Tuesday, March 25, 2008

There Can Be No Resurrection Without a Crucifixion

Cross Posted from A Newt One with gracious permission from Sonlit Knight.


"Eloi, Eloi Lama Sabachtani" Those are the words my Lord cried out in anguish, from the Cross. "My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?"
The words reverberated through time and space, for they were words cried out to God, from God. This is not contradiction, this is paradox. For in this solemn and sacred mystery is the very meaning of life.

The passion and death of Our Lord is the defining and central theme to all of the fallen age of man. So much so His words ring out in the Prophetic words of the Psalmist. It's Psalm 22- the one just before the one everybody knows.

Here is part of it....

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but thou dost not answer; and by night, but find no rest.

Yet thou art holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In thee our fathers trusted; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. To thee they cried, and were saved; in thee they trusted, and were not disappointed. But I am a worm, and no man; scorned by men, and despised by the people.

All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads;

"He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!" Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother's breasts.

Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.

The Sorrowful Mysteries are 5 particular events drawn from the narrative of Christ's Passion, that make up part of a Catholic devotional known as the Rosary. In praying the Rosary's Sorrowful Mysteries, Catholics attempt to meditate on and delve into the depth of these sacred and sorrowful events and what they mean to believers.

I believe that many pious Christians have not truly contemplated the deeper purpose of Christ's suffering and death and as a consequence come to a distorted interpretation of life, suffering, death and salvation.

Many good and decent people believe that Christ died to give you salvation, like someone might give you a candy bar. He did not. Salvation is indeed a free gift; you cannot earn or merit. However, it is not a singular act but a process with which you must cooperate. Again, this is not contradiction, this is paradox. If you doubt that a profession of faith alone is insufficient for salvation you need only read the admonishing words of James (Chapter 2), wherein he says:

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, [16] and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? [17] So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

[18] But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. [19] You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder.

[20] Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?

[21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? [22] You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, [23] and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. [24] You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

This is very difficult to grasp but I admonish you to persist. For in the unraveling of this mystery is the very secret of the meaning of salvation and life. It is a very tough nut to crack, this apparent contradiction between salvation by faith and salvation by works. For as clearly as James appears to come down on one side, Paul appears to come down on the other...
Ephesians 2

[5] even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), [6] and raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] that in the coming ages He might show
the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God -- [9] not because of works, lest any man should boast.
Once again, paradox is at work. For though it was Moses' staff that turned the Nile red with blood, it was not Moses who did it. Though it was Trumpets of Joshua's band that brought down the walls of Jericho, it is not Joshua who did it. Though the Virgin Mary brought forth the I Am Himself, it was not by Mary's doing that this miracle was brought forth.

So what of these sorrowful mysteries I mentioned? In them is found the answer. For if salvation is of faith through works, how can anyone be saved? When the disciples asked this very question.....

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible,
but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26
Jesus excels at making the impossible possible.....even putting salvation within the reach of sinful men. For a human being cannot achieve salvation by human acts, only by Divine acts. How can a human being accomplish Divine acts??? He can only do so because He who was both human and Divine, sanctified the human act and made it Divine.

Jesus was not baptised because He needed to be. He was baptised to take a human act- being immersed in water- and attaching a Divine action to it. Now, through Baptism, we can receive sanctifying Grace. Before, you would only get wet.

Jesus did not pray the Our Father merely because it sounded good. By simply voicing it, it became the Word of God. All throughout the New Testament, we see evidence of purely human actions that now have Divine value.

Here are but a few....
Matthew 10:42
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because
he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward."

Luke 24:50
When He had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, He lifted up his hands and blessed them.

Acts 8:17
Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 26-29
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is My body." 27 Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is My blood of the [b] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father's kingdom."
Time after time, what appear to be simple human acts performed by human beings have a supernatural component fused to them because these acts were sanctified and made holy by the God-Man.

The Bible tells us that He was like us in all things except sin. Why? Have you ever thought about this? Did God, the Omniscient One, need to experience life as a human being to understand it? Hardly.

