Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jesus in the Garden

Typology is found throughout the Bible and helps us better understand God’s Word.
Typology can be said to be where the stories in the Old Testament and New Testament match.
As Saint Augustine said: the New Testament concealed in the Old and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.
In Romans 5:14 Paul specifically calls Adam a type of Christ – a foreshadowing of Christ –a dim image that Christ would later perfect and fulfil.

If we are going to understand what Jesus did in the New Testament, we have to go back and look at what the first Adam failed to do.

And so, when we go back to Genesis Chapter 2, God created man and put him in the garden. Verse 15 says The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it. Now that word ‘keep’ is a very interesting word. In Hebrew it is ‘shamar’ and it literally means to guard, to protect, to preserve. And so you have to ask yourself at that point, guard it against what? We don’t know at that point. Verse 16 and 17 goes on to say: the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." That is what we call the ordeal in the early story – keep and guard this garden but don’t eat from that one tree or the penalty will be death. Then God creates Eve and He takes Eve from Adams rib, creates and fashions Eve and brings Eve to Adam and the two become one flesh. It is implied that Adam will have to teach Eve that we have to guard the garden and she may say “Guard it against what?” He would reply “I’m not sure at this point, but if we eat of that one tree we are going to die”. And that is the issue, obedience and death. God has created us in His image and likeness which means that we have an intellect and a will.

In Genesis Chapter 3, the serpent comes into the garden. Now that word serpent is not a cute little garden snake, the word serpent is the word “nahash” in Hebrew and it is also translated to the great Leviathan, a sea monster, a large venomous creature. The serpent says immediately to the woman "Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" Now that’s a question right away, not: Does God exist, but can you trust Him? The woman gives an explanation what to eat and the serpent replies "You will not die”. Now the question is “Where is Adam here?” Adam has a responsibility to guard and protect the garden and his bride, but he is very silent. Why was Adam silent in the garden and why did he let Eve to answer on his behalf? It is likely that he was scared, very scared! In the Hebrew the sentence is incomplete when then serpent says “Did God say? and there is a veiled threat in the snakes question that is “if you don’t eat of that fruit you are gonna die because you are gonna mess with me. God says you will die if you eat it, I am implying here that you are gonna mess with me if you don’t eat it” Adam is stuck in the middle. He has several choices. One, does he entrust himself to the Father, as Peter told us to do in his letter and say Father I need help what should I do?, Or does he roll up his sleeves and say to the enemy “you are not getting my bride, you are not getting this garden and I am willing to even suffer and die for what God has told me to do. But he is silent. Naturally it is pride that causes the fall of Adam and Eve, but it looks here like Adam is afraid to suffer and they end up falling.

What is interesting after this, is the curse. In Genesis 3:15 God says “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." The Early Church Fathers tell us this is the proto-evangelium, the first announcement of good news and the answer to the problem of original sin is going to involve a deep bruising and it will be in the heel. Christ is the head we are the body. In verse 16, God says “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” What is He saying to Eve? God is saying I am going to help you see how to love. Here is the penalty, you are going to give yourself to your husband, you are going to love your husband, the result will be pain. You are going to have pain, in childbirth, but it results in fruit, the birth of a child. And God says to Adam, you are going to work the fields, you’re going to sweat, there are going to be thorns and thistles, but what’s going to come out of the field, fruit - bread. Jesus has assumed the curse of Adam upon Himself, the curse of sweat, the curse of blood and thorns. What God is teaching them at this point is that “You’re afraid to suffer and trust Me when I told you something to do, I am going to help you learn what real love is all about”.

