Any man of any faith that reads the Gospels of the Christian faith will agree that many of the lessons that Jesus taught were excellent reflections on morality. He was a revolutionary figure that portrayed God as a fatherly figure, leveled himself with the poor, taught men to love their neighbors, and is remembered as a man that defended the rights of women in situations that his fellow men were willing to condemn a female. Jesus is one of only a few men in history that no one has condemned with any significant support.
Many men of various faiths including Mohammed and Ghandi viewed Jesus as being a great prophet. One of the quotes often attributed to the latter says “”Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Therefore, I believe that while Christians all around the world remember the death of their savior, Masons should remember the event as well. Except that as a Christian Mason, I don’t only view the death of Jesus as a necessary part of God’s plan, but as mankind’s hatred for pure truth. The following is the account of the crucifixion as given in the book of Matthew.
Then Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the kingof the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond. Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?” But he did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.
During the feast the governor was accustomed to release one prisoner to the crowd, whomever they wanted. At that time they had in custody a notorious prisoner named Jesus Barabbas. So after they had assembled, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Christ?” (For he knew that they had handed him over because of envy.) As he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent a message to him: “Have nothing to do with that innocent man; I have suffered greatly as a result of a dream about him today.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Christ?” They all said, “Crucify him!” He asked, “Why? What wrong has he done?” But they shouted more insistently, “Crucify him!”
Jesus is Condemned and Mocked
When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. You take care of it yourselves!” In reply all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them. But after he had Jesus flogged, he handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole cohort around him. They tripped him and put a scarlet robe round him, and after braiding a crown of thorns, they put it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand, and kneeling down before him, they mocked him: “Hail, king of the Jews!” They spat on him and took the staff and struck him repeatedly on the head. When they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they were going out, they found a man from Cyrene named Simon, whom they forced to carry his cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. But after tasting it, he would not drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat down and kept guard over him there. Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!” In the same way even the chief priests – together with the experts in the law and elders – were mocking him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him! He trusts in God – let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.
Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
I picked Matthew’s version for the reason that it gives the least dogmatic version of Jesus’ dying words. In this version, it is easier to imagine ourselves in the place of the man that they called the King of the Jews. Take a moment to imagine yourself in his position. You have labored over the past few years to teach men to love one another, you have even loved your enemies, you have healed the sick, and cared for the poor. There is no reason for you to be accused of any crime, but you are immediately found guilty by many of the people that you helped through your teachings. They do not even bother to make up a charge for which you should be executed.
You are nailed on the cross, with the narrow metal shafts of the spikes cutting into the flesh in your wrists and feet. Your lungs are beginning to collapse, you feel that your throat is on fire. Men are mocking you asking you to save yourself if you are indeed so powerful. The thorns with which they have adorned your head are gouging into your skull, the pain is unbearable. You have given your life to the service of your God and have only worked for man’s benefit and in your state of agony, you feel yourself slip away. As you choke down one final breath of air, you cry out “ELOI, ELOI, LAMA SABACTHANI?” only hoping that some higher power will bring death faster in order to relieve your pain.
So as Masons, let us reflect on this thought: how do we regard those that teach a doctrine that makes us question our own beliefs? Will you be the man who has labored for truth and suffers for his work? Or will you be the accuser and the executioner? The choice is up to you.
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