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Jesus to be Rejected, Killed, and Raised


JESUS TO BE REJECTED, KILLED, AND RAISED

REJECTION

The elders, the chief priests, and the Scribes represent the Sanhedrin, the supreme council that met at the Temple, to decide on important issues concerning the Jews. It comprised seventy- one members of these groups under the presidentship of the High Priest. Since they had power over the Jews in religious affairs, they were the authority to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. Instead, they condemned him to a painful death through a shameful crucifixion, intending to eliminate him forever.

God had experienced rejection from Israel. Though Samuel, in his old age, appointed his sons as judges over Israel, they turned out to be corrupt to the core. So, the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint a king to rule over Israel. When Samuel prayed to God with displeasure at the people’s demand, the LORD consoled him, saying, “Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king. They are acting towards you just as they have acted from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this very day, deserting me to serve other gods” (1 Sam 8:1-8). Samuel told the Israelites, “But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your evils and calamities, by saying, ‘No! You must appoint a king over us’” (1 Sam 10:19).

Isaiah had predicted the rejection of the Messiah. “He was despised and rejected by all, a man of sorrows and familiar with grief; like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we considered him of no account” (Isa 53:3). That prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus during his trial by Pilate. When the Roman governor offered to set Jesus free as the prisoner that could be pardoned during the Passover, the Jews selected Barabbas and rejected Jesus, clamoring instead for Jesus’ crucifixion (Mt 27:15-23).

While teaching the Parable of the Tenants (Mk 12:1-12), Jesus concluded by quoting from Psalm 118:22–23, “Have you not read this scripture passage: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’?” (Mk 12:10) Hence, Jesus was sure of the official rejection from the Jews, and God designating him as the cornerstone of the new Israel, the Church. The rejection Jesus faced from the Sanhedrin came as no disappointment to him because he was expecting it in fulfilment of the scriptures. His disciples, including modern day Christians, also would face rejection when working for the Kingdom of God.

WHY JEWISH LEADERS REJECTED JESUS?

The elite Jews were ashamed of accepting Jesus as the Messiah and rejected him because of his approach being different from theirs:

1. The disciples of Jesus were ordinary people or past sinners. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fishermen, and Matthew was a tax collector.
2. Jesus would not observe the Sabbath in the traditional sense. Instead, he would heal the sick on that day.
3. While performing miracles, Jesus was absolving sins, something that only God could do. So, they accused him of blasphemy.
4. Jesus dined freely with tax collectors and other sinners like Zacchaeus.
5. Jesus criticized the Scribes and the Pharisees using harsh terms like hypocrites, blind guides, brood of vipers, and whitewashed tombs.
6. He reinterpreted the Laws of Moses like adultery, divorce, retaliation, and murder, giving importance to the intentions behind the sins.
7. Jesus allowed his disciples to break the Jewish traditions like the washing of hands and Sabbath observances.
8. Jesus favoured the Samaritans and the Gentiles through his parables and dealings with them.
9. Jesus’ ministry seemed as a failure at the end of his public ministry because of his arrest, public trial, physical and mental torture, and shameful death on the cross. However, he emerged victorious by rising from the dead.

So, the elite Jews were ashamed of acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah and rejected him. Jesus also will discard them at his second coming in glory to judge the living and the dead.

JESUS: TO BE KILLED

Jesus came into the world as the Lamb of God to be slaughtered in Jerusalem by the priests as the perfect sacrifice for the remission of the Original Sin of humanity. Jesus told his disciples, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45; Mt 20:28). When Jesus approached John the Baptist at the River Jordan, the latter introduced him to the people thus: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29).

In retrospect, Jesus is the Lamb that Abraham told his son Isaac that God would provide to sacrifice at Mount Moriah, that is Jerusalem. Instead of Isaac, God gave Abraham a ram for sacrifice, and in time provided the promised lamb, Jesus (Gen 22:1-19). That Lamb had to be sacrificed to fulfil God’s plan of salvation and to renew the Covenant in the blood of the Saviour (Lk 22:20).

RESURRECTION

Jesus was certain of his resurrection that was to follow on the third day after his death and had predicted it several times before his death on the cross. Whenever he spoke of his passion and death, he always referred to his resurrection on the third day. Jesus willingly endured the physical and mental torture for the sake of the kingdom, fully confident of his victory. As Christians, we also accept sufferings for Jesus with the same certainty of our resurrection and reward in heaven.

Besides revealing his passion, death, and resurrection to the disciples, Jesus referred to it very freely in his dialogues with the Jews as well. After Jesus had cleansed the Temple, the Jews demanded of him a sign to prove his authority to do so. Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The evangelist then reported, “But he was speaking about the temple of his body” (Jn 2:18-22). The chief priests and the Pharisees remembered this after his crucifixion and approached Pilate to arrange guards at the tomb of Jesus for three days so that his disciples would not take away his body and claim his resurrection (Mt 27:62-64).

The resurrection of Jesus on the third day is associated with the prophecy of Hosea before the fall of Israel to Assyria, “Come, let us return to the LORD, for it is he who has torn, but he will heal us; he has struck down, but he will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence” (Hos 6:1-2).
The story of Jonah has resemblance to the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. “But the LORD sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jon 2:1). “Then the LORD commanded the fish to vomit Jonah upon dry land” (Jon 2:11). When the Scribes and the Pharisees asked for a sign from Jesus to ascertain his messiahship, he said, “No sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights” (Mt 12:38-40).

Jesus rose after his death on the third day or when the third day began. So, he did not spend the entire three days in the tomb. The difference in this gospel passage, “after three days” and the truth can be an error in the manuscript’s copying, considering that manuscripts were at that time both written as well as copied manually by hand. Another possibility is that Mark calculated the time of his sacrificial death from the Passover when Jesus established the Holy Eucharist as a new covenant that was fulfilled in his sacrifice on the cross. His self-sacrifice began on Thursday, though it was completed on Friday, and he rose on Sunday.


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