Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday: The First Day of Holy Week

Today is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. Today, Jesus came to Jerusalem amidst hosannas and the waving of palm branches. But merely five days later, his own disciple would sell him to the Jewish authority for thirty pieces of silver (worth around 13,000 dollars today). What created such hatred in the Jews, in his disciples, in his former friends? What did people accept Jesus to accomplish?

Where do we look for God? Do we look at the every day person and realize that any one of those people could have been Jesus? Jesus was not a priest, he was not a highly acclaimed Rabbi - not in the eyes of the Ruling Authority anyway. Apart from miracles, Jesus seemed like an ordinary teacher from the outside. Later, he was even a criminal. God chose to be a criminal!

Why doesn't Christ take himself off the cross? Why doesn't he prove to them, prove to everyone that he is in fact the Lord of all? Jesus told us earlier in the Gospel of Luke in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

"If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

The Hebrew scriptures are filled with Messianic prophesies. If the Jews had listened to Moses and the prophets (particularly Isaiah), they would have understood that the Messiah would come as a suffering servant. The ones who mocked Jesus did not believe in him. Without faith, miracles do not exist. With faith, we trust that death does not have the last word, that God will triumph in the end. For in the end, Jesus did rise from the dead, but the only ones who saw him were those who believed in him. This is how God chose to reveal himself to us - not by taking himself off the cross but by submitting himself to his creation. The proof that Jesus is God is not in his miracles because those who do not first have faith will never believe in his miracles, will never believe that he conquered the grave. It is from his words and in his suffering that we know God face-to-face.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Show Us The Father...

I have been thinking a lot recently about the relationship between the Father and the Son. Here is what the Scriptures say:

Jesus said to [Thomas], “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Phillip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Phillip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves” (John 14:6-11).

I must admit that certain spiritual practices do not seem very Christian to me. Some of these practices supposedly help Christians “see” the Father have a relationship with the Father alone. However from John 14, it is clear that Christ is quite insulted by this because it fails to recognize the fact that the fullness of God has been manifested in the person of Jesus. Thus, those who want to do the Father’s will only have to look to the Son. It is not correct to try to unite our spirits with some divine, omnipresent energy. It is not correct to start with the Son and try to go beyond to the Father. The Son is not an intermediate being that we must go beyond to understand God more fully. If we want to understand the Father and do his Will, we follow the Son and his will. When we attempt to unite our spirit with some spirit in the sky, we create our own God, a God similar to a Hindu or Buddhist deity where each god is one aspect of the divine being. Christ is not one-third God, nor is he only an aspect of God. All that the Father wills, the Son has manifested. Those who want to go beyond Christ do not seem to understand that Christ is the fullness of God. 
So, when we ask like Phillip, “Show us the Father” we are telling Christ that we do not know him.