Now if you go to the New Testament, you will see the opposite of this in Jesus. We asked the question earlier, why did Jesus come? People say, He came to die for my sins, but He came to more than just die. Because if He came to just die, He would have done it right away and got it over with. But Jesus came to do a few other things. He was silent on death. He ran away from death at every turn before Matthew 16, but then in Matthew 16 He gives the keys to Peter and establishes the kingdom. Then immediately after establishing the kingdom, what does He bring up. In Matthew 16:21 it says “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Now you remember back in Genesis, what did the enemy say to Adam “you surely shall not die”. And that is the issue, you are not gonna die. There is an easier way Adam, there is an easier way to get on in life separate from God. Right away when Jesus said to the disciples “I am going to suffer, I am going to die”, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him saying “God forbid it Lord, this shall not happen to you”. And Jesus realising what’s happening here, that he is entering his ordeal as the last Adam and about to enter the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus says to Peter “Get behind me satan, you are a stumbling block to me for you are not setting your mind on Gods interests but mans”. And so Jesus then enters His ordeal when he goes to His garden and there is an uncanny parallel between the Garden of Gethsemane and the first garden of Adam where Jesus enters the garden, and you know the story in Matthew 26 where Jesus underwent tremendous agony in the garden to the point of death. What’s interesting about the story is that in Matthew 26:36-38 it says “Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsem'ane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zeb'edee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." The same wording that we see in the Old Testament ‘keep watch, keep the garden’ Jesus said keep watch with me and then He does what Adam failed to do. He entrusts himself to the Father which is not what Adam did. Adam was filled with pride and he was silent. Then in Matthew 26:39-42 it says: And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done." And that is the difference in the last Adam and the first Adam, Jesus totally entrusted Himself to the Father in doing what the Father asked Him to do. He poured Himself out in complete love, complete offering and He sets the example for us that we can trust the Father even if it there is suffering involved, even if there is pain involved in the redemption of man. We know that Jesus rose from the dead and so we look at His life and we say I may suffer with Him now but I will be glorified with Him later.

The second Adam, Jesus, went into the Garden, was sinless and was also tested. Jesus went to the tree and laid down His life for His bride, the Church.
The Cross becomes the Tree of Life as the Early Church Fathers called it.
In the deep sleep of Adam, from his side came forth Eve.
The second Adam, Jesus, went to the tree and in the deep sleep of death came forth blood and water which represented the waters of Baptism and the blood of the Eucharist as the Early Church Fathers understood it. The blood and water was the sacramental material from which the New Eve, the Church, is formed.

The Two Trees
Adam and Eve were not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden
Eating of the fruit wounded them, it killed them spiritually speaking. It wounded the human race with the poison of sin
The second tree was the Tree of Calvary, upon which Christ hung on the Cross.
And the fruit of that tree, the Tree of Calvary, the Holy Eucharist, is the antidote to the poison that was introduced into the world through Adam and Eve.

In one garden, the Tree of Life brought about death and in another garden the Tree of Death brought about Life.
Eve, the first mother of the living was at the foot of the first Tree and Mary, the second Eve, is at the foot of the second Tree
The Apostle John goes out of his way to inform us that the Cross and the Tomb were in a garden.
For the first Christians, Mary was also seen as the second (or New) Eve, the woman who undoes by her obedience the sin that Eve brought by her disobedience.
The first Eve listened to a fallen angel and succumbed to temptation bringing sin into the world.
Mary listened to an unfallen angel and thus brought about, through Jesus, our redemption.
Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb, and therefore is “bone of (her) bones and flesh of (her) flesh.” We read in Genesis 2:23 Adam exclaim, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”.

What really blew my mind in the midst of all of this was realising that in this Garden of Gethsemane, guess who the bride was? You and I. You and I are standing there and Jesus is rolling up His sleeves and saying “OK I am going to offer myself for you” and now that we’re redeemed He joins us with himself and says walk as I walk, love as I love. We can use your suffering for the redemption of the world also.

Scripture supporting ‘joining our suffering with Jesus’
Collossians 1:24 -
2 Cor 12:9 – thorn in the flesh
2 Cor 4:8-11,14
2 Corinthians 1:5 – We share in Christs suffering

*****
Jesus goes into the garden. Jesus goes to the tree and undoes what Adam did and does what Adam failed to do.
Adam failed to lay down his life for Eve. Jesus says “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his beloved.”
Why would Adam fear death at that stage if he hadn’t sinned, for God said “Eat of the tree and you will die”
Jesus also hadn’t sinned and sweated blood and felt ‘death’ in the garden.
The devil was defeated by Jesus as the devil has the power of death.

Jesus did what Adam failed to do as scripture says “Perfect love casts out fear”
Mother Teresa said once “It is not possible to LOVE GOD except at ones own expense”

Source: (primarily) Jeff Cavins plus Scott Hahn, Steven Ray and Patrick Madrid

Genesis 1:26-27 - Let us make man in our image

SCRIPTURE - Genesis 1:26-27
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

COMMENT

You see an intimacy when you read that God decides to make one creature and only one creature in “Our image after Our likeness”.

God uses that word. When you come to Genesis 1 and 2, you notice God is creating by the power of His Word – “Let there be light, Let there be this and that” and by the shear power of Gods Word everything comes into existence. On Day 6 though, the language changes from “Let there be this and Let there be that” to “Let Us make man in our Image after Our likeness”. Suddenly it’s plural. It’s first person plural.

Theologians can debate why there is a change of language. You know there are various theories as to what that change of language means. Some people suppose that it is the plural of majesty, you know the way kings talk “We decree”. But that doesn’t explain why it wasn’t used before when creating the other things. Others suggest, that perhaps God is speaking to the angels, but once again nothing is mentioned of angels co-creating with God in Genesis. I don’t think the Early Church Fathers were off the mark in seeing in Genesis 1:26-27, a trace, a foreshadowing of something that wouldn’t become really clear until the New Testament.

And that is, when God makes man in their image, in “Our image after Our likeness”, He does it in a very significant way. We read about how God makes man male and female. Now He made dogs and cats with a distinction of gender but the distinction between male and female is only mentioned explicitly when God creates man in our image after our likeness to show us that in God’s plan this distinction between male and female is not merely biological but there is something theological. There is a mystery here planted as a seed that is waiting to unfold in human history.

When we realise that God makes man in the image and likeness of God there is a relational meaning to that. Theologians and philosophers debate what it means to bear the image and likeness of God. We have a rational mind, a free will and all of that is true but for the people who were reading this book, the ancient Israelite readers, would have recognised that the very next occurrence of the phrase “image and likeness” is found in the opening verses of Genesis 5 where we discover that Adam became a father of a son named Seth in his own image and likeness. So there is a concrete relational meaning to what it means for us to bear the image and likeness of God.

God has destined us to be more than just rational creatures. He has destined us. He is calling us to enter into a family bond.
The fact that God makes man male and female suggests something more intimate.

To become all that God has made us to be, we must grow ever more perfectly in his divine image. That means we must give ourselves completely. We grow perfect in the image of God only as we “become Christ”, in communion with Christ and in communion with others, in communion with the Church.


Source: Scott Hahn
Professor of Scripture and Theology at Franciscan University
Book and/or Audio Interview on: First Comes Love

Genesis 2:1-4 - Why does God rest on the seventh day?

SCRIPTURE – Genesis 2:1-4
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

COMMENT

God finished his work of creation by resting on the seventh day.
Why does God rest on the seventh day?
It is not because He needs the rest but because He knows we will need it.

He becomes our Father and we become His children.
Remember our Lord said “the Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath”.
God blessed and made holy the seventh day.

You have to understand God’s purpose for resting.
By sanctifying or making holy, God wants us to set the seventh day apart from the other days.
God uses the seventh day to reveal to Man his ultimate destiny. Man was made on the sixth day along with all the beasts. We work like all of the animals/beasts, but unlike the rest of the animals we have been created with the capacity that is divine. We are able to pray to God, we are able to love God as children love their father.
The sixth day is not enough for us. God knows that we are not made for work but for worship. We are not made to labour or for kingly dominion. We are not made for the earth but for heaven.

The Sabbath is the seventh day and the Hebrew word for “seven” is sheba. Yet sheba stands for not only for a number. Sheba is also a verb, and it means to swear a covenant oath – literally, to “seven oneself”. (see for example Abrahams covenant oath in Gen 21:27-32) The number seven is the unmistakable sign of a covenant. With the seventh day, God was making a covenant with mankind. God took Adam and Eve into His family. God made them His children.

With this shift in relationship comes a corresponding shift in language. In the first chapters of Genesis, we read of God as “Elohim”, a formal name, usually translated into English as “God”. Elohim evokes the divine power in the act of creation. In the second chapter, however – immediately in the wake of the seventh day – God appears as “Yahweh Elohim”, which is usually translated into English as “the Lord God”. “Yahweh” –which only appears after the seventh day, is a personal name, a family name.

God is not just our creator but our Father.

Source: Scott Hahn
Professor of Scripture and Theology at Franciscan University
Book and/or Audio Interview on: First Comes Love

Genesis 2:18 - It is not good that the man should be alone

SCRIPTURE – Genesis 2:18
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him."

COMMENT
After each act of creation, God looked at what He had made and pronounced it “good”. To crown His work, God created man on the sixth day and gave him dominion over all the earth. Only then did God look at His work and declare it “very good”.

Adam lived in a world custom made for his pleasure, a world without sin, suffering, or disease – a world where work was always rewarding, a world that, Genesis tells us, was unstintingly good. Yet God Himself looked upon this situation and, for the first time in the Scriptures, pronounced that something was “not good”. He said “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen 2:18).

