the same happening, the solution,
the result and the repercussions
that followed were unmistakably
found in the pages of the Holy Book
written with God’s inspiration.
The first was, “Be still, and know that
I am God.” (Ps 46.10) and like the
stormy breakers of the sea I became calm.
“Evil men testify against me
and accuse me of crimes I know
nothing about.” (Ps.35.11)
“Even my best friend, the one I trusted most,
the one who shared my food, has turned against me.” (Ps. 41.9)
“All those who hate me whisper to each other about me,
they imagine the worst about me” (Ps.41.7).
“I know that I will not be disgraced,
for God is near, and he will prove me innocent. (Is.50.7,8)
“The Lord reached down from above
and took hold of me;
he pulled me out of the deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemies
and from all those who hate me.” (Ps.18.16,17)
Then the awesome truth of God’s words came to pass.
“All my accusers will disappear;
they will vanish like moth-eaten cloth.” (Is.50.9).
Mine too began to die premature deaths, some were maimed
for life and others disgraced and ruined financially.
Truly, “It is a terrifying thing to fall
into the hands of the living God. (Heb.10.31)
“He keeps me from the grave
and blesses me with love and mercy.
He fills my life with good things,
So that I stay young and strong like an eagle.” (Ps.103.4,5)
God then like he did David,
blessed me abundantly with his Amazing Grace.
- Upatissa Attygalle