All over the world, Christians and sympathizers of the Christian faith set aside times for various feasts and celebrations. While most of the feasts are cultural – Hebraic – quite a few have become universal. Again, some of the universal Christian feasts, rights and celebrations are a metamorphoses of some elements of ancient Hebrew practices. I recall a particular feast of the Hebrews that has transformed as it found its way into Christianity and has become a formidable aspect of the faith. This is the PASSOVER feast, which has become the Lord’s Supper. This, and all other Christian feasts are rooted in the origin of various aspects of life in the faith.
It is always beautiful to make reference to the origin – beginning – whenever any matter of considerable importance, in Christianity, is slated for discussion. Today, just few days to the all-important Christian feast of Easter, I am enthused by the very solemn celebrations that await Christians all over the world this year. This appears to be the original design for the feast. The Easter that Christians celebrate is usually a package. It is an omnibus celebration within which are: The triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem; the betrayal, arrest, trial and condemnation of the Lord Jesus Christ; then the crucifixion, death and burial of the Lord Jesus Christ; and finally, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.Christians group the events from the triumphal entry of the Lord to His arrest and crucifixion as holy, thus constituting the holy week. Between His burial and resurrection, which is only one day, is a kind of interregnum that has ever remained enigmatic to all people. Then there is the last event, his resurrection on Easter day. Easter is the climax of all the events and easily perceived as the most important feast. The reason is simple; it is the day put aside to remember the salvation of humanity by the benevolent Almighty God. But it is the most solemn of all the events that spanned one week in the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, although people think the crucifixion day is. Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was not explosive, physically. It was received with a lot of doubts. It set people thinking and searching for what is prophesied or written. It dragged people back to their memories for either confirmation of refutation. In all, there is always a triumph for the truth and the truth is that His resurrection is real.
One event that stood out among all that happened in the holy week took place on the 5th day, Thursday. The Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples joined other Jews to observe the Passover. Interestingly, this feast is an annual event and at no other time is it recorded that the Lord and His disciples observed it – sometimes I wonder how little records show or how much records omit. Passover is a feast in remembrance of the miraculous deliverance of the Hebrews from Egypt. The Hebrews slaughtered an unblemished lamb and smeared its blood on the doorpost to their homes as a sign of protection by God, who would deliver them by a Strong Hand. That is a precursor to the actual appearance of Jesus, the son of God whose blood would be shed and as the blood of the lamb was a token of deliverance of the Hebrews, so the blood of Jesus is an actual instrument of salvation for all.
During the holy week, the people would unlearn and relearn in order to understand God better. One of the formidable lessons is that the Strong Hand of God is Jesus of Nazareth recorded in the Bible as the Right Hand (Arm) of God. The same that delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian taskmasters. He has come to the world physically to yet deliver human beings from a more grievous taskmaster – sin – “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21); He is to be slaughtered, for the purpose of salvation, in the manner in which the unblemished lamb was slaughtered, earlier in time, for the purpose of deliverance; and just as the blood of the lamb was smeared on the doorpost of the faithful at that time, so is His blood shed in the heart of the faithful at this time.
But there are few developments. First, the major question is how is only one person going to save all the people? It is a sincere question and a sincere answer is yes, only one person can save – justify – all the people because only one person (Adam) sinned for the condemnation of all the people. Then how is this going to be carried out? It is through a systematic spiritual process, which involves a realization that sin has separated human beings from God; by the way, God created human beings in His image, to be like him. Human being were meant to be one with God, but sin separated humanity from God. The only way to bring humanity back to God, Divinity, is to atone for the sins of humanity. The Atonement – At one ment – programme was what the Lord Jesus Christ came to carry out.
He was made a human, although He is God. He lived like a human and faced the prosecutions and misfortunes and lures and enticements that the regular human being battles with; however, he operated above all these and for that reason, could have returned to His divine self, unobstructed but he, once more, chose to submit Himself to the authorities for a trial and denunciation for all manner of turpitudes He never tangled in. The great lesson of the season is that Jesus of Nazareth, born of a woman, naturally as a human being, is also the first son of God and showed the nature of God – what God is like. His appearing corroborates the divine words at creation – God made man in His image and after His likeness. His mission is therefore to ascertain that if so be it that man was made like God, man can thus be as unblemished as God.
He accomplishes this mission but unfortunately, the system of the WORLD, assuming Him to be like any other heaped accusations of depravity on Him. Naturally, He was expected to plead “not guilty,” but he utilized the opportunity very well and accepted the guilt – not of His but of those who will be sons of God, with Him as the first son. By standing in for as many as shall become sons of God (“But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. Jn. 1:12); by accepting to die for their sins – ATONEMENT – He has reconciled them to God, so that they could be the image of God, that is one with God. Jesus Christ is therefore God and Man, at – one – ment. Therefore, let He who has performed the Atonement of our sins be glorified forever, Amen!
Prof. Maduagwu writes from University of Lagos via email@example.com