What a remarkable statement!

Remember, this took place before the Fall of humankind, before sin and disorder could enter creation. Adam lived in an earthly paradise as a child of God, made in God’s own image. Yet something was “not good”. Something was incomplete. The man was lonely.

Adam’s world seemed complete. He had a good job, a beautiful home, dutiful pets, and plenty to keep him busy. Yet he was incomplete. Even as the ‘image of God’. He was only complete when the woman, Eve, joined him in life. The man and his wife become “one flesh”.

For “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth’ ”.
The image of God was made complete with the creation of the family. Only then was Eden truly paradise.


Source: Scott Hahn
Professor of Scripture and Theology at Franciscan University
Book and/or Audio Interview on: First Comes Love

Genesis 3:9-13 - Why did Adam do it?

SCRIPTURE Genesis 3:9-13
But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I ate."

COMMENT
Why did Adam do it?

The sin that Adam commits is a sin of pride and disobedience.
Why would an upright and unfallen man succumb to pride and disobey a command when he seemed to have everything.

He was the man who had everything!

It was interesting to me in analysing the problem to notice in Judaism there is really no doctrine of original sin, there is really no claim being made to have found the answer the question “Why did he sin?”

They could not grasp the stories ultimate meaning anywhere in the Old Testament. It is revealed only in the life and death of the resurrected Jesus.

It is almost as though we couldn’t understand the question of the Old Covenant and the fall of Adam until the New Covenant came and Jesus as the New Adam did what Adam should have done and undid what Adam did. So Jesus not only cured the illness, He diagnosed it.
Before that it was undiagnosed, a mystery illness.

Adam is in bliss, living in paradise and when he finds Eve he is in a state of marital ecstasy. What more could Adam want?

In a certain sense Adam couldn’t want anything more than that. But the problem is God did!

God created man in a natural paradise but He didn’t create us for it.
He created us for supernatural blessedness with God.
We have the advantage of hindsight, that even though this was earthly paradise, it was penultimate. It was second to last.

It might have been all that Adam would have ever wanted, but God was calling Adam to something more.
Heaven is not Plan B, it was the goal from the beginning that Adam was made for.

It was more than an obediential taste test - a test of “will he or won’t he” eat the apple.
It is really a test of Faith, Hope and Love.


Source: Scott Hahn
Professor of Scripture and Theology at Franciscan University, Steubenville USA
Book and/or Audio Interview on: First Comes Love

Romans 5:12-14 - Adam is a type of Christ

SCRIPTURE Romans 5:12-14
Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned - sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.


COMMENT
In the above verse Paul calls Adam a type of Christ – a foreshadowing of Christ –a dim image that Christ would later perfect and fulfil.

This is an example of typology.
A simple definition for typology is where the stories in the Old Testament and New Testament match.
To illustrate the definition - the Old Testament contains the ‘shadow’ and the New Testament contains the ‘real thing’.
The Old Testament is the ‘negative’ whereas the New Testament is the ‘full colour photo’.
Typology is found throughout the Bible. From the first century to today, typology has been used to better understand God’s Word.
Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) aptly put it “the New Testament is concealed in the Old and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.”

The Two Adams
Unfortunately, by far the best explanation I have ever heard of understanding about what Jesus did in the New Testament by looking at what the first Adam failed to do is a little long (2 pages). So I have decided not to include it. Should anyone want a copy emailed to them just let me know.

Below are two other interesting examples of typology, as it relates to Genesis.

The Two Trees
Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden.
Eating of the fruit wounded them, it killed them spiritually speaking. It wounded the human race with the poison of sin
The second tree was the Tree of Calvary, upon which Christ hung on the Cross.
And the fruit of that tree, the Tree of Calvary, the Holy Eucharist, is the antidote to the poison that was introduced into the world through Adam and Eve.

The word "Eucharist" comes from the Greek noun εὐχαριστία (transliterated, "eucharistia"), meaning thanksgiving. (Definition from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist)


The Two Eve’s
Adam did not act alone, for Eve cooperated substantially in the Fall of man.
In one garden, the Tree of Life brought about death and in another garden the Tree of Death brought about Life.
Eve, the first mother of the living was at the foot of the first Tree and Mary, the New Eve, is at the foot of the second Tree
The Apostle John goes out of his way to inform us that the Cross and the Tomb were in a garden.
For the first Christians, Mary was also seen as the Second or New Eve, the woman who undoes by her obedience the sin that Eve brought by her disobedience.
The first Eve listened to a fallen angel and succumbed to temptation bringing sin into the world.
Mary listened to an unfallen angel and thus brought about, through Jesus, our redemption.
Christ was conceived in Mary’s womb, and therefore is “bone of (her) bones and flesh of (her) flesh.” We read in Genesis 2:23 Adam exclaim, “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”.