Then why? Why did Jesus need to come to us, be baptised, work, learn, teach, pray, fast, minister, empathize, experience fear and rejection and grief and suffer and die a horrible death? Did He do all these things so that we would not have to?

Not so! The Bible definately does not teach that. In fact, it teaches the opposite!

For, while Jesus was baptised, learned, taught, prayed, fasted, ministered, empathized, experienced fear and rejection and grief and suffered and died, He admonished each and every one of us that we would-to greater or lessor degree- experience each of these things.

This is where the so-called "prosperity gospel" preachers get it so wrong. "Follow Jesus" they say, "and you will know only joy and peace".

Jesus promised something very different. Jesus promised that the price of following Him was a Cross that you would have to carry. Jesus promised that you would be hated and reviled by mankind and that you would have to live a life that shunned the pleasures of this world. In short, Jesus promised that suffering would come to those who believed and that only those who endured to the end would be saved.

Well....that doesn't sound like much fun! It certainly is difficult to reconcile with the idea of a God who came to earth to suffer and die, as a free gift of salvation. It almost sounds like a contradiction. It almost sounds like God is going back on His word. It almost sounds like God is cruel. Why would God desire the very followers He Redeemed at an incalculable price and who accepted Him, suffer needlessly at the hands of the very ones who rejected Him?

To understand, you must re-orient your thinking and understanding of who Jesus was and what He did for you. He did not suffer so that you would not have to suffer. For if He did some very special people to me were seriously short changed. Jesus again did not suffer for the purpose of eliminating suffering from your life.

Jesus suffered to sanctify suffering itself and make it holy so that even that which the devil intends for evil can be used for good. Once again, the sheer depth of God is explored within the mystery of paradox. For it is right and just and logical that we would attempt to avoid suffering
, yet suffering, if it must come, is not in vain. For even that which hurts us, can help us.

Is it God's will that we suffer? hardly. It's the devil's will. The passion of Christ and the five sacred mysteries that explore it teach us the very thing Satan uses to destroy you can be used by God to save you.

This is the answer, to that age-old question of why God sometimes allows (passive) horrible things to happen to people. This is the question that I have wrestled with every bit as much as you. For I have seen unimaginable evil in my life on both the public and private level and cried out those words......
"My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me!?"

The same words. Listen to me. The same words King David cried out. The same words the Savior cried out. For God in His unfathomable mercy experienced the perception of His own rejection and the sorrow of isolation even as He saw all and knew all.

The inexpressible mystery of paradox.

Jesus did not forsake you, little one, though it seems so painfully clear that He did. Where was He in your suffering? Right in the middle of it.

When you pleaded with God to protect you from the thing you were so fearful of, He was on His knees in the Garden of Gethsemane sweating blood and pleading that the cup be taken from Him.

While you were being taunted and ridiculed and made to feel small, insignificant and worthless, He was before the tribunal of Pilate being spit upon, kicked, mocked and crowned with thorns.

While you suffered horrible pain unjustly, He was there, being scourged and crucified.

As you have gone through life carrying a burden, He was carrying His cross.

Many believers don't want to talk of these things, preferring to concentrate only on the Resurrection.

Many of my Christian friends point out (and rightly so) the suffering and death is completely powerless without the Resurrection. Point conceded.

Do not forget, however, what magnifies the Light and power of the Resurrection is the sheer darkness from which it rose. The disciples had placed all their faith in a Savior only to watch him arrested for crimes He wasn't capable of committing, subjected to a gruesome, horrific torture and murder and laid in a tomb.

Everything they believed was destroyed, everything they hoped for was obliterated...or so they thought.

The power of the Resurrection is even the most horrible darkness can be followed by the Light of the Son. This life will eventually bring misery and death to each of us. For every possession you have will be lost and every relationship you have will be brought to an end. No level of power or money can buy you another second when the Angel of Death comes to call upon you.

This is just reality. Do not despair. Do not give up. For those who have accumulated great fortune in this world, age and death are only that much more painful a separation.

Do not assume the suffering that has been visited upon you means God doesn't love you.

