Monday, May 31, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Final Round: Crucifixion and Resurrection

Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection are of the most important part of the Gospels. Both John and Mark spend a long time talking about the Last Supper, of Judas' betrayal and the judgement of Jesus. There is one thing in which Mark focuses the most, which is on Jesus' humiliation. He talks a whole deal of how they spat on him, they whipped him and let him to die in the cross. Reading the crucifixion according to Mark was like watching "The Passion of the Christ" with less blood.
Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection three times, but nobody really understand what he says. Later, when he relates the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, everything becomes clear to everyone. Still, nobody does anything to stop it because "it is written". Judas betrays Jesus, even when he predicts it in the Last Supper, and Peter, like Jesus predicted, "That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice."(Mark 14:30).
 It seem it really was written, because even when Jesus warned them ahead, they both did what they were meant to do. What later came was a perfect portrayal of "The Passion of the Christ". Like the Gospel said:
"And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, and began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him."(Mark 15:17-20). I remember watching this in the movie, and it really was as terrible (or worse) as it sounds.
In the end, after Jesus finally dies, he is buried and three days later, he resurrects and ascends to heaven while his disciples spread his message. This part in the Gospel of Mark was a little short. John, on the other hand, focused more on the resurrection than on the crucifixion's details (then again, there were some things that appeared in Mark that didn't on John and vice-versa). Anyway, I suppose that if you combine what each Gospel says, we can have a very good account of how the life, death and resurrection of the Christ was. They all seem to have something the other one doesn't have, and so they must somehow complement each other.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Round 2: Jesus' Teachings According to Mark

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus keeps on performing miracles. Like in John, he makes many blind people see and cures the diseases on many others. There was one particular case in which Jesus cures the a man at Bethsaida. This man is also mentioned in the Gospel According to John. In both Gospels the story is:
"And he cometh to Bethsai'da; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.

And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw aught. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up; and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town."(Mark 8:22-26, John 9:1-7).
It didn't happen exactly in each Gospel, since John pursued the story of them an further, having a trial over Jesus' actions by the Pharisees later, but it's the first healed person mentioned in both Gospels. Each Gospel has very different people who were cured by Jesus, and this is the only one in which they agree.
Going back to Mark, this Gospel has many teachings and very straight forward actions Jesus believes in (in contrast with John, in which no much was mentioned except for the lamb of God and how Jesus had come to save humanity). For example, Jesus talks about marriage and divorce. If you leave your husband/wife in divorce, you are committing adultery to him/her. It seems that to Jesus, you are married forever to the person you chose. Now that I think about it, I didn't even know divorce existed in that time. In that case, I know a lot of people who are committing adultery against their partner but they seem to be OK with it. It's just modern times. I wonder if they will go to hell for that (I hope not).
Jesus also told a rich boy to give away everything he had in order to go to heaven. He then said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25). I suppose I won't be able to go to heaven then, because I wouldn't be able to leave everything I had to go to heaven. I mean, I would if money weren't so important to survive these days. People say that money isn't the most important thing, but I say that it is at least in the top five. You need money to get a good education, get a good job and then get a good home where you can take care of your family and be able to survive. Have you ever seen the movie "In the Pursuit of Happyness"? That explains it all. Money is key to survive in the harsh world we live in today. It might not be the source of happiness, but at least it's the source of tranquility. Anyway, I suppose it would have been easier during Jesus' time. I hope he doesn't kick me out of heaven when I die for having lived a comfortable youth.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Round 1: Mark vs. John

I started to read the Gospel According to Mark as my second task after reading the Gospel of John. I thought they would be the same because apparently the Gospels are Jesus' story, and there can't be too many differences in one same story.
What I have been finding as I read is that it does seem like the same story with the same general plot line. However, there are some small differences of what happened and how the story is told. Until now, there are many things that happened according to John that didn't happen according to Mark and vice-versa. Also, the two Gospels agree on some things while they differ on others.
For example, in both Gospels Jesus was able to heal people and even resurrect them. However, the Gospel According to Mark assures that Jesus was also able to perform exorcisms on possessed people. In fact, it was one of his most popular abilities. Like it was mentioned:
 "And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him."(Mark 1:32-34).
In John, evil spirits are never mentioned, and Jesus never heals so many people. Jesus' miracles were not so frequent in John, while in Mark (like the aphorism would indicate) Jesus has no real problem in healing anyone that might have faith in him.
Something that came up in Mark that I hadn't seen in John were the parables. The parables (from what I read) was like Jesus' way to spread the word of God in metaphors. For example The Parable of the Sower, were he explains how the good people are ready to receive the teachings of God. Another parable would be the Parable of the Mustard Seed that goes:
"And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it?