Source: Typology observations from Steven Ray and Patrick Madrid
Transcribed from a radio show titled “Typology of the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus”
Additional observations from Scott Hahn

Note: The typological observation in regard to the title New Eve above is not to be confused with the title the Bride of Christ which refers to Us, the Church.

John 1:29 - Behold, the Lamb of God

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world
John 1:29

Commentary
Old crazy John, eating locusts….
The first time that he sees our Blessed Lord as an adult, he goes up to him and he doesn’t say ‘hey, there’s my cousin Jesus, or hey King of Kings, or hey Lion of Judah, no instead he goes up to him and he says ‘Behold the Lamb of God’.

Now that is a powerful Jewish phrase. “The Lamb of God”.

Why, because back in the story of Moses and the Passover story. After the 9 plagues went by and the tenth plague was the death of the first born and in order for the Angel of Death to passover them, the Jews had to do three things.
The first thing they had to do was kill the Lamb.
The second thing they had to do was spread the blood and the third thing they had to do was eat the lamb.
If they did all three of those things then the Angel of Death would pass them over.

Now throughout the Old Testament a lamb has been used to cover the sin of a family so if Mr & Mrs Jones had sins they would take a lamb, take it up to the priest and the priest would sacrifice the lamb for the sins of that family. Now to cover the sins of the whole world we needed a Lamb of God. You see, a lamb of man would cover the sins of just a family but the Lamb of God covered the sins of everyone. And again, the lamb had to be slain, the blood had to be spread and then finally we eat the Lamb.
And it culminates in our celebration of the holy Eucharist at Mass.

This is just one tiny tidbit from the Old Testament of so many things that are foreshadowed in the Old Testament and then fulfilled in the New.

**********
The above commentary is taken from a CD I was listening to of a Jew who came to the conclusion that Jesus IS the Messiah but to better know his roots (his Jewish faith) he studied with a Rabbi at a synagogue to get the whole ‘yentl’ experience prior to joining his first Christian Church – the Pentecostal Church on his journey of faith.

It is finished

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

Commentary
It all started with a Sunday morning service at the local Evangelical church which my wife and I attended during our last year at seminary. The preacher had just finished an exciting sermon on the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. But something he said stuck with me. In the middle of the message, he raised a simple question: "In John 19:30, what did Jesus mean when he cried, 'It is finished'? What does the 'it’ refer to?" Instantly the standard Evangelical answer came to my mind: Jesus’ words signify the completion of our redemption at that moment.

My mind began racing ahead in search of a solution. It only came after graduation, in my first year as a pastor while studying Scripture in preparing a series of sermons on what we Presbyterians called "the Lord’s Supper."

THE FIRST stage of my discovery process came in studying the Old Testament background to Jesus’ Last Supper. The occasion was the Jewish feast of Passover.

The Passover meal was divided into four parts. First, the preliminary course consisted of a festival blessing (kiddush) spoken over the first cup of wine, followed by the serving of a dish of herbs. The second course included a recital of the Passover narrative and the "Little Hallel" (Psalm 113), followed by the drinking of the second cup of wine. The third course was the main meal, consisting of lamb and unleavened bread, after which was drunk the third cup of wine, known as the "cup of blessing." The Passover climaxed with the singing of the "Great Hallel" (Psalms 114-118) and the drinking of the fourth cup of wine.

New Testament scholars see this pattern reflected in the Gospel narratives of the Last Supper. In particular, the cup blessed and distributed by Jesus is identified as the third cup in the Passover Haggadah. This is apparent from the singing of the "Great Hallel" which immediately follows: "And when they had sung a hymn. . . ." (Mark 14:26).

At this point a significant problem arises. Instead of proceeding immediately to the climax of the Passover, the drinking of the fourth cup, we read: "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Mark 14:26). While it may be difficult for Gentile Christians unfamiliar with the Haggadah to perceive the serious disorder this sequence represents, it is not lost to Jewish readers and students of the seder. For them, Jesus skipping the fourth cup could be compared to a priest omitting the words of consecration at Mass. The fundamental purpose or goal of the liturgy seemingly was missed.

