Spirit - Digest

Going Deeper: Fascinating Details Surrounding the Passion of The Lord

by Judy Gassett @ www.spirit-digest.com

John the Baptist is a Real priest 
In ancient Israel a priest of the Most High God  is required to proclaim a sacrifice acceptable for service, a requirement that holds to this very day in our Catholic Mass. John, a priest, does this on the banks of the Jordan when he announces, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." God thus fulfills his own requirements for sacrificial victims. 

John the Baptist is a cohen, a priest of Israel. John was  born as a Levite priest  uniquely qualified to proclaim Jesus as a fitting Lamb of God. The Hebrew priesthood was hereditary. His priesthood may have been why John commanded special reverence and throngs followed him into the badlands listening to him in great numbers. Even Herod took notice of John's declarations, unlikely if he were an ordinary radical or fanatic. Moreover, Christ asks  Temple elders on Passion Week, "Was John's baptism of men or God?"  They could have answered, "Of man" if John were an ordinary man and not a cohen. But they dared not ask Him any more questions. 

In the Catholic mass for the sacrifice to be valid, the priest still must proclaim the victim is an acceptable sacrifice.  Just before the banquet the priest holds up the consecrated host (when it is truly Jesus Christ) and intones, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world". I doubt most celebrants are aware of the ancient requirement, an exclusively prerogative of the true priesthood since the Ten Commandments were handed down.

Jesus Christ's  ministry begins  with John the Baptist’s declaration. But just as Jesus' ministry was starting up, John's was winding down. After proclaiming Christ to be the "Lamb of God" John's work is completed He is  arrested and imprisoned. After His baptism Jesus goes about selecting the twelve. This story closely parallels  Samuel and David in the Old Testament. 

Both were male children, a gift for the prayers of their parents; both were consecrated to God at a very early age. both preached repentance; both chastised the Jewish King of the time: Samuel-- Saul and John-- Herod; Samuel anointed David and John baptized Jesus.  Samuel was the last Judge and immediate precursor of the Great King, David. John was the last prophet and priest of the Old Law and baptized the Eternal King, Jesus Christ.

He is recognized as a king by a blind man on his final trip to Jerusalem which would also include a coronation.  Mark 10:46-48.
The Lord fulfills every messianic prophecy.  Four Hundred years prior Zechariah  calls Him by name and describes the palm reception that no blind man could miss. And a blind man, Bartimaeus, did not miss it; but the literate, erudite, and all of Israel did.

The healing of  blind Bartimaeus was a messianic event. Bartimaeus called the Lord Jesus Christ the "Son of David." This is the only place in the Gospels that this title appears. Elsewhere the Lord is referred to as the "Son of Man." But when Bartimaeus called Him the "Son of David," he was healed of his blindness. National Israel is pictured by Bartimaeus' physical blindness. The Son of David, who is the Anointed One of God, had come to give sight to Israel.  Now He was headed to Jerusalem to be crowned king and offer Himself for all nations.  When Israel recognizes Jesus as "Son of David" (His royalty), they will no longer be blind. Just as prophesized, they will call upon "Him, Who comes in the name of the Lord", to save their nation.

Bull's Eye prophecy fulfilled
Some hundreds of years prior to the triumphal entry, the prophet Zechariah had written, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and is salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass."  Matthew and John both quote this prophecy.  Amazingly, Zechariah even calls Christ by his common name at the time.  The word  for "salvation" is Yeshua in Hebrew or "Jesus" in Greek. A century before Zechariah's prophecy, the prophet Daniel  gave us an EXACT DATE that the prophecy would be fulfilled (Daniel 9:25-26), 600 years before it happened!  Sir Robert Anderson worked out the simple math and came to the date April 6, 32 A.D. was the first Palm Sunday.

