"The greatest triumph of the devil in the modern age is convincing people that he doesn't exist."
Even as a boy, I didn't understand the contradiction between Palm Sunday, which marks the triumphal arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem, and the days that followed, culminating in his crucifixion on Good Friday.
If Jesus knew he was to die on the cross for the sins of mankind, as Christians maintain, then why the set up of Palm Sunday?
Christians say things such as, "Though Jesus felt happy with the welcome he received on Palm Sunday, only He knew that he was going to be betrayed and killed soon."
From any rational perspective, that makes no sense. And though the mystical dimension was in full flower with Jesus, it isn't irrational. To live and act from a higher source than the mind of man in this world requires faith, not a suspension of disbelief.
The term suspension of disbelief has been defined as a "willingness to suspend one's critical faculties and believe something surreal; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment."
That's what we do when we go to the movies. And too often that's what people do when they go to church. Perhaps that's why evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics are the biggest voting bloc that put evil in the White House.
I attended Catholic schools until I was a junior in high school. Three years after being involved in an instance of violent abuse on a good friend by a nun in the 8th grade, I left the Church at 17.
It was neither whim, nor teenage revolt, since I'd questioned, observed and researched the Catholic faith while in high school before announcing one Sunday that I wasn't going to Mass that day or ever again. Except for funerals and weddings, I never have.
Over 20 years later, immediately after recovering from a brush with death, an elderly Chinese woman approached and spoke evocatively of the Buddha and Jesus. This was not the detached Buddha of transplanted Buddhism in America, nor the deified Jesus of Catholicism and Christianity. She evoked the essence of Buddha and Jesus as human beings.
After that I began to ask, what actually happened to Jesus? Was he meant to die on the cross, as Christians believe, or did something go terribly wrong?
A contemplative is someone who takes the time, allows the space, and applies the art of completely quieting the mind in order to attain "union with God." Many insights come during deeper states of meditation. One insight is that things went very wrong the days after "the people saw Jesus riding on the donkey, and knew He was the prophesized Messiah."
It's called Palm Sunday because, "in Biblical times, the palm branches symbolized peace and victory, and the crowd threw palm branches at the feet of Jesus, acknowledging that their hero had arrived."
So what happened in Jerusalem? Put simply, it appears that Jesus overestimated his fellow Jews, and underestimated the dark forces arrayed against him.
Jesus' had met and dispensed with the devil in the desert, and had every reason to believe that he had vanquished evil. His ministry had been attracting huge crowds, and he had every reason to believe that he could carry his message from the countryside into the capital.
But the devil (yes it exists in human consciousness) laid a trap for him. In addition, the people were not up to his call for radical change, and Caiaphas was able to organize a plot and convince the Sanhedrin. They held a mock trial of Jesus, turned the people against him, and got Pontius Pilate to execute him.
Did Jesus know he was going to die as he rode triumphally into Jerusalem? If some of his last words on the cross are to be believed---"my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"---No. That also shows that Jesus was a human being, not God, as Christians blasphemously believe.
An incident prior to Jesus' arrest, purportedly in the Garden of Gethsemane, attests to this insight. "Hematidrosis is a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress."
Why did that happen if Jesus knew all along he was going to die on the cross? Either he didn't know, and the realization that he was about to die a horrible death caused it; or he did know and had a very human reaction.
While he was teaching, there's a story of Jesus encountering a man who asked to follow him. Jesus said come. The man said he first had to go back and bury his father. To which Jesus responded, "Let the dead bury their dead."
That indicates that he lived in a culture like the present one in America. It also attests to why, after over two years of manufactured outrage on cable TV, evil still rules this land.
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. firstname.lastname@example.org
Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.
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