When evil prevails | Daily News

When evil prevails

Jