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Thread: Easter Week Reflections

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traddles View Post
    Palm Sunday Meditation

    So Palm Sunday is a grace note of triumph leading into a symphony of pain, for Jesus in the near term, and for the Jewish people in the long term. Yet, from another perspective, that grace note led off a triumphal concert lasting into eternity.
    While the times and conditions during the life of Christ are pertinent, no more so than what is conveyed. The Easter season is truly about being restored from death to life. A new life. An eternal life. His sacrifice on the cross and victory over death shows us the path.

    Jesus said, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life.

    Man was created by GOD. He did this by speaking the word.

    Words like belief, eternal and life matter for all is created by the word. We believe something and we speak the word to make it so. We control what is created in this world and God controls us. It's a good thing to be on God's side.

    We see eternal life all around us every spring proving God's word. Remove the scales and see all that life has to offer.

    Welcome to a new life, an eternal life.

    Enjoy your spring folks!!
    Last edited by DeadEye; 04-17-2019 at 04:21 AM.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Calypso Jones View Post
    If I may....very interesting article regarding Herod and the Slaughter of the Innocents.


    http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post...y-Fiction.aspx

    Excerpt In the December 2008 issue of National Geographic there was a well illustrated article on the recent excavations at the Herodian. This was the final burial place of Herod the Great, located 5 ˝ kilometers southeast of Bethlehem as the angels fly. In the article, the author made this bold statement, reflecting current historical and theological understanding: “Herod is best known for slaughtering every male infant in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus. He is almost certainly innocent of this crime” (Mueller 2008:42). Was Herod the Great really innocent of this crime, or did this criminal act actually happen? Continue reading




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    In the December 2008 issue of National Geographic there was a well illustrated article on the recent excavations at the Herodian. This was the final burial place of Herod the Great, located 5 ˝ kilometers southeast of Bethlehem as the angels fly. In the article, the author made this bold statement, reflecting current historical and theological understanding: “Herod is best known for slaughtering every male infant in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus. He is almost certainly innocent of this crime” (Mueller 2008:42). Was Herod the Great really innocent of this crime, or did this criminal act actually happen?
    Michael Grant, a popular writer on historical themes says of the Massacre of the Innocents: “The tale is not history but myth or folk-lore” (1971:12). He went on to say, Herod became known as “Herod the Wicked, villain of many a legend, including the Massacre of the Innocents: the story is invented, though it is based, in one respect, on what is likely to be a historical fact, since Jesus Christ was probably born in one of the last years of Herod’s reign” (1971:228-229). Elsewhere he says, “Matthew’s story of the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod the Great, because he was afraid of a child born in Bethlehem ‘to be King of the Jews’, is a myth allegedly fulfilling a prophecy by Jeremiah and mirroring history’s judgment of the great but evil potentate Herod, arising from many savage acts during the last years before his death in 4 BC” (1999:71). Was the slaughter of the innocents a tale, myth, folk-lore, or legend? Or was it a historical event?

    Unfortunately archaeologists have yet to excavate the archives of the Jerusalem Post from the year 4 BC! Nor does the first century AD Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus record this event in any of his writings. Even though secular history is silent on this event it does not mean it did not occur. When the life of Herod the Great is examined, this event is very consistent with his character and actions so this is pointing to the fact that it did happen as recorded in Holy Scripture.
    The Gospel of Matthew records the event in this manner: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more’” (2:16-18, NKJV).
    Herod’s Paranoia
    In 1988 I was attending a lecture at the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies by Dr. Isaiah Gafni, a leading authority on the Second Temple period at the Hebrew University. His topic was the life of Herod the Great. Sitting next to me was Dr. Bruce Narramore, a Christian psychologist from Biola University.
    Dr. Gafni recounted a seminar that was held at Hebrew University a few years before. Attending it were historians and archaeologists of the Second Temple period as well as psychiatrists and psychologists. They laid out (figuratively speaking) Herod the Great on the psychiatric couch and preceded to psychoanalyze him. The historians explained a recurring pattern in the life of Herod. He would hear a rumor that somebody was going to bump him off and take over his throne, but Herod would kill that person first. He would then go into depression. After awhile he would come out of his depression and would build, build, build. He would hear another rumor and would kill that person, then go into another depression. After awhile he would come out of this depression and would build, build, build. This cycle repeated itself a number of times in which numerous people were killed, including one of his ten wives as well as three of his sons! The shrinks diagnosed Herod the Great as a paranoid schizophrenic.
    After the lecture I turned to Dr. Narramore and asked his analysis of Herod: “Well, do you think he was a paranoid schizophrenic?” Bruce laughed and said, “No, he was a jerk!” [That is a direct quote!]. Recently a historical / psychological analysis was done on Herod the Great and he was diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder (Kasher and Witztum 2007:431).

    The Historical Plausibility of the Slaughter of the Innocents
    It is true; Josephus does not record the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. He does, however, record a number of ruthless murders by Herod in order to keep his throne secure.
    Herod was crowned “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate in 40 BC in Rome. He was, however, a king without a kingdom. Upon his return to the Land of Israel, he was given a Roman army and was eventually able to capture Jerusalem. The first order of business was to eliminate his Hasmonean predecessors. Mattathias Antigonus was executed with the help of Mark Antony and Herod killed 45 leading men of Antigonus’ party in 37 BC (Antiquities 15:5-10; LCL 8:5-7). He had the elderly John Hyrcanus II strangled over an alleged plot to overthrow Herod in 30 BC (Antiquities 15:173-178; LCL 8:83-85).
    Herod continued to purge the Hasmonean family. He eliminated his brother-in-law, Aristobulus, who was at the time an 18 year old High Priest. He was drowned in 35 BC by Herod’s men in the swimming pool of the winter palace in Jericho because Herod thought the Romans would favor Aristobulus as ruler of Judea instead of him (Antiquities 15:50-56; LCL 8:25-29; Netzer 2001:21-25). He also had his Hasmonean mother-in-law, Alexandra (the mother of Mariamme) executed in 28 BC (Antiquities 15:247-251; LCL 8:117-119). He even killed his second wife Miriamme in 29 BC. She was his beloved Hasmonean bride whom he loved to death [literally, no pun intended] (Antiquities 15:222-236; LCL 8:107-113).
    Around 20 BC, Herod remitted one third of the people’s taxes in order to curry favor with them, however, he did set up an internal spy network and eliminated people suspected of revolt, most being taken to Hyrcania, a fortress in the Judean Desert (Antiquities 15:365-372; LCL 8:177-181).

    Herod also had three of his sons killed. The first two, Alexander and Aristobulus, the sons of Mariamme, were strangled in Sebaste (Samaria) in 7 BC and buried at the Alexandrium (Antiquities 16:392-394; LCL 8:365-367; Netzer 2001:68-70). The last, only five days before Herod’s own death, was Antipater who was buried without ceremony at Hyrcania (Antiquities 17:182-187; LCL 8:457-459; Netzer 2001:75; Gutfeld 2006:46-61).
    Herod the Great became extremely paranoid during the last four years of his life (8-4 BC). On one occasion, in 7 BC, he had 300 military leaders executed (Antiquities 16:393-394; LCL 8:365). On another, he had a number of Pharisees executed in the same year after it was revealed that they predicted to Pheroras’ wife [Pheroras was Herod’s youngest brother and tetrarch of Perea] “that by God’s decree Herod’s throne would be taken from him, both from himself and his descendents, and the royal power would fall to her and Pheroras and to any children they might have” (Antiquities 17:42-45; LCL 8:393). With prophecies like these circulating within his kingdom, is it any wonder Herod wanted to eliminate Jesus when the wise men revealed the new “king of the Jews” had been born (Matt. 2:1-2)?! (For a full discussion of these historical events, see France 1979 and Maier 1998).
    Macrobius (ca. AD 400), one of the last pagan writers in Rome, in his book Saturnalia, wrote: “When it was heard that, as part of the slaughter of boys up to two years old, Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered his own son to be killed, he [the Emperor Augustus] remarked, ‘It is better to be Herod’s pig [Gr. hys] than his son’ [Gr. huios]” (2.4.11; cited in Brown 1993:226). Macrobius may have gotten some of his historical facts garbled, but he could have given us a chronological key as well. If he was referring to the death of Antipater in 4 BC, the slaughter of the Innocents would have been one of the last, if not the last, brutal killings of Herod before he died. What is also interesting is the word-play in the quote attributed to Augustus- “pig” and “son” are similar sounding words in Greek. Herod would not kill a pig because he kept kosher, at least among the Jews; yet he had no qualms killing his own sons!
    Why did Josephus not record this event?
    There are several possible explanations as to why Josephus did not record this event. First, Josephus, writing at the end of the first century AD may not have been aware of the slaughter in Bethlehem at the end of the first century BC. There were some pivotal events in the first century AD that Josephus does not record. For example, the episode of the golden Roman shields in Jerusalem which was the cause of the bad blood between Herod Antipas and Pontus Pilate (cf. Luke 23:12). It was the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria that recorded this event (Embassy to Gaius 38:299-305; Maier 1969:109-121). It should also be pointed out that Josephus got some of his information from Nicolas of Damascus who was Herod the Greats friend and personal historian. Nicolas may not have recorded such a terrible deed so as not to blacken the reputation of his friend any more than he had too (Brown 1993:226, footnote 34).
    Second, the massacre might not have been as large as later church history records. The Martyrdom of Matthew states that 3,000 baby were slaughtered. The Byzantine liturgy places the number at 14,000 and the Syrian tradition says 64,000 innocent children were killed (Brown 1993:205). Yet Professor William F. Albright, the dean of American archaeology in the Holy Land, estimates that the population of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth to be about 300 people (Albright and Mann 1971:19). The number of male children, two years old or younger, would be about six or seven (Maier 1998:178, footnote 25). This would hardly be a newsworthy event in light of what else was going on at the time. Please do not get me wrong, one innocent child being killed is a horrific tragedy.

    Based on the date of Jesus’ birth provided by Clement of Alexandria (ca. 200 AD), Jesus would have been born on May 14, 6 BC (Faulstich 1998:109-112). The wise men from the east do not arrive in Jerusalem to visit Herod and then go on to Bethlehem until at least 50 days after the birth of the Lord Jesus, but more than likely a year to a year and a half later. When Mary performed the ritual of purification for her firstborn in the Temple she offered two turtledoves, the offering of the poor (Luke 2:22-24; cf. Lev. 12:8). If the wise men had already arrived with their gold, frankincense and myrrh, Mary would have been obligated to offer a lamb and would have had the means to do so (Lev. 12:6). Herod inquired of the wise men when the star first appeared and instructed them to go and find the “King of the Jews” and return and tell him so he could go and worship the young Child as well (Matt. 2:7-9). Herod realized he was tricked when the wise men returned home another way after they were warned in a dream of Herod’s evil intentions (2:12). Herod calculated the age of the young Child based on the testimony of the wise men as to when the star first appeared. He ordered the killing of all male children in Bethlehem and its immediate vicinity who were two years old and younger (2:16). Herod dies in March of 4 BC, just under two years from the birth of Jesus.

    Right before he dies, Herod realizes nobody will mourn for him at his death. He hatched a diabolical scheme to make sure everybody will morn at his death, even if it was not for him. He ordered all the notable Jews from all parts of his kingdom to come to him in Jericho under penalty of death. He placed them in the hippodrome of Jericho and left instructions for the soldiers to kill all the notables upon his death (Antiquities 17:174-181; LCL 8:451-455; Netzer 2001:64-67). Fortunately, after the death of Herod, his sister Salome countermanded the order and released the Jewish leaders. Ironically, Herod died on the Feast of Purim and there was much rejoicing at the death of Herod the Wicked (cf. Esther 8:15-17; Faulstich 1998:110)!
    Five days before he died, Herod executed his oldest son Antipater (Antiquities 17:187; LCL 8:457-459). During that time period he also executed, by burning alive, two leading rabbis and then executed their students for participating in the “eagle affair” in the Temple (Antiquities 17:149-167; LCL 8:439-449; Wars 1:655; LCL 2:311).
    Paul L. Maier has pointed out, “Josephus wrote for a Greco-Roman audience, which would have little concern for infant deaths. Greeks regularly practiced infanticide as a kind of birth control, particularly in Sparta, while the Roman father had the right not to lift his baby off the floor after birth, letting it die” (1998:179).
    Josephus, even if he knew of the slaughter of the innocents, would have deemed this episode unimportant in light of all the other monumental events going on at the time of the death of Herod the Great, thus not including it in his writings.
    Conclusions
    The slaughter of the innocents is unattested in secular records, but the historical plausibility of this event happening is consistent with the character and actions of Herod the Great. Besides killing his enemies, he had no qualms in killing family members and friends as well. Herod would not have given a second thought about killing a handful of babies in a small, obscure village south of Jerusalem in order to keep his throne secure for himself, or his sons, even if it was one of the last dastardly deeds he committed before he died. As Herod lay dying, raked in pain and agony, the men of God and those with special wisdom opined that Herod was suffering these things because it was “the penalty that God was exacting of the king for his great impiety” (Antiquities 17:170; LCL 8:449-451).