 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: but when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it." (Mark 4:30-32).
Again, I found in Mark's Gospel that Jesus chose his twelve disciples, and to them, he didn't give them parables, but gave them the teachings with no complications and even gave them healing and exorcist powers. John never really mentioned were the disciples came from, although he states (several times) that Judas will be the one to betray Jesus. I wonder why both Gospels say from so early in the story that Judas was the betrayer. Maybe the hate him a lot.
There is one part in which the two Gospels are totally agreeing with, which is the part of the angry Pharisees. This part (which if this Gospel is similar to John) will be seen again further on. Probably in this Gospel, the Pharisees will also be the ones who will want to kill Jesus.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


What came next on the Gospel According to John was the main reason why Jesus is such an important figure in Christianity. This is when Jesus is caught, humiliated and finally crucified by the Jews. The time when he completes his mission on Earth finally arrives. Like the Gospel said:
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:1-3).
Every Spring Break, I wonder what would have happened if it hadn't been that way. What would have happened if Jesus hadn't been crucified and later resurrected?
First of all, I've always been impressed with Jesus' will to keep on with the torture. He was the Son of God he could have avoided the whole situation if he had wanted to. However, he wanted to sacrifice himself for humanity. He loved us so much he accepted endless torture and humiliation only to save our sinful souls.  Besides, he didn't really die. He knew he was going to resurrect, and that way he could prove he really was the Son of God, and start his new alliance (religion). It apparently worked because today, more than one third of the world population is Christian.
In the end, Jesus' sacrifice was good for everyone, and it was planned so that it would end well (somehow). Still, I can't help but think how evil was incorporated into this. Judas betrayed Jesus (it had been foreseen) to the Pharisees, which were in an awful need to kill him. They wanted to see him dead for claiming he was the King of Jews and the Son of God. They were even happy to let the evil Barabbas free in order to crucify Jesus.
Peter was a very disappointing case. During the Last Supper, he claimed he would give his life for Jesus. However, like Jesus had predicted, before the crow crew, Peter had already denied him three times. What a perfect display of hypocrisy.
Pilate is sort of a different situation. He didn't want to condemn Jesus at all. He did all he could to appease the angry Jews, but they only wanted Jesus' blood. Like the Gospel said:
" And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar."(John19:12).
He really had no choice. If he let Jesus go, the Jews might make a scandal over Pilate ignoring the Caesar as the emperor. His very own life was at stake, so he couldn't sacrifice it over some weird Jew scandal. All Pilate can say to comfort himself is that Jesus didn't expect him to save him at all. I wonder if he ever felt remorse over what he did.
The happy ending of this story was that Jesus resurrected after the horrible ordeal he had to endure. I think we should all be thankful for the huge sacrifice Jesus made to save our sorry butts from burning in the fires of hell, and actually give us a chance of forgiveness.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Miracle Man

Jesus keeps on working on his mission. He keeps on spreading the word of God, and continues to make miracles. However, there are many who don't like Jesus at all. Jesus had previously cured a man at the pool of Bethesda. Many Jews grew angry because he had done so during sabbath. His breaking of the sabbath made them think he was a devil, or an evil person. They insisted on this when he kept curing people without really paying attention at the sabbath. He made a man who was blind since birth see, but he again did so during sabbath. This controversy created the following arguments:
"This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?" (John 9:16). I really don't understand how they denied Jesus after all the miracles he was performing in the name of God. During that time, science and technology were in no way capable of disproving those miracles in the name of God. There was simply no way to scientifically deny that Jesus had cured the man's blindness with spittle clay. He even resurrected Lazarus after he'd been dead for four days. There's not enough science today to prove it can be scientifically done. There's no way to prove it wasn't a miracle which required the power of God to do so. So why did they keep denying him? What was the reason for the Pharisees to think an evil person could accomplish actions of good?
Several times they tried to stone Jesus, and poor Jesus insisted on his mission. I don't understand why Jesus would try to convince them anymore. He already knew that the Pharisees would try to kill him, so there was no real hope on making them see he was the real son of God. I think Jesus always knew what his fate was, because that was the real reason why he had been sent to this world. He even warned his disciples about it in the Last Supper. Like the Gospel said:
"Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end."(John 13:1).
It had been foreseen by Jesus a long time ago, and he was fully prepared for the horrors that were yet to come.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Word of Jesus

In our path of reading the Bible and understanding the teachings of God, we have finally arrived to one of the crucial parts of Christianity: the Gospels. Surprisingly, as I started reading the Gospel according to John, I noticed I was familiar with many things that were mentioned. It appears to be that that's what I've been hearing in church, especially a few months ago during Easter Week.
In any case, this Gospel seems to be about Jesus' life as the Son of God. To me, Jesus is one of the most important characters that have ever existed. He was born from the Virgin Mary in a stable. He preached the lessons of God, and performed miracles for the benefit of the people. He came to Earth to save our poor and miserable humanity, and he shared all of human conditions except for sin. He let himself be crucified to save us, and he resurrected as the Holy Ghost so he can come back on the final day to judge us.
Jesus is the merciful part of God. In the Old Testament, God appeared as an almighty and sometimes fearful being. He had his temper, and he had no mercy over those who acted against his will. Jesus came to Earth as a fragile baby, and had to grow up as a human child to later become an adult. He worked to accomplish his mission of spreading the word of God, and bringing a message of hope of an eternal afterlife. Like he proclaimed:
"He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:47-51)
 His message was also of mercy and forgiveness, which is a very important part of the Catholic faith. Even when one has sinned, Jesus will be able to forgive you and protect you. Like he did with the woman caught committing adultery. The men asked Jesus if he would let them stone her, and he replied that those who were free of sin could do so freely. When everybody realized it, they went away in shame and Jesus asked, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:10-11).
I really believe Jesus is a vital part of the Catholic faith, and if it weren't for his teachings it would be very hard for me to believe in the Catholic religion. I like Jesus' message, and even if some people say he didn't exist, I think the idea of Jesus is a great one. I can believe in his teachings whether he existed or not, or even if he wasn't the messiah at all, even if he was just a regular person. I feel his message is a very valuable one.