June 3, 2018 - Freedom

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him,
"Where do you want us to go
and prepare for you to eat the Passover?"
He sent two of his disciples and said to them,
"Go into the city and a man will meet you,
carrying a jar of water.
Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room
where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"'
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready.
Make the preparations for us there."
The disciples then went off, entered the city,
and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover.

Mark 14

This is only the beginning of this week’s Gospel. It is followed by Jesus’s consecration of the bread and wine which rightfully usually gets most of the attention.  But note that the Gospel of John leaves that part out entirely.  There is profound importance in just the timing of the Passion story: Jesus is celebrating Passover the night before he is arrested, tried and executed.  In some ways the Passover story is very different from the Passion.  Passover commemorates when God freed the Israelites from slavery “with a strong arm,” symbolized by the presence of a shank bone on the Seder table. The Passion commemorates when God allowed His Son to be executed as a criminal in the most horrendous way. No strong arm was evident. In some ways, the two holy days are parallel: Christians assert that the Passion marks the moment when God freed us from slavery again.

From what slavery are we freed? Some would say it is was our slavery to some inherited guilt – and gloss over that the concept of inherited guilt seems profoundly unfair. Shall not the judge of the earth do justice?  Jesus himself pointedly rejects any notion of inherited sin in John 9:1-12, to the anger of the Pharisees.

The principle challenge of Judeo-Christianity is to understand what God accomplished on Mount Sinai and Calvary.