Not only is the omission conspicuous, it appears to be underscored by the words of Jesus in the preceding verse: "Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God" (Mark 14:25). It is almost as though Jesus meant not to drink what he was expected to drink.

For one thing, I noticed that my King, Priest, and paschal victim, in his "hour of glory" while suffering on the cross, made a profound gesture: "After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), 'I thirst.'"

More things fall into place upon reading what followed his expression of thirst: "A bowl of sour wine stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth" (19:29). Only John noticed that hyssop was used, the branch prescribed in the Passover law for sprinkling the blood of the lamb (Ex.12:22).

This verse reveals something significant. Jesus had left unfinished the Passover liturgy in the upper room by not drinking the fourth cup. He stated his intention not to drink wine again until he came into the glory of his Kingdom. As we have seen, he refused some on one occasion, right before being nailed to the cross (Mark 15:23). Then, at the very end, Jesus was offered "sour wine" (John 19:30; Matt.27:48; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36). But only John tells us how he responded: "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, 'It is finished'; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (19:30).

AT LAST I had an answer to my question. It was the Passover that was now finished.

**************
Source: The Hunt for the Fourth Cup By Scott Hahn

The Meaning of the Cross

Scripture John 19:17-18

So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol'gotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.

Comment - The Meaning of the Cross

He will bring good out of it for those who trust in Him. This is the meaning of the cross.

The cross is the symbol of the worst thing ever done and the best thing that ever happened.
It is Christ’s victory over death and our promise of eternal salvation.

Because He suffered for us willingly in His life, He has a right to share our sufferings now.
Only the believer can appreciate this.

It will leave others puzzled and confused about what the cross means.

But for the believer the cross stands still and the world turns all around it.

Excerpt from The Cross at Ground Zero
by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.FR.

Triumph of the Cross

Scripture: 1Peter 4:13-14
But rejoice in so far as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

Comment: Triumph of the Cross

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewellery. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome's authority—including the heretic sect which refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine's edict of toleration.
Quote:
"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life" (Theodore of Studios –Constantinople 800AD)

Source: AmericanCatholic.org.

I have come to bring fire to the earth

SCRIPTURE Luke 12:49
I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.

COMMENT
Fire gives forth not only light but also heat.

After being empowered to “make disciples of all nations”, by being baptised “with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16), Spirit filled persons should be supernaturally enlightened so as to enlighten others, but also fired with zeal for their own spiritual growth, striving to “excel in the spiritual gifts [charisms] that build up the Church (1 Cor 14:12).

So important is this charismatic imperative that Paul adds a caveat: “Do not extinguish the Spirits fire” (1 Thess 5:19).

Being blessed with the infilling of the Spirit should make us a blessing to others.

As fire tends to spread, so also does the Spirit’s love-inflaming presence in “those who are his very own” (Titus 2:14)

The Spirit-fire is sanctifying for those who received it, but for it to spread it must also be refuelled or kindled.

Source: Keep The Faith But Not To Yourself
Rev John Hampsch

We should be called children of God

SCRIPTURE 1 John 3:1

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.

COMMENT

I am not talking about the false certitude of salvation that some claim to possess but I am talking about having a basis for salvation. Hope is the assurance that we possess.

When God conferred the dignity of fatherhood on me, he gave me five of the most wonderful kids in the universe.
When He gave those five kids to me, he gave me an additional gift I didn’t know at the time and that is the gift of assurance of true salvation.
I became certain of one thing I can’t possibly love my kids more than God loves his.
And it does me so much good to think about that.
I can’t love my kids more than God loves his and I can’t begin to describe how much I love my kids.

Sometimes though I still have doubts.
Sometimes I still need assurance then I approach the Lord in prayer and say ”But how do I know I am your kid?”
I know abstractly that you love your kids more than I love mine but how do I know I am one of them”.

The Holy Spirit turns that question around and says “Well how do your kids know that they are your kids?”

I reply, that’s easy.
First of all they live in my house.
Second, they are called by my name, they are called Hahn’s.
Third, they sit at my table.
Fourth, they are my flesh and blood
Fifth, my bride (wife Kimberley) is their mother
Sixth, we are always celebrating together (birthdays, anniversaries and vacations); and
Seventh, I discipline them and I don’t discipline the neighbours kids.

Well the Holy Spirit takes those seven points and says “Scott, look into my Word and what do you find?”

You live in my house (Eph 2, Heb 3). The Church that Jesus established, the one worldwide church is God’s household.
You are called by my name Scott, at Baptism – You were called by the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I call you a child and you call God Abba
Third, you sit at my table – the Lord was sitting at the table when he instituted the Eucharist. The Mass is when we gather as God’s family and we sit at His table.
You share my flesh and blood the Lord says to me, because that’s Holy Communion.
My bride is your mother. The Church is the Bride of Christ, but it is Mater Ecclesiae, Mother Church
We are always celebrating together, especially Advent/Christmas, Lent/Easter, feast days, and
Seventh: The Lord disciplines us, not only through our sufferings but especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation.

I don’t give my kids more solid grounds for assurance than God has given His.
God has given us even greater grounds for assurance that we are His beloved children than any parent has ever given his children.

Source: Scott Hahn
Journey Home - jh36

Circumcision in Acts

SCRIPTURE - Act 15:5-12
But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses ."

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.

And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith.

Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."

And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

COMMENT
The early church dispensed Christians with certain ceremonial laws (the yoke) that were a part of the Torah – the Law of Moses.

What’s the yoke?

Some people might say it is the Law of Moses but you can’t say it is the Law of Moses without distinction, because Peter is not saying “Look, we have not been able to resist the temptation of murder or to lie or to commit adultery or to covet and now we are finally free of all of those commandments”.
Hardly! We are not allowed to lie or to steal or to murder or to commit adultery.

So what laws then does Peter speak of when he says this “yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear”.

You may recall in Deuteronomy and all of the additional ceremonies laws that God imposed upon the Israel after the Golden Calf incident because of their idolatry. A sort of penitential discipline that was to last until their hearts were cleansed by faith.

In addition to the Ten Commandments, the simple Law that had been given at Sinai before the Golden Calf, there are all these additional penitential ceremonies added to Israel. These constituted a sort of ceremonial yoke that really isolated and quarantined Israel from the nations because their holiness was much weaker than the sinfulness of the gentiles.

Now that is no longer true. It can be dispensed with.
The coming of the Holy Spirit changed all that.

In the Old Testament if I were to touch a leper, a corpse or a menstruating woman I was unclean.

In the New Testament Jesus comes along and a leper touches him. He is not defiled and the leper was cleansed.
Jesus touches a corpse, He is not defiled and the corpse is raised to life.
Jesus is touched by a menstruating woman, He isn’t defiled and her blood flow stops.

The New Covenant has come with Christ and now the power of holiness greatly exceeds the power of sinfulness.
So all of the walls of isolation and quarantine are torn down.

So Peter is saying in effect “Listen to me. These laws are no longer needed because the Holy Spirit has cleansed our hearts by faith and the Gentiles as well. God has lifted this yoke from us which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear “
and all of the assembly kept silence.

Source: Scott Hahn
Our Fathers Plan Bible Study

Jesus is nailed to the Cross

ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Scripture - Matthew 27:37-42
And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”. Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right hand and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross”. So also the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the Cross and we will believe in him”.
MEDITATION
Jesus is nailed to the Cross. The shroud of Turin gives us an idea of the unbelievable cruelty of this procedure. Jesus does not drink the numbing gall offered to him: he deliberately takes upon himself all the pain of the Crucifixion. His whole body is racked; the words of the Psalm have come to pass: “But I am a worm and no man, scorned by men, rejected by the people” (Ps 22:7). “As one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised... surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:3f.).
Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God. Let us try to see his face in the people we might look down upon.
As we stand before the condemned Lord, who did not use his power to come down from the Cross, but endured its suffering to the end, another thought comes to mind. Ignatius of Antioch, a prisoner in chains for his faith in the Lord, praised the Christians of Smyrna for their invincible faith: he says that they were, so to speak, nailed with flesh and blood to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1). Let us nail ourselves to him, resisting the temptation to stand apart, or to join others in mocking him.
PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, you let yourself be nailed to the Cross, accepting the terrible cruelty of this suffering, the destruction of your body and your dignity. You allowed yourself to be nailed fast; you did not try to escape or to lessen your suffering. May we never flee from what we are called to do. Help us to remain faithful to you. Help us to unmask the false freedom which would distance us from you. Help us to accept your “binding” freedom, and, “bound” fast to you, to discover true freedom.
Source: WAY OF THE CROSS AT THE COLOSSEUM
GOOD FRIDAY 2005
MEDITATIONS AND PRAYERS BY CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER (Pope Benedict XVI)

Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

TENTH STATION - Jesus is Stripped of His Garments and Offered Gall and Vinegar to Drink
Scripture - Matthew 27:34
they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it
Meditation
He did not want a sedative, which would have dulled his consciousness during the agony.
He wanted to be fully aware as he suffered on the Cross, accomplishing the mission he had received from the Father.
That was not what the soldiers in charge of the execution were used to. Since they had to nail the condemned man to the Cross, they tried to dull his senses and his consciousness.
But with Christ this could not be. Jesus knows that his death on the Cross must be a sacrifice of expiation.
This is why he wants to remain alert to the very end.
Without consciousness, he could not, in complete freedom, accept the full measure of suffering.
Behold, he must mount the Cross, in order to offer the sacrifice of the New Covenant.
He is the Priest. By means of his own blood, he must enter the eternal dwelling-places, having accomplished the world’s redemption (cf. Heb 9:12).
Conscience and freedom: these are the essential elements of fully human action.
The world has so many ways of weakening the will and of darkening conscience.
They must be carefully defended from all violence.
Even the legitimate attempt to control pain must always be done with respect for human dignity.
If life and death are to retain their true value, the depths of Christ’s sacrifice must be understood, and we must unite ourselves to that sacrifice if we are to hold firm.

PRAYER
Lord Jesus,
who, with supreme dedication,
accepted death on the Cross for our salvation,
grant to us and to all the world’s people
a share in your sacrifice on the Cross,
so that what we are and what we do
may always be a free and conscious sharing
in your work of salvation.
To you, O Jesus, Priest and Victim,
be honour and glory for ever.
R. Amen.

Source: Meditations and Prayers by Pope John Paul II – Good Friday 2000 at the Colosseum

Simon Helps Jesus Carry his Cross

FIFTH STATION – Simon Helps Jesus Carry his Cross
Scripture
They seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.


Meditation
Via Crucis (the ‘Way’ or ‘Stations’ of the Cross) is a series of meditations reflecting on the journey of Jesus Christ to his Crucifixion at Calvary. Many artists and writers have produced works of art or written thoughts on Via Crucis and, for what it's worth, a contemporary piece, written from the perspective of a journalist present on that Good Friday, is published below.
I thought that was me there.
Jesus was wobbling, and a group of soldiers came towards us and pointed to a man, two away from me.
His name is Simon, a commuter returning to Cyrene, and he was enlisted to help Jesus carry the cross.
I'm not sure how I would have felt if they had asked me.
I don't feel as if I want to carry the cross. It looks too painful and I am, to be honest, scared.
Yet, I want to help Jesus, because this is such a sad incident, and, in a way I feel as if I am every bit as guilty as this dead man walking.

What's more, if I share the pain with Jesus, I will get to know him better.

And not just because my editor would be delighted at scooping this ‘final interview’, but I would learn so much from the experience.
Only by sharing in Jesus' pain can we share in his wonder.

Source: Larne Parish - Ireland

First station – Jesus is Condemned to Death

Meditations on the Stations of the Cross
First station – Jesus is Condemned to Death
Scripture - Mark 15:13-15
And they cried out again, "Crucify him." And Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him." So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab'bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

MEDITATION
Beaten and weary, You are brought before a judge whose power is given to him only by You.
The crowd is asked to choose and, even as You desire otherwise -- yearning for the love of Your people -- You know they will choose the creature over their Creator. "Barabbas" rings out and, with sad heart, You prepare for the grueling way of Calvary that started before Your birth. Innocent, you are condemned to death, betrayed by those who claim to love You and those who claim to be upholding Your truth even as they pass judgment.

The crowd clamors for Your blood, not realizing that it is only through Your blood that they will live.
It is a great irony.
We think that by ridding ourselves of You, we will be free.
And You give us what we wish -- freedom -- using even our evil to raise us up to You, if we will only see and accept.
How different is the choice for man or God. In choosing man we choose death. In choosing You, you use our death to lift us to life in You.

Pilate washes his hands of guilt, and, in doing so, washes his hands of you. Evading the truth of his guilt means rejecting you.

We cannot be Yours if we do not admit what we are, sinners in need of mercy.
Source: Meditations on the Stations of the Cross
http://www.feastofsaints.com/viacrucis.htm