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Wednesday, 12 April 2017 16:44

Easter

Written by Cross Bearer

The Day of the Resurrected Christ

In the gospel of Luke, it is written in Chapter 9: 23-24, “Then he told all of them, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross every day, and follow me continuously, because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it’” (ISV).1

Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrected Christ. And though bunnies are very cute, that is not what Easter is all about. In fact, is Easter even about Jesus?

“According to Bede the word is derived from Ēastre, the name of a goddess associated with spring.” (see more at https://answersingenesis.org/holidays/easter/is-the-name-easter-of-pagan-origin/ )

So why call it Easter rather than The Day of Resurrection?

When spring time is appearing and Easter is at hand, I think about how Jesus suffered, died, and was resurrected for the forgiveness of our sins and what that truly means.

Spring does symbolize the end of one thing, the dead of winter, and the beginning of another, the growth and blossoming before summer.

This seems the appropriate time for our Lord to have been transformed, just as winter transforms to spring.

However, do we have to wait for springtime or Easter to awaken to the Christ-idea residing in each of us though it be buried under ignorance, fear, and pessimism?

For hundreds of years before Jesus, the prophets delivered message after message about God, in hopes that the people of Israel would turn to Him and relinquish the worship of false idols. That did not happen.

There were some who remained steadfast to their God, but the majority were conformists, adhering to worldly ideals, superstitions, and dogmas.

In Leviticus 19:4, it is written, “Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the Lord your God” (ESV).

For thousands of years, people have been looking outside of God for their needs to be met. They have wandered from one worldly concept to another, hoping to be satisfied by the material pleasures so readily available.

However, these pleasures are all temporal. They offer promises of joy and satisfaction but cannot fulfill those promises because they lack righteousness or the substance of the Christ.

In Matthew 5:6, one of the beatitudes declared by Jesus reads, “Blessed are they who do hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (ESV).

This kind of satisfaction usurps the material pleasures because it is directly linked to Christ. It satisfies the deepest kind of hunger and thirst as it fills the mind with comfort knowing that life offers more than sub-celestial desires.

I realize that to forgo the pleasantries of matter and reach for something more profitable is a very big task. And it requires daily commitment and discipline. However, the reward is everlasting life!

In the gospel of John 3:16, it is written, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV).

That is not accomplished just by mere belief. It means carrying the cross—in other words, holding-up your end of the burden to “the way of suffering” as did Jesus.

As difficult as it may seem, it is not more difficult than what the Lord experienced when, on the night before His crucifixion in the garden of Gethsemane, He was sweating blood.

This is mentioned in the gospel of Luke 22:44 possibly because Luke was a physician. “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (NIV).2

This condition is known as “hemohidrosis” or “hematidrosis.” When the capillaries around the sweat pores become weak, blood leaks into the sweat, a condition seen in patients who suffered from severe stress.

The garden where Jesus sweats blood is also interesting to note. Gethsemane means “oil press.” And back in biblical days, stone or granite was used to press or crush the olives. Now, stainless steel rollers are used to crush them.  Either way, pressure is needed to get the results.

Jesus felt the unbearable pressure that night in the garden as he was being pressed beyond what we could fathom. And so much so, that blood came out of his pores. Nonetheless, that was not the end of his anguish.

He would then suffer “verberatio,” or flogging at the hands of the Romans which was different from the whippings carried out by the Jews in the synagogues. Verberatio was much more moderate compared to flogging or scourging, which could be fatal.

Flogging was debasing, to say the least! In fact, it was so demeaning that Roman citizens were exempt from it.

This in turn signified that only the lowest of low, the ones of lesser importance, such as slaves, would receive such cruel and inhumane punishment.

The apparatus used to inflict this punishment was called a flagellum or a flagrum. Made of at least three thongs or strands that were three feet long, a flagellum was weighted with lead balls or pieces of bone meant to lance the criminal and break open his or her skin.

This is what our dear Master had to endure. And then still, He had to carry the cross (some bible scholars claim Jesus carried the entire cross while others claim Jesus carried only the patibulum) for 650 yards to Golgotha (“place of the skull”) to endure the final humiliation and agony on the cross.

It is no wonder why He sweat blood that night at Gethsemane! After all, He knew what He would have to undergo.

Something else happened on the way to Golgotha. Jesus needed some help to continue the arduous climb. He became tired, naturally, and could no longer carry the cross by Himself, so Simon of Cyrene (‎‎“Hearkening; listening”) was commanded by the Roman centurion to pick-up the cross and carry it as Jesus was ushered to His crucifixion.

In the gospel of Matthew 27:32, it is written, “As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross” (NIV).3

Maybe what we are to take from that is at some point in time in our lives, in order to find true fulfillment and real joy, we must pull our own weight and take up our end of the cross, demonstrating to Christ that we are willing to walk with Him.

By taking accountability for our own choices and actions and thus being willing to bring them to the foot of the cross and pin them to the cross by confessing our faults to God, and repent, we too will be resurrected through Christ.

Jesus, a man without sin, suffered and died for us, rose for us, and now reigns in power over us. He laid down His precious life so that we would be free to live ours.

He stood in our place in hopes of giving us eternality, to overcome, as He did, the last enemy called death!

In her textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, theologian and author Mary Baker Eddy writes, “We need ‘Christ, and him crucified.’ We must have trials and self-denials, as well as joys and victories, until all error is destroyed.”

Self-denial? With all these temptations in the world? How is that even possible?

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:31, “I swear by your pride, my brethren, which I have in our Lord Yeshua The Messiah, that I die every day” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

To die every day, or to divest ourselves of the beliefs of pleasure in the temporary things that only keep us fettered, mentally stunted, and deadened, means to try on the new concepts of Christ-mindedness.

To resurrect means to “restore to life.” However, one cannot resurrect or be restored to Life if one does not first symbolically die or kill off primitive ideas of life.

Christ symbolized love, harmony, peace, joy, and the highest sense of God in action right here on earth. And though following this path and emulating the pattern of Christ-likeness is no easy walk, if we do choose that path, we will live in Love forever!

Now that’s satisfaction guaranteed!

 

ISV-International Standard Version

ESV-English Standard Version

1,2,3 NIV-The Holy Bible, New International Version. Nashville: HarperCollins, 2011. Online.

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