Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey

The Lamb by Paul Klee (l879-1940)

As Jesus enters Jerusalem for Passover, hailed as a king, he is about to bring to light what kind of king he is.  A king whose kingdom is not of the world of materialism, wealth and presumed powers, is instead an embodied state, whose temple would be destroyed and raised in three days.  This king who is to overturn the tables in the temple of Judea as an act against the racketeering around festival sacrifice, is about to change the customs, beliefs, rituals and methods that had been entrenched for centuries.  The unblemished male lamb that God ordered to be sacrificed for Passover (in Exodus 12:5) is to be replaced by a sacrifice of such infinite proportions that it subsumes all traditional ritual slaughter.

Jesus’ kingship is established early: John the Baptist exclaims him to be “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1 John 14:29) and who teaches by the truth of who he is:  “Learn from me because I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matt 11:28/29). Jesus is a king whom priests, scribes and eventually Pilate cannot fathom.  Pilate especially cannot understand why Jesus offers no self-defence so he washes his hands of his blood.  Jesus’ trial was about to open up a scene that had nothing to do with saving himself and everything to do with saving others, “who were like sheep that had gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).   The prophet Isaiah wrote that “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent.” (Isaiah 53:7)

Theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote that Jesus’ meekness is his spiritual personality and that such meekness is derived from supernatural love. Supernatural  love has its expression in patience and inward peace.  This is the reason that Jesus’ personality stays steady throughout his torture and crucifixion.  His non-violent and meek disposition expresses “a benevolent, transfigured holy love.” * in the face of violence, degradation and death. By undergoing such suffering with humility and meekness, the Lamb of God “breathes the victory of the spiritual sphere over the material.” **

Jesus’ sacrifice of carrying “the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6) transformed the traditional sacrificial passover into an eternal feast.  As Paul’s letter invites, “let us celebrate the festival not with the old yeast of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”   (1 Cor 5:7)

*   Transformation in Christ p. 321

**   ibid p. 318/9.

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