    Bibliography
    Albright, William; and C. S. Mann
    1971 The Anchor Bible. Matthew. New York: Doubleday.

    Brown, Raymond
    1993 The Birth of the Messiah. A Commentary on the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. New York: Doubleday.

    Faulstich, Eugene
    1998 Studies in O.T. and N.T. Chronology. Pp. 97-117 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II. Edited by E. J. Vardaman. Macon, GA: Mercer University.

    France, Richard
    1979 Herod and the Children of Bethlehem. Novum Testamentum 31/2:98-120.

    Grant, Michael
    1971 Herod the Great. New York: American Heritage.
    1999 Jesus. London: Phoenix.
    Gutfeld, Oren
    2006 Hyrcania’s Mysterious Tunnels. Searching for the Treasures of the Copper Scrolls. Biblical Archaeology Review 32/5:46-61.

    Josephus
    1976 Jewish Wars, Books 1-3. Vol. 2. Trans. by H. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 203.
    1980 Antiquities of the Jews 15-17. Vol. 8. Trans. by R. Marcus and A. Wikgren. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 410.
    Kasher, Aryeh; with Witztum, Eliezer
    2007 King Herod: A Persecuted Persecutor. Trans. by K. Gold. Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter.

    Maier, Paul
    1969 The Episode of the Golden Roman Shields in Jerusalem. Harvard Theological Review 62:109-121.
    1998 Herod and the Infants of Bethlehem. Pp. 169-189 in Chronos, Kairos, Christos II. Edited by E. J. Vardaman. Macon, GA: Mercer University.
    Mueller, Tom
    2008 Herod. The Holy Land’s Visionary Builder. National Geographic 214/6:34-59.

    Netzer, Ehud
    2001 The Palaces of the Hasmoneans and Herod the Great. Jerusalem: Yad Ben-Zvi Institute and Israel Exploration Society.
    I just realized one of the the things I admire about you and a few others here and that is you post the word for all to see. Yawl understand the word and it's power. The scales have been removed from your eyes.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Traddles View Post
    Great. Quote, with chapter-and-verse, where the Bible proves that the Latin and Greek words for Easter derive from Ishtar rather the Hebrew "Pesach", Passover. If you can't do that you just have the word of Alexander Hislop or Charles T.
    Russell or ??.


    One more time...(My apology to the administrator)

    My previous comments had to do with Easter and it's origin not being Biblically based Period! And that the machinations of (any) man doesn't preempt God's written word, the Bible! By your notation, I doubt if you read my comments in its entirety, especially, my post #27, such as, but not limited thereto:



    "In fact, scholars claim that the very word Easter is of Anglo-Saxon origin, referring to the springtime. During that season, the ancients thought the sun was reborn after months of winter death. Other terms for the festival, such as pâques or pasqua, are derived from the ancient Hebrew word peʹsach, or “passover.” Christendom argues that Easter replaces this Jewish festival. But this ignores the fact that Jesus replaced the Passover, not with Easter, but with his last memorial supper." (In remembrance of him celebration -- Luke 22:19-20)

    Engaging in semantics doesn't preempt my only purpose in proving that the celebration of Easter has anything to do with Biblical implication.

    'Nuff said!
    Last edited by S-N-A-F-U; 04-17-2019 at 07:10 AM.

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    Maundy Thursday

    OK, I’ll admit it. Despite growing up in a traditional Lutheran church, I had to look up the word “Maundy” (I did know how to spell it, though). Basically, “Maundy Thursday” means “Foot-Washing Thursday”. Onward …

    Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?" And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. (Matthew 26:14-19, NASB)

    Judas has become an almost world-wide metaphor for a betrayer. To the best of my understanding, though, Judas violated no law. He got paid what amounted to 5 weeks’ wages to identify a certain person to the authorities: he made no false accusations, no perjury was involved. It was “just” an economic transaction. Judas got something he valued; the authorities got something they valued. The greatness of the betrayal wasn’t that a crime that was committed. Nor was the greatness of the betrayal in the number of people betrayed or the social position of the one betrayed. It was WHO Judas betrayed.

    But why would the Jewish leaders need Judas to finger some one with whom they’d been debating for much of the past week? I don’t think darkness fully accounts for it (it was full moon, Passover being always at full moon), though that may have played some part. My opinion is that the leaders didn’t want to risk an encounter with any crowd that might be present. They sent minions who may not have known Jesus at sight, and they did not want their purposes frustrated or exposed prematurely by a case of mistaken identity. Also, Western artworks notwithstanding, Jesus was probably a Jewish “every-man” Whose outward appearance was unremarkable.

    Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do You wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head." Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, "Not all of you are clean." So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.” (John13:3-16, NASB)

    Hence the name, “Maundy Thursday”. Various denominations have understood this command differently. Some literally do this, annually (e.g. Grace Brethren). Others understand the command as referring to the kind of love, forgiveness and service Christians should extend toward each other in the course of daily life and fellowship. Without arguing with those who practice literal foot-washing, I think the latter is Jesus’s point, one He made clear while Himself washing His disciples' feet and later, verbally. The disciples didn’t get it the first time, and maybe not even the second time. But were they so very dumb? I wouldn’t claim I'd understand better!

    When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing. And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called 'Benefactors.' But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.” (Luke 22:14-26, NASB)

    Here, as the culmination of His life approached, Jesus took the time to define real leadership. I think plaques with this passage should be hung on every wall of every pastor's or other church official's office and over every door into those offices! I also think supervisors and managers in the business world would likewise benefit from reflecting on Jesus's description of leadership.

    Taken literally or metaphorically, in foot-washing Jesus had demonstrated for His disciples what real Christian leadership was to be - serving those who are being led. Having just gone through several days or conflict with arrogant "leaders," Jesus's demonstration must have been doubly poignant! We've had 2 millennia to practice and to get this leadership concept down, so how are we doing? My answer would have to be that I've known and know of some good servant-leaders, but lordly leaders have been too common in church history and now. Too often, this imperative from Jesus has been gamed and weaseled into near meaninglessness! Or simply ignored. I do not have any single group in mind in saying that!

    I won't go into the Transubstantiation – Real Presence – Symbols debate. Better and smarter Christians than I have disagreed and debated that issue for centuries, and it would be a distraction in this context. I do think people of all three (two-and-a-half?) understandings could learn from each other. What Jesus did that night is interesting. The bread and the wine Jesus used were not brought there for His special use to institute Communion. Jesus used things already on hand from use in the Passover meal. Jesus didn’t totally break with Judaism and institute something utterly new, utterly foreign to it. He did something new – something outside of the Seder – but while or after doing what was normally done.

    The alienation between Jews and Christians these past too many centuries is a tragedy, utterly unnecessary, an estrangement in which Christians (and people using the name “Christian”) have played by far the larger part, in my opinion. The Christian Bible has the older Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, and the New Testament. Has anyone else noticed the curious fact that ~75% of the Christian Bible is the Old Testament? In churches that practice more formal catechesis, the Ten Commandments are part of the core "curriculum". Thus, Christianity, as taught by Jesus and the New Testament writers, is a fulfillment of Judaism. The bread and wine Jesus used in the now-famous “Last Supper” is a "small" illustration of this.
    Last edited by Traddles; 04-17-2019 at 11:32 PM.
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    At this point the question of "How often" becomes relevant. The correct answer is that there is no command with respect to this. While Jesus instituted communion at the Passover meal immediately preceding His death, what He did was not part of Passover, outside of commands regarding Passover, including how often, when, and how Passover was to be celebrated.

