Easter or the paschal mystery is believed to be one of the celebrations that define or remind Christians of the importance of their faith, or our faith (because I am a Christian too). But at the end of the piece, I might have asked some questionable questions, stepped on some toes, or made some assertions that may not agree with the established Christian beliefs that has lasted eons. My only appeal is that you take a patient walk with me along this line of thoughts; all I really do have is ‘a lot of questions’.
The beautiful story of Easter begins with a narrative, the episode in heaven, to which Christians can only bear witness to, by faith. So I’m imagining a scene in heaven, the Godhead asks ‘whom shall I send? Who will go for me?’ and then, his son, steps up to the challenge. It is a good point to note that the narrative or the call of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8 is sometimes misinterpreted to be Jesus’ humble volition to die for us. I am not questioning the veracity of the event, but I cannot seem to wrap my head around the intention.
Remember Matthew 26 vs 40? The episode at Gethsemane, Jesus asked that if it was possible, the cup should pass him by. That part of the Bible too makes me wonder, did he second guess his love for us? Did he contemplate changing the Father’s mind? Did he foresee the pain he was to go through? What was the aim of that part of the Bible? To make Jesus look humane? Or weak? Because the lamb that is led to the slaughter was not meant to protest, it was meant to be silent.
I’ll lay out my concern; ‘So, humanity is a mess. The supreme being decides to save humanity. But a divine being has to die. He announces to all the heavens, and no angel volunteered. So, to save humanity, humans have to kill the ‘God-sent’? Does the murder of Jesus Christ not further implicate humanity?’ Perhaps, since it’s a sacrifice, all those who had a hand in Jesus’ death might not face the consequences in afterlife because they were only fulfilling the scriptures…unknown to most of them perhaps.
This brings me to another question and great concern. I will not be the first person to be truly concerned about Judas. Jesus already declared in Matthew 26:24:
‘The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him,
but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed.
It would be better for him if he had not been born’
The excerpt above has two implications. The first, is that everything that happened had been predestined, so there was little anyone could do to change it. Also, the divine will already selected a disciple to betray Jesus, in fact, would it be a betrayal if it wasn’t someone close to Jesus? Secondly, the last line; ‘it would have been better for him if he had not been born.’. Hmmm… let’s take a deep breath here. If Judas wasn’t born, wouldn’t another disciple betray Jesus? Even if Judas refused, since it had been written, someone else would probably have done it right? Well, Judas is already the culprit. What would have been on Judas’ mind the whole time he was leading the soldiers to Jesus? Regret? Fear? What would be the reason to betray Jesus? Because for someone who had worked with him and seen miracles, money alone should not be a reason. Well, what do I know?
Other concerns about Judas? Yeah…will he get divine pardon for playing a significant path in saving the world? If he had refused to follow his destiny, would things have turned around differently? Maybe it would have been Peter? He denied Jesus too.
Well, to be fair on Peter, Jesus was facing charges for treason. Some of you might not know this, but that is a really big offence against any state or nation. In any situation, anyone of us would have acted the same way without thinking once. Besides, he was prophesied to be the rock on which the new church will be built. If he’s charged as an accessory to the crime, perhaps the church would have found a new rock?
Still on Peter. Remember the part he cut off one of the Soldier’s ears? Peter was a fisherman right? How was he able to cut off a Soldier’s ear? When you read that passage, do you also imagine Peter cutting off the ear with just a swing of the sword? You certainly would not picture Peter holding the Soldier’s left ear with the tip of his right hand, while he gradually cuts off the soldier’s left ear with his left hands. Does the second picture seem improbable because it would take a while to cut off? Or you have always imagined Peter to be right-handed? There’s quite a lot we weren’t told about the disciples. Do you ever try to imagine how the soldier must have felt when his ear was healed? What about those that witnessed the miracle? So that kind of sight would not make them a little hesitant to arrest Jesus? Well, they were soldiers, they were strictly following orders….or divine will, either ways, they were following blindly.
I am also very curious about Barabbas, the thief that was acquired because of Jesus. Is there any account of his life afterwards? Because such a life-changing event is meant to change our perspective about life.
I recently read the trial of Jesus again, and I noticed one thing; he really wanted to get on the nerves of the authorities. This was the same Jesus that was preaching for year’s, inciting the Pharisees and Sadducees and slipping through crowds. It felt like Jesus really wanted to be killed. Some persons would disagree with me, but in his conversation with Pilate (Matthew 27: 11-14), if you read it carefully, Jesus had a somewhat arrogant tone. At a point, he even refused answering the questions he was asked. This was this same person that made Pharisees see the flaws in their practices. Accusations are being heaped against you, accusations that would lead to your death, but you remain silent, why? Oh yes! The scripture must be fulfilled.
I really hope all those who had a significant role to play in Jesus’ death did not face eternal damnation as a result of that ‘offense’ because it is quite arguable that they were puppets to forces beyond them. If they had turned against the divine will, would they have been pardoned for refusing to have a hand in the Messiah’s death? If it isn’t divine will for Jesus to be crucified, what was his purpose on earth? Except there was another way to save humanity and that option wasn’t applied.
In Luke 23:34 Jesus says ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they do’. This statement is seriously underrated! Is he asking for God’s forgiveness on the Jews because they did not know that they were crucifying the Son of God? Was he asking God to forgive them because they did not know that they were fulfilling the scriptures? If they were fulfilling the scriptures, were they committing a sin that deserved forgiveness? Besides it’s meant to be God’s will right? Hmmmmm.
In Matthew 27:45 Jesus cries out: ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?’. Did you notice something? Until this moment, Jesus usually referred to God as ‘My Father’ what exactly did he mean by forsake? And why did he stop calling the Godhead ‘My father?’ He must have really felt betrayed. Or was it because it was his dying moments? Perhaps the human in him kicked in. Perhaps, he felt the same way he felt when he was in Gethsemane asking that the cup should pass him by.
I know that this analysis of the sacred scripture must have offended a lot of senses, dogmas and beliefs. Many people keep saying; ‘Do not analyze scriptural or divine books the same way you would analyze literary pieces’. Yeah, you might be right. But it is no crime when we sit on our ‘scholarly stools’ an refer to stories of Greek or Roman origins as ‘myth’, because it has no historical or religious significance to the people of Greece or Rome (that was a sarcastic one). But we can easily get defensive when the same lens of scrutiny touches our beliefs.
This piece is not to ridicule or contradict anyone’s beliefs. I just genuinely have questions.
Theodore A. Ogedegbe