Monthly Archives: July, 2005

Secret Burial

main point

The burial and its preparations. I think there are two main points here. One — Jesus really is dead. Two — this work was done in secret. It might also be pointed out that the two disciples who did this did not expect a resurrection – or at least not a resurrection in three days — they prepared him in traditional manner – which included balms to keep the stench down.

new light

Both disciples involved — Joseph and Nicodemus — work in secret and are themselves secret disciples. This ain’t Peter and James. Is John maybe trying to say something about the faithfulness and devotion of secret Christians?

truth

Not sure what true to my experience might mean here.

There are in every church and every Quaker meeting folks who run the show — are big time “weighty Friends” — for whom doing the work is an important part of their sense of who they are and also a big part of their public persona.

What about the quiet folks who don’t say much don’t seem to do much? Maybe they are as faithful in their own way — maybe at times more faithful — in times and places we never see.

implications

But when you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6

problems

no troubles

image above is William Blake’s Entombment btw — just thought Larry would like to know

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John 19:38-42

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Jesus’ side is pierced / C

… one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.

*** Warning – heavy duty Catholic stuff coming up 🙂 ***

Not being a cradle Catholic, I was unaware of the significance of this line of the passage to many Catholics … the devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. From the early days of the church, this passage has had significance.

Augustine wrote …

“The second Adam with bowed head slept on the cross, in order that a spouse might be formed for Him from that which flowed from His side as He slept. Death, by which the dead come to life again! What could be more cleansing than His blood? What more healing than this wound?” (Treatise on John, IX, 10).

John Chrysostom also commented …

“Blood and water at once flowed out of the wound. It is not by mere chance or unwittingly that these two fountains sprang up at this juncture. It is because blood and water are two constitutive elements of the Church. Those already admitted to the sacred rites know this well; those, I mean, who have been regenerated in the waters of Baptism and who in the Eucharist feed on Christ�s flesh and blood. It is to this one source that all the Christian mysteries trace back their origin. And so when you apply your lips to this awesome cup, do it as though you drank that precious Blood from the open side of Christ Himself” (Homily on John, 85).

In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales gives the foundation of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

“God’s love is seated within the Savior’s Heart as on a royal throne. He beholds through the cleft of His pierced side all the hearts of the children of men. His Heart is King of Hearts, and He keeps His eyes fixed on our hearts. Just as those who peer through a lattice see clearly while they themselves are only half seen, so too the divine love within that Heart, or rather that Heart of divine love, always sees our hearts and looks on them with His eyes of love, while we do not see Him, but half see Him. If we could see Him as He is, O God, since we are mortal men we would die for love of Him, just as when He was in mortal flesh He died for us, and just as He would still die for us were He not now immortal” (Quoted in Heart of the Redeemer, p.118).

The most well-known example of the devotion of the Sacred Heart is that of the apparitions of Margaret Mary Alacoque, occurring between 1673 and 1675, in which Jesus, among other things, revealed the image of his sacred heart that’s depicted in statues, paintings and icons: His pierced heart, on fire with love, crowned with the cross and enfolded with the crown of thorns.

Jesus Always in Control

If Jesus had the sort of superhuman command of the events leading to his death that John wants him to have — then it wasn’t a real death was it?

In death we lose the last pretence of controlling our lives. It is humiliation. Its is a stripping away of the last bits of who we are or try to be in this world.

By painting a Jesus with this much command John has given us a Jesus who is not human and who really could not have tasted death. The death becomes irrelevant in a way.

It is finished (John 19:30) (L)

“When Jesus had received the wine, he said, It is finished. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” The first thing that comes to my mind here is that Jesus’ death was an act of will. (I’ve known other people who chose to die at a certain point, and did.)

Pursuing this idea Jesus might also have gone on living if he had chosen to. The fact that they put him to death was with his consent, and otherwise they couldn’t have.

When Peter struck off the ear of the servant of the high priest Jesus said, “Matt 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?”

And remember also what he said immediately before: “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (This makes me tremble for our country.)

Recall also in Luke’s version that “22:51 …. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”

Looking also at Matthew’s version of Jesus’ last moment we read:
27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The veil of the temple represented the separation of God from most of us; the high priest was supposed to enter the Holy of Holies once a year. When Jesus completed his mission to us, it ended that separation between God and man. This is at least part of the reason that Quakers don’t have priests; we have direct access. (Wow! I just noticed “and the earth did quake”. Indeed!)

John 19:31-37 Jesus’ Side is Pierced

Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” (not sure on the scriptures for this) And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10)

Why is Jesus’ death meaningful?

That’s a good subject for everyone’s exploration. Crystal has given a very good reason in her comment to her last post here; God did a great thing for her by exposing her to it preparatory for her experience being present at a love one’s death.

Another reason comes to mind from the memory of a new convert’s reaction; he was a primtive African, and when he saw the terrible scene, he said “away from there, Jesus; that’s my place.” (That memory never fails to move me intensely.)

As a basis for our salvation I have to remind you of my friend Ted Clark, returning to the seminary faculty with his new book, Saved by his Life (that was aeons ago).

The Bible states we are saved by his life (see Romans 5:10).

It would be worthwhile to review David’s blog touching on this subject, with many comments.

Jesus’ life (and death) is a pattern for commited Christians. The lessons he has for us in the gospels are valuable clues to point toward appropriate behaviour under any circumstance. He chose to expose himself to the wrath of powerful enemies, and he paid the price.

That has certainly been a clue for the thousands of Christians, up to and including today who followed a similar path. But even for those of us who may be too (what?) to chose that path, his doing it must certainly inspire us to commit ourselves perhaps a bit more intently than we did in the past.

We are all scheduled for a cross. I guess which one we choose is our own choice.

on the lighter side

just because this scripture study is getting way to serious . . .

The Crucifixion / C

main point
The main thing that strikes me about John’s version of the crucifixion is the lack of angst. Jesus is portrayed as being always in control of the situation … no emphasis on the emotional or physical suffering, he even carries his own cross without help … Jesus is not a victim here.

new light
I hadn’t noticed before, but Jesus’ mother is never mentioned by name in John’s gospel, just as the beloved disciple is not … some say this is so Mary and John can be symbols of the new church continuing after Jesus’ death.

truth
I think I don’t so much like this gospel’s portrayal of the “passion” as it seems not true to experience … I think there would have been a fair amount of fear, pain and despair.

implications
The implications of this passage are many and I’m not sure I even understand them all. Here’s something I wrote about it for my blog last Easter … Some people might wonder why the retreat is focusing so on this violent brutal end of Jesus’ life. After all, he preached for three years but hung on the cross for only three hours. I’m not sure how to answer this, but I believe that contemplating Jesus’ torture and death wasa good thing for me, though hard, and I’m not even doing it correctly. This week and the next are meant to be “consoling” in a way I’ve not yet discovered, but still I would not have missed the experience. When I took this retreat three years ago, my mom, who I lived with, was dying of lung cancer. It was an awful experience but looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the world. The retreat says that to be with a loved one when they suffer and die is a gift …. I guess I’m trying to open that gift.

problems
The problem of trying to bring good out of something horrible.

John 19: 16b-30 Crucifixion of Jesus

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it. This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

They divided my clothes among themselves
and for my clothing they cast lots.

(Psalm 22:18 if you’re curious)

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, Woman, here is your son. Then he said to the disciple, Here is your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), I am thirsty. (Psalm 69:21) A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, It is finished. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.