    More generally, the Scriptures do not give a lot of instruction concerning communion. But there are two passages that give an indication as to how often communion was celebrated, one of which does give some instructions as well.

    Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47

    This is in the same chapter as the account of the day of Pentecost. While this could be understood, in context, as meals being shared rather than communion, 1 Corinthians 11 indicates that the custom in Corinth, and therefore probably in Jerusalem, was both a community meal and communion.

    Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident. Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!

    For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

    For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world. So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment. I will give directions about other matters when I come. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

    Obviously, the community meal part of the overall celebration is followed by few nowadays. It was custom, not command (though the usefulness of the custom is pretty obvious, I think), just as how often they celebrated communion was custom, an area of freedom, there not being a command.

    Modern custom varies. Catholics are obligated by the Catholic Church to observe the Eucharist at just about every mass (even at a requiem?). Campbellites expect members of their churches to receive communion weekly. The Lutheran church in which I grew up had communion twice a month; I think the Baptist church I currently attend does monthly. I think the frequency and regularity should steer between familiarity becoming rote and lack of frequency frustrating the celebration of remembrance and unity.
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    Good Friday

    Then the whole body of them got up and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King." So Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" And He answered him and said, "It is as you say." Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, "I find no guilt in this man." But they kept on insisting, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place." When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time.

    Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. And he questioned Him at some length; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and the scribes were standing there, accusing Him vehemently. And Herod with his soldiers, after treating Him with contempt and mocking Him, dressed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate. Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.
    (Luke 23:1-12, NASB)

    Answering again, Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?" They shouted back, "Crucify Him!" But Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they shouted all the more, "Crucify Him!" Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. The soldiers took Him away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium), and they called together the whole Roman cohort. They dressed Him up in purple, and after twisting a crown of thorns, they put it on Him; and they began to acclaim Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They kept beating His head with a reed, and spitting on Him, and kneeling and bowing before Him. After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him. And they led Him out to crucify Him. They pressed into service a passer-by coming from the country, Simon of Cyrene (the father of Alexander and Rufus), to bear His cross.

    Then they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. They tried to give Him wine mixed with myrrh; but He did not take it. And they crucified Him, and divided up His garments among themselves, casting lots for them to decide what each man should take. It was the third hour when they crucified Him. The inscription of the charge against Him read, "THE KING OF THE JEWS." They crucified two robbers with Him, one on His right and one on His left. [And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with transgressors."] Those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads, and saying, "Ha! You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross !" In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes, were mocking Him among themselves and saying, "He saved others ; He cannot save Himself. Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe !" Those who were crucified with Him were also insulting Him. When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" which is translated, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they began saying, "Behold, He is calling for Elijah." Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink, saying, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to take Him down." And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. \When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
    (Mark 15:12-41, NASB)

    As provincial governor Pontius Pilate had two basic tasks: keep things peaceful and secure; extract money for the empire. Needless to say, accomplishing those would also aid his own considerable political ambitions. Neither was easy. Judea was not exactly rich, and the Jewish people were not exactly welcoming of Roman rule. It was common for Roman governors to be less than respectful of conquered peoples, but Pilate didn’t even know when he was treading on Jewish toes until trouble resulted. Pilate's reflexive imperialistic pride prevented him from being effective as governor. Consequently, as Roman governors went – typically political climbers – Pontius Pilate was a mediocrity. But he wasn't stupid.

    Pilate saw through the fluff and noise of the flurry of accusations, but he didn't want more trouble. When the accusers mentioned that Jesus was a Galilean, from an adjacent province, Pilate thought he spotted an opportunity to pawn off a thorny decision on the ruler of that territory, Herod. This Herod wasn't Herod "the Great" who had tried to kill Jesus some time after His birth. After Herod the Great died, Emperor Augustus didn't trust any of Herod's sons to replace him as king, so Herod's kingdom was divided four ways, with this Herod, Antipas, getting Galilee. Herod Antipas wasn't much better than his father, having killed John the Baptist to fulfill a rash promise to his daughter. However, Herod Antipas was a slipperier weasel than was Pilate. Herod toyed some with Jesus, didn't get the amusement he wanted, and sent Jesus back to Pilate for judgment. It speaks to the character of both Pilate and Herod Antipas that freeing an obviously innocent man wasn't on either man's political radar screen.

    In the crucifixion of Jesus, both Pilate’s disdain for those he governed and his mission of keeping the peace came into play. To be fair to him, I think the Jewish leaders pushing for Jesus’s crucifixion knew of and played on his imperative to maintain order. Pilate knew what was up, that Jesus was innocent of any crime against Rome. At the same time, here was a riot or even a revolt in the making at a time when Jerusalem was filled with Passover celebrants. So Pilate's disdain for an insignificant subject and his political ambition led him to overrule any latent sense of justice he may have had and instead try to placate the mob.

    Crucifixion, as perfected and practiced by the Romans, served several purposes. It was painful and horrible, and depending on available time, materials and the sadistic skill of the executioners, could extract tens of hours of excruciating pain from the person being executed. Did I mention the Romans' cruelty and sadism? Crucifixion was done publicly, and was reserved for non-citizens, a reminder to conquered peoples of their place in the Roman world. And it served warning to would-be rebels and people inclined to make a career of banditry that the price of failure and capture would be excruciatingly high.

    The crucifixion process was designed to inflict pain and use the executed person’s natural strength and survival instinct to prolong their pain. It started with what Mark called scourging. This alone would probably suffice to cause a person’s eventual death; if medical attention was received and the person survived, they would be horribly disfigured and disabled, so severe were the injuries inflicted. Carrying the crossbeam to the place of execution prolonged and broadened the scope of the public spectacle while taking the person beyond exhaustion. On arrival, the person would be seized (not gently!), arms stretched and fastened to the crossbeam; if nailed, the spike was placed at the base of the wrist, where every movement would inflame the nerves, causing explosions of pain. The crossbeam was then lifted onto the upright beam and the legs similarly fastened. After this, the cross was lifted upright and the base of the upright beam was slid into a hole that held the cross vertical. Needless to say, this was not done gently, and the jolt of the upright beam sliding into the hole and hitting bottom was just one more moment of agony for the person being executed. That person was now suspended in a position where the mere process of breathing happened at the cost of excruciating agony. The person could inhale, but could only exhale at the price of excruciating pain to their wrists and ankles, compounded by exhaustion and spasms in their arm and leg muscles. Thus began a slow process of exhaustion, pain and suffocation that could last, in the extreme, 2 or more days. If time was limited or they got bored, the executioners could hasten the end with a simple, painful expedient. The one crucified was only able to exhale so as to draw their next breath by pushing against the ropes or spike with their legs; the executioners took away that ability by breaking the person’s legs. The process of suffocation soon ended the person's agony. This was done to the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus.

    Why?

    Mankind has this problem ...

    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, NASB)

    It's a pretty serious problem ...

    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NASB)

    Mankind was in a hole, unable get out on our own. Foretold to our first parents, God sent - nay, became - the solution:

    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NASB)

    He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[/i] (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB)

    (F)ixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2, NASB)

    Jesus, God the Son, willingly, even gladly, paid the horrific price necessary that those who believe in Him and what He accomplished could live a life in relationship with Him and spend eternity with Him.
    Last edited by Traddles; Yesterday at 11:32 PM. Reason: Format stuff
    Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving. - David Burge, Iowahawkblog

    Think of the Press as Democratic Operatives with Bylines and it All Makes Sense - Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit blog

    Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn't know because they might reflect badly on Democrats. - Jim Treacher

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    Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving. - David Burge, Iowahawkblog

    Think of the Press as Democratic Operatives with Bylines and it All Makes Sense - Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit blog

    Modern journalism is all about deciding which facts the public shouldn't know because they might reflect badly on Democrats. - Jim Treacher

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