Updated: Jan 29, 2021
(Note: This bus stop has given up internal pictures for Lent)
Recently, I have been pouring over the Gospels to create a Lenten project. I wanted to show how the last days of Jesus’ ministry spread over a six month period, highlighted by an eight-day Passover week. I created a timeline that referenced a continuous flow of each of the four Gospels, while creating a separate chart that displayed how the Last Supper was the Passover Seder meal, occurring on the Friday evening that preceded those eight days.
In the presentation I created, I drew attention to the week before the Passover as being when Jesus presented himself for a four-day inspection, so he could be found “without blemish,” qualifying him to be selected as the Paschal Lamb.
That symbolism was then repeated during the Passover week, where Jesus was arrested and held for four days, being inspected daily: by the Sanhedrin, by Pilate, by Herod Antipas, and finally by Pilate again. Those four days stretched from the Sabbath through Tuesday, before he was sacrificed as the Paschal lamb on Wednesday … dead at 3:00 PM.
Today, in Joshua, we read how the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land brought a new significance to that which the Israelites had observed for the forty years since the initial Passover. The remembrance of freedom from Egypt was elevated to a new memory of reward, once they entered the Promised Land of Canaan.
In that same line of thought, the last Passover week of Jesus’ life represented yet another new memory, one that has since been repeatedly recognized by Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, as a Holy Week of the highest degree.
As such, when Joshua wrote, “The manna ceased on the day they ate the produce of the land,” we can see how his words could be modified to say, “The unleavened bread ceased on the day they ate the body of Jesus Christ.”
Just as Joshua said, “The Israelites no longer had manna” (their spiritual food while in the wilderness), Paul wrote, “From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view.” They had been lifted up to a higher perspective.
“The crops of the land of Canaan,” as Joshua noted, represented the food of the new priests to the One God. The spiritual manna had created priests from common stock of believers. The body and blood of Jesus Christ has since elevated human priests to divine priests … Apostles … Saints.
Now, as nice as all that sounds, everything goes back to the first notice of the Exodus, at which point every Israelite family was told to prepare to become free men and women, those who worship only one God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We commoners, as did they, have to take a one-year old lamb and inspect him for four days, making sure he is blemish free. Then, we have to cut that lamb’s throat and capture the blood of that lamb in special vessels, after which we will use the blood to paint the threshold of our family abode. That will make us marked for God, as were the Israelites, so the angel of death will not take our lives, in the sense that all mortals are dead (regardless of how much we breathe) because we have done nothing to earn eternal life.
Forget about all the real work that comes afterwards … for now. Just prepare your family for survival, through animal sacrifice, so freedom can be the next step.
Just as Moses told the Israelites in Egypt what to do to save their lives, Jesus told his disciples in Judea and Galilee what to do to save theirs. Likewise, the Apostles and Saints, filled with the same Holy Spirit as Moses and Jesus, tell ALL Christians what to do to gain eternal freedom with God.
Just like Jesus told his disciples, “I am the sacrificial lamb who must die, resurrect, and ascend,” so too must we sacrifice ourselves, by dying in ego so we can each be reborn as Jesus and ascend through fruitfulness.
Christians have to paint their doorways with the blood of Jesus, where the symbolic blood used is that of their old selves. We must drink the blood of Christ to replace the common blood we spill. The symbolic painting of sacrificial lamb’s blood around one’s entrance way to the inner sanctum of self broadcasts to the angel of death (Satan), “Nope, no one here who is still drawn to human whims.”
Paul wrote, “Even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” Paul then continued, saying “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation!” The new creation is a Spiritual self, with the old human ego-driven self gone away!
Paul then went on to repeat some form of the word “reconcile,” which means, “to bring one’s self to accept.” We have to want to receive the Spirit to be reconciled. We must want to bring into harmony our relationship with God.
Basically, there are three types of human beings in the world. The first are those who do not know God. They may worship other gods – the gods of the dead – or they may only have a belief in the physical world as being supreme. They believe, “What you see is what you get.” The world has long been filled with this type of human being.
The next type are those who believe in Our Lord – be they Jewish, Christian or even Muslim – but they do little more than lip service to God. They believe that their personal definitions of “faith” earns them a right to salvation, while they go about condemning others as sinners. When we read the word “Pharisee,” we should think of this type; but there are a vast number of so-called Christians that are the modern equivalents of those ancient “lawyers.”
Finally, there are those who believe in the One God and seriously want to be faithful. Unfortunately, some worldly drama always gets in their path, turning them aside. This type of human being eventually end up sinning (time and again – often the same sin over and over), with their faith-driven guilt causing them to feel sorry about their actions.
These three types of human beings support the Paulian statement that all human beings are born dead. Human beings are mortals, thus they lead lives that only lead to death, with their souls being thrown in the “Recycle bin.”
The parable Jesus told to the Pharisees and the scribes, read in the Gospel of Luke, places focus on two of those types of humans. The second and the third. Those two represent the two sons of the Father.
The so-called “prodigal son,” meaning the son who was “recklessly wasteful or extravagant, as in disposing of goods or money,” reflects one of faith who has profited (as one of faith believes) from God’s blessings. This type of son demands from the Father: “Give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” It is impatient and cannot wait for a higher reward.
Once blessed with what this type son wished for – coming as a prayer answered – he then leaves his seat on the church pew and goes to “a distant country,” where religion is not part of his new lifestyle. There they “squander their property in dissolute living” (a life that is “lacking moral restraint”).