 The day Christ arrived, Palm Sunday, was Nisan 10, the first day of the week, would have been when the priests had gone into the hills of  Bethlehem which is where the  Temple herds were foaled and raised. On this day the priests and their assistants would have driven the herds into the city. Behind this group on this particular day came the Lamb of God sitting on the colt. The priests and their assistants then would have proceeded to the courtyards of the Temple to examine hundreds, maybe thousands of lambs for imperfections and to also pick the perfect lamb who would be exsanguinated and become the sin offering for the nation. 

Moses, the first deliverer, came to the Children of Israel riding on a colt 1,400 years before with the message of salvation and deliverance for Israel. Therefore, Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem was another prophetic sign to the Hebrew people and the real work of a deliverer that should have been recognized. 

The Lord rides into Jerusalem on the Christian Sunday (the Jewish first day of the week) which was Nissan 10. Afterward, the Lamb of God was examined for 4 days in the Temple and tested with hard questions over which he soared every time. Also note, that Jesus, as a Lamb, was sold by Judas  and bought by the Levitical priesthood like any other lamb in the Temple stockyards after examination. So consumed with hatred and envy they never dreamed that they were purchasing the Consolation of Nations, the real deal from the beginning of creation,  the perfect and the ultimate sin offering which they, themselves, would offer for the sins of their own and every nation.

 He next entered the Temple and began to cast out those who were selling, ( Luke 19:4). Moses instructed that in preparation for the Passover all leaven (which would contaminate unleavened bread) was to be removed from the family's house. Leaven is equated with sin, and principally pride, since leaven causes swelling. A search is made of each home to look for leaven. Now the Temple was Jesus' house and he also removed the leaven in preparation for the feast. This is why Jesus was required to cast out those dishonestly changing money and selling (sinning).    

The sin offering and the burnt offering.
Valid blood sacrifices require priests to this very day.  Two lambs are involved in the Passover rituals as laid out in Leviticus. The first was the Sin offering, ALWAYS followed by a burnt offering. The sin offering was the one eaten on the evening of the Passover. Today, the Eucharist is the sin offering, recreated at each mass with, "This is the Cup of My Blood… which shall be shed so that sins may be forgiven".

The other lamb was always a burnt offering to be totally consumed on the altar and eaten by the priests, to make atonement for the sins of both the priest and the entire nation. This is the lamb offered on the day of Nisan 14th around 3 P.M.  The offering was burnt so that it could be totally consumed.  Christ fulfilled this requirement  by shedding every drop of blood possible to shed. A rapid loss of blood would have met death from shock. So the manner of death had to be slow with increasing exhaustion and constant blood letting from reopened wounds and new ones in order for a healthy, strong man in his prime to die the death decreed by His Father.

Evading "defilement" by assigning the death warrant to the cowardly Pilate
Moses' law forbade mixing death with the Passover rituals since the Passover commemorates going from death (slavery)  to life (free men).  Such an admixture would cause defilement and negated the Passover sacrifice which the chief priests must  offer for the nation's sins. Another fascinating requirement is that the lamb which is offered for the nation in the Temple must only be handled by the high priesthood (Caiaphas and Annas). These two as Levites, were in service to the Temple from childhood as priests in training. They must certainly have seen Jesus in the Temple when He was 12 astonishing the elders and miles ahead of them in understanding the law.  It is likely their jealousy was born then.

John 18:28 states that the high priests  did not even enter into the Praetorium "in order that they might not be defiled but eat the Passover." Jesus tells Pilate that his is the lesser of the sins (John 9:11). Therefore, from start to finish, the chief priests officiated accurately without knowing they were satisfying the Mosaic requirements to sacrifice the Lamb of God. They had properly bought, examined, and otherwise and handled the Lamb of God sacrifice in both place and time.

Several times the gospels record  the high drama of the Jewish priesthood attempting to detach itself from Jesus' death by manipulating the cowardly Pilate to condemn Him. Undoubtedly there were a number of variations for inflicting suffering during crucifixion. You can be sure that these wicked priest worked with the crucifiers behind the scenes to inflict the greatest suffering possible.  Their hatred and envy of he Savior, and calcified hypocrisy ultimately permitted fulfillment of the Pascal sacrifice to the minutest detail!

Crowned king
Gary Stearman at Prophecy in the News tells us in the April 2009 Issue that mid Nisan had been set aside for the crowning of Jewish kings starting with Saul. The heartbreaking irony is that Jesus is crowned with thorns symbolic of  consequences of sin because they appear in the scripture right after God curses the earth and mandates thorns and thistles for the original sin of Adam and Eve.  Stearman points out that all of the requirements for a coronation are there: Acclaim and acceptance by the people at the triumphant entry; acknowledgement of the kingship by the current government (Romans) with the written proclamation, ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"), which Pilate himself wrote and refused to change; the horror of crowning ceremony itself done to humiliate and revile God; and the formal presentation of Christ to the people in garments of royal color, wearing his crown.

Jesus' coronation was mandated by God, Himself  at a time set aside in ancient Israel for  the crowning of Jewish kings. Jesus literally took God's curse (thorns) upon himself !

God through Moses instructed the Israelites that hanging on a tree was the most ignominious, despicable form of death. Deuteronomy 21:22: “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God”

Galatians 3:13 – “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).  So Jesus had to die on a tree. When He took our sins upon Himself, he was truly accused and abandoned by the Father, and agreed to it ahead of time for us.

Added 3/30/15
This author cannot agree with the majority expositors, including Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth II, that scourging was a common part of the crucifixion ritual. It is clear from the biblical accounts that it was ordered by Pilate as one last attempt to save Christ's life and in a twist decreed by his Father, the Savior ended up getting twice the lethal dose of wounds first by scourging and then by crucifixion.

Even for the Romans scourging was too harsh for typical crucifixions and would greatly hasten death as many died after the scourging from shock, kidney failure and blood loss. Jewish laws forbid the double punishment. But again these laws were subverted in the case of Christ. 

In Mathew 20:18-19, Christ tells the apostles that they are going down to Jerusalem where He will be scourged AND crucified. Why would He say that if it were understood to be part of the bloody ritual? Certainly, everyone knew that the condemned carried their crosses to the execution site. "Pick up your cross and follow me" was spoken metaphorically but everyone in that world knew where that phrase came from and what it meant.

Christ died of blood loss.
Further, Jesus DID NOT die of asphyxiation. Mystically, you know that this must be true with all the references to sacrificial victims and shedding of blood in the OT and NT.  Sacrificial lambs were required to be exsanguinated by Jewish laws as laid down by God through Moses.  It was  the most humane way for killing a sacrificial victim and preserved ritual purity.    Possibly later, for most crucifixion victims, who were not horrendously brutalized prior to the crucifixion, and were not affixed by nails in all the extremities, death by asphyxiation under increasing exhaustion/ dehydration could have been likely after 3 days on the cross.  Moreover, the fact that  Pilate was surprised when notified of the death, shows that he may not have been aware that the extreme form of crucifixion would be applied to the Savior. Pilate washed his hands of the mess literally handing Christ over to the Jewish religious leaders who wanted Jesus to suffer as much as possible.  

Like the proclamation of kingship and crowning with thorns, the death of this sacrificial lamb was an unrestrained, cruel, inversion of laws for handling Passover sacrifices. But it made it possible for Him to  shed every possible drop of blood for all of us.

There were no details about how the thieves were affixed to their crosses. Unlikely nails. They saw an exhausted, weakened, macerated Christ approaching, so bloody that he was unrecognizable. In addition to Simon the Cyrene who helped with the cross, the Greek text implies that He was also assisted to Golgotha,

Tied to their crosses they looked down  and saw Him roughly thrown to the ground  driving  the thorns even deeper that made it impossible to even rest his sacred head.  The wrists ligaments were torn and the median nerve severed. This would have left the hands permanently contracted into a claw. Then the shoulders were deliberately dislocated in affixing the other wrist.  "I poured out like water, and all of my bones are out of joint" Ps. 22:14). The same technique was used nail the feet. Multiple lower extremity joints were likely dislocated.

It is my opinion that this is the main reason for one thief to declare, "What hath He done to merit this?".  While the thieves were tightly bound to their crosses, it was certainly not painless, but was many times less painful than what Christ suffered.  Then, when Jesus forgives the crucifiers, the one awe-struck thief recognizes Him as God.

Even if Jesus were tied to the crossbeam with ropes it would have taken some of the pressure off the nerves and ligaments transfixed  by the spikes in the forearms. There is no indication (on the Shroud) that ropes of any kind were use. He who gave unfathomable mercy  to the Good Thief (Dismas), even in dying, received none and was completely suspended by His wounds.  Dismas' acknowledgement and the rescue of a lost soul became a consolation in an ocean with wave after wave of  increasing pain.

What about that blood which was shed for the world?
Major divine intervention was required for thousands of years for the Incarnation to even occur making. Christ blood is the most precious, priceless, object in the universe. This is my minority opinion but l deem logical because it is the sublimely perfect completion of the Old Covenant with Christ's blood literally on it.

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed ... but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Pet. 1:18-19).

Christ's precious blood did not crust over and flake into oblivion; it did not waft away in the trade winds; it did not mingle with dirt and eventually grind into dust and dissipate.  The lance pierced Christ's left side, (and likely, the spleen), from which blood and water flowed down the cross into the rock fissure opened up by the earthquake immediately after the incredible death. It flowed down 22 feet below where it came to rest over the left side of the Mercy Seat which rested on the Ark of the Covenant, itself. This sealed the Old Law with blood and brought forth the New Covenant which would henceforth revolve around an unbloody sacrifice called the Mass administered by the nascent apostolic priesthood.  

Further, ancient Jews believed that the when Messiah came he would sprinkle his own blood on the left side of the Ark of the Covenant, (how this would be accomplished was never elucidated). When the Ark was available, prior to the Babylonian captivity, the high priest of Israel sprinkled sacrificial blood on the right side of the Ark during the yearly Yom Kippur ritual. All of this was discussed in a series of 5 articles written in 2010 and can be found in the archive under "The Covenant Story".

The Ark of the Covenant was discovered in 1982 on the Palestinian side of Jerusalem 22 feet under the old city. The Israeli Antiquities Authority is fully aware of it and partially funded the excavations but quit when the working was taking years. After discovery, they tried and failed to bring the Ark it back to the Israeli side. (They deny the discovery vehemently). The five Levites chosen for the task were struck dead by the angels still guarding the Ark.  It is the most important non-Christian artifact in the world and its revelation to the word could foster unprecedented upheavals,  cataclysms man made, and otherwise, and even the advent of the Anti-Christ. In God's perfect timing it will be revealed.

Unusual darkness
There was an "unusual darkness" recorded in the Roman literature at the time. This is not "dimming" of natural light but a remarkable darkness for three hours that prevented the slaying of the Pascal lamb in the Temple. A storm would not be an "unusual darkness". The darkness could not have been a solar eclipse as the Passover is a full moon feast on the 14th of Nisan.

Josephus tells us that it was common practice to kill the Passover lambs at mid-afternoon. In his Wars of the Jews, we read the time for sacrificing the  Passover lambs was from  about midday to 3 pm and must be completed by sundown. This Passover it  was too dark to sacrifice the  lambs and remained so for three hours. While the Savior's body was taken from the cross, the rest of Judaism was rushing to kill the lambs before sunset after which it would be illegal for a Passover.  But our loving God considered this day pivotal in human events and He underscores it with a supernatural darkness that prevented any other lamb from being sacrificed except for His Own son.

Tearing of the veil signifies God's profound grief
Tearing of the Veil from top to bottom a miraculous event, a terrible portent, and  a profound expression of God's grief over the lost of a loved one. The high priests rent their garments in anger the night before and now God rips his outer garment, the Veil, which separates the Holy of Holies from the sanctuary. The Veil was of cloth, woven with precious metals and exotic fibers, over 4 inches thick and 70 feet long. According Edersheim (below), it weighed tons and required 3,000 priests to handle which was understandably not often. The ground motion of the earthquake that followed Jesus' death, might knock the veil down but would not rip it in two.

The tearing of the Veil to express God's grief over the crucifixion is one interpretation. Others are certainly possible and there may be multiple meanings embedded in this event, all true, such as it signified the cessation of the Old Covenant and the beginning of the New.

It  is unlikely that the Blessed Mother touches Jesus after He died
It is likely that  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus assisted in removing Jesus' body and placing Him in the tomb. Although they had disagreed with the proceedings, both of these men were members of the 14 member council that had condemned Jesus.  In accordance with the altar service requirement, only members of the council were authorized to physically come into contact with the Lamb of God sacrifice. . Based upon these requirements, it is unlikely that Mary handled or touched the Lamb as portrayed by the Pieta. This certainly does NOT diminish the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Mother. In fact, It acerbates them.  After all the Blessed Mother endured that day, the incredible sorrow of even not touching Him may have been her final sorrow which she offered so that God's law could be fulfilled to the letter and prophecy completed. We all know how the Blessed Mother, Most Prudent Virgin, put obedience to God's will over everything else.  Certainly the most qualified person to touch Him would have been His mother who remained immaculate and sinless in her grief.

He Rises on the 17th of Nisan (The 3rd Day)

The seventeenth of Nisan is highly significant date. Scripture records it as exact day Noah's ark came to rest. Obviously, God had a future plan for this date and seldom do we see date setting in the Bible.

On the seventeenth of Nisan, through Noah, we were born again into a new life free of the devastating evils that required God to destroy the rest of the world. In Christ we are also born again on the seventeenth of Nisan into a new life freeing us of original sin that would keep us from heaven. These are the most significant triumphs thus far in human history. Therefore, the Seventeenth of Nisan is generally thought by Bible students to be the biblical number of victory.

The Hebrew word matzo (unleavened) means “sweet, without sourness.” The unleavened bread typified the sweetness and wholesomeness of life without sin (leaven). By its stripes, pummeling and puncturing required for preparation, it foreshadows the sinless, perfect life of the Messiah, who would come to lay down His life via piercing and beatings as God’s ultimate Passover Lamb.

The ultimate sinless sweet dessert
The Passover festivities have and embedded game. Three piece of unleavened bread are taken before the meal. The first and the last are served to the guests as unleavened bread. The middle one, called the Afikomen (dessert), is broken in half and the half is wrapped in linen cloth and hidden in the Jewish house. At end of the meal, the youngest members of the dinner party are asked to find the Afikomen and bring it to the table to share and receive an award. To most Christians this custom parallels Christ's burial and the linen that wrapped his body.

It is fascinating that St. John, the  youngest Apostle, the is the first one to the tomb looking for Jesus after the resurrection but does not find Him. When Jesus is found fear has fled and there is  indescribable joy and peace.  The same await each soul searching for Christ and finds Him. The Savior, who was our unleavened (sinless) bread broken for us, is risen. 

The Messiah did not come and then look around for fitting symbols with which to remember Him.  The Seder and then the Catholic mass were in God's plan from the beginning to convey redemption. All should remember  the symbols of  redemption and the perfected covenant that the Lord placed in our midst on the Seder table first and then  in our Catholic Mass afterward. 

Original: 4/12/09
Modified 3/30/15

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Further reading:
Alfred Edersheim The Temple: Its Ministry and Services
Chuck Missler A Quantum Hologram of Christ’s Resurrection?

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