Monday, April 2, 2012

Perfect Lambs and an Empty Tomb

Let’s play time travel: Let’s zoom back 3,452 years, back past I-phones and cars, past the beginnings of Islam, past the Romans and the Greeks –back to springtime on the Nile delta in roughly 1440 B.C. when 2,000,000 Jews brushed the blood of lambs on the door posts of their houses and ate unleavened bread and the roasted lambs, and awaited the deliverance of the Lord. The lamb’s blood protected them from the worst of the curses – the death of the first-born in every household. Then they were delivered from Egypt, free at last to go home where they belonged.

Back to the time machine -- let’s speed forward again – past the Greeks, to Roman times, to a spring day in 30 A.D. in Jerusalem. The major players had been up all night. It was a Friday, the 14th of Nisan, a day known as Passover, a day set aside to commemorate the day when the Angel of Death passed over their blood-marked doors, sparing everyone inside. Passover marked the beginning of Jewish freedom.

After nightfall that Thursday, which according to the Jewish method of counting time, was the beginning of Friday, of Passover, the Jewish Sanhedrin arrested a young man named Jesus of Nazareth. During the night they tried him, over and over, each trial a travesty of Jewish law. They hauled him before Pilate, the Roman governor, before Herod, the Jewish “king.” By 9:00 A.M. they had succeeded in beating him beyond recognition, slamming onto his bleeding head a mocking crown made of thorns, and scourging the skin and muscle off his back. They forced him to carry a heavy wooden cross through Jerusalem and up a hill named Golgotha. By 9:00 A.M. they had him nailed to that cross – staining the wood with blood in the same places the Jews in Egypt had marked their doors.