Remember, you cannot have a Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Does this mean that you must be crucified? Heavens no!

It means that you must take up your cross (Matthew 10:38) and unite your sufferings with His (Colossians 1:24). How do you do so? Very simply-by saying and embracing those 4 difficult and powerful words: Thy will be done.

and remembering the sorrow of Friday is fleeting; the Joy of Sunday is everlasting.

Happy Easter!

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My Favorite Speeches and Other Items of Interest

  • George Bush's March 28, 2007 Discusses Economy, War on Terror During Remarks to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association;http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070328-2.html
  • Mitch McConnell's March 15, 2007 Funding For Troops, Not Timelines for Retreat; http://mcconnell.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=270747&start=1
  • Ronald Reagan's June 12, 1987 Tear Down This Wall Speech; http://www.reaganfoundation.org/reagan/speeches/wall.asp
  • Vice President Cheney's March 12, 2007 Remarks at the AIPAC 2007 Policy Conference; http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/03/20070312.html

Winston Churchill Quotes

  • A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him.
  • Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.
  • Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed.
  • Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.
  • Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter.
  • Danger - if you meet it promptly and without flinching - you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!
  • I always seem to get inspiration and renewed vitality by contact with this great novel land of yours which sticks up out of the Atlantic.
  • I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.
  • I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
  • I like a man who grins when he fights.
  • I was only the servant of my country and had I, at any moment, failed to express her unflinching resolve to fight and conquer, I should at once have been rightly cast aside.
  • If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack.
  • In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.
  • It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
  • Moral of the Work. In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill.
  • Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
  • Never, never, never give up.
  • No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.
  • One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!
  • Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
  • Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
  • The first quality that is needed is audacity.
  • The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go.
  • The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.
  • There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.
  • These are not dark days: these are great days - the greatest days our country has ever lived.
  • They are decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.
  • True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
  • Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
  • War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can't smile, grin. If you can't grin, keep out of the way till you can.
  • War is mainly a catalogue of blunders.
  • We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
  • We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.
  • When the eagles are silent the parrots begin to jabber.
  • When you are winning a war almost everything that happens can be claimed to be right and wise.
  • You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Ronald Reagan Quotes

  • "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant: It's just that they know so much that isn't so."
  • Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have.
  • All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.
  • Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let's not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources
  • Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
  • Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.
  • Double, no triple, our troubles and we'd still be better off than any other people on earth. It is time that we recognized that ours was, in truth, a noble cause.
  • Facts are stupid things.
  • Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
  • Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.
  • Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.
  • Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.
  • History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.
  • How can a president not be an actor?
  • How do you tell a communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.
  • I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US Congress.
  • I will stand on, and continue to use, the figures I have used, because I believe they are correct. Now, I'm not going to deny that you don't now and then slip up on something; no one bats a thousand.
  • In Israel, free men and women are every day demonstrating the power of courage and faith. Back in 1948 when Israel was founded, pundits claimed the new country could never survive. Today, no one questions that. Israel is a land of stability and democracy in a region of tryanny and unrest.
  • Let us ask ourselves; "What kind of people do we think we are?".
  • Man is not free unless government is limited.
  • My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose - somehow we win out.
  • No mother would ever willingly sacrifice her sons for territorial gain, for economic advantage, for ideology.
  • Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.
  • Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act.
  • Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.
  • Some people wonder all their lives if they've made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem.
  • The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas - a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.
  • The United Sates has much to offer the third world war.
  • There are no easy answers' but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.
  • To paraphrase Winston Churchill, I did not take the oath I have just taken with the intention of presiding over the dissolution of the world's strongest economy.
  • Today we did what we had to do. They counted on America to be passive. They counted wrong.
  • We are never defeated unless we give up on God.
  • We have the duty to protect the life of an unborn child.
  • We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.
  • We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free.
  • Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.
  • You know, if I listened to Michael Dukakis long enough, I would be convinced we're in an economic downturn and people are homeless and going without food and medical attention and that we've got to do something about the unemployed.

Eleanor Roosevelt Quotes

  • No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

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