All of that shows a sinful existence, which was the lifestyle of “all the tax collectors and sinners” who came “near to listen to Jesus.” Because they believed in God, having seen the blessings of the Father firsthand, only to squander everything they once had in a world that would give nothing to anyone down in the dumps, they walked the lonely road of regret back to the Father’s house … or the Jewish synagogues where they would quickly and easily be identified – “SINNER!!!”
Still, they returned because they knew “my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare.” They walked that road with the plan to go up to the Father and say, “I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called you son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”
It is important to see this confession and this statement of repentance as an admission of seeing just how bad a life of sin IS. They know failure, rather than simply fear failure from warnings. This type of son, who comes to a personal willingness to transform, from being a “flesh and bones, human son” to being a “hired hand” is significant.
A “hired hand” is a paid employee, one who is employed by another. A state of “employ” means one has ceased to being an heir, with known property rights ahead, becoming “occupied” by the mercies of someone else. This is then synonymous with dying of self-ego and being sold into the service of the Holy Spirit – the payment given by God.
This then relates the Holy Spirit to the “fatted calf, the best robe, a ring and sandals.” The “fatted calf” represents self-sacrifice, the “best robe” represents the righteousness of a saintly priest, the “ring on the finger” represents one’s marriage to God, and the “sandals” represents one being a messenger of the Lord.
The celebration and rejoicing comes from heaven, as God and all the angels sing and praise a new servant to God, because a son who was dead in the material realm has been reborn (as Jesus). “He was lost and is found!”
He was born dead, but he has been reborn as a duplicate of Jesus – another Son of the Father.
The second type of son is he who reflects a Pharisee. There are many today who fit the description of a self-righteous Pharisee. All day long they go to work in the fields (their careers) where they too live off an inheritance that is all the bounty of the Father. They do not pray to God for “stuff” in the material realm, as they believe it is their right to have whatever the Father makes available.
Still, when the elder son in the parable returns and hears the celebration for his lost brother, this type of son sees a hired hand as “a slave.” All of the tax collectors and sinners, those who beat their chests in the synagogues, begging God to forgive them for their sins, they are seen as disowned sons of a Father by this type of son. Sinners are seen as the pawns of their Master, deserving nothing (at best) or the whip (at worst). This type son resents and is jealous of a sinner who is treated as special, even when the sinner has repented and transformed into a willing servant of the Lord.
It is the anger in this type of son that keeps them part of the world of the dead. This elder son type acts just as did the Pharisees and the Temple scribes, who were angered at Jesus, his disciples, and the sinners they allowed to surround them. It is their hardened hearts that cause the Father to “come out and begin to plead with them.” A hardened heart cannot welcome God within. An imbalance emotional state locks the heart away from God, forcing God to come to them.
Jesus was the Father coming out, pleading with the elder son (the Pharisees), as a servant to God filled with the Holy Spirit!
The elder son argued, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends.”
This son saw his work as a priest for the One God as forced upon him. His anger had him sound as if he were beaten by the Father for not pointing out the sins of others (not the case at all). He had not disobeyed the Law of Moses; but all the time he had observed the Law, he stood on the boundary of that Law and looked wantonly out at the world of sin, lusting to do as the sinners do. He saw his service as that of a captive, where sin becomes the illusion of freedom from his bondage.
The “slaves” of the Father are angels and the elder son was a human being … certainly no angel.
That mean the “young goat” was a scapegoat! This son screamed at his Father, “Not once did you release me to sin with my friends, so all my sins would be placed on the back of a young goat, driven into the wilderness.”
This son did not care about being the “fatted calf” of sacrifice, bringing with its death the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was because being a Pharisee brought the ego inflating pride that comes from being the religion police, with the role of yelling judgments, such as, “Look at that son of yours who came back! He devoured your property with prostitutes!”
When the Father said to the elder son, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours,” God recognized that self-restraint (even that seeped with resentment), shown in the name of God will save one from condemnation and the bondage of a sinner, who is sold as a slave to Satan. Forced compliance to the Law is only one step away from ownership of the Law … but it is also only one step away from rebellion against the Law.
The lesson the elder son must learn is finding joy in all sinners who repent past sins and are willing to sacrifice themselves (not an animal), so they can become servants to God. A servant of that free-will devotion is worth more to God than a bondsman with a bad attitude.
After all, which type son do you think has a better chance to lead the third type of human being – the polytheists and atheists – to belief in the One God?
Christians and Jews all serve God by recognizing a freedom of bondage to the sins offered by a world of many gods (“the disgrace of Egypt”). We all serve the One God.
Christians are all those who have gone beyond knowing Jesus Christ as a Jew of ancient Judea and Galilee. Christians see Jesus as the “fatted calf” that was sacrificed so the Holy Spirit was made available to all who likewise have played and will play the role of prodigal son. True Christians know sin; but they have gone beyond an addiction to sin, with no knowledge of how to stop. True Christians have felt the warmth of the Father, have repented past sins, and have sacrificed their egos so they will never sin again. They sacrifice that beast because of their knowledge.
The Passover blood covers their passageways, leading to their own transformations. True Christians have received the ministry of reconciliation. True Christians are ambassadors for Christ, filled with the righteousness of God.
“Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!”
“Do not be like a horse or mule, which have no understanding; who must be fitted with bit or bridle, or else they will not stay near you.”
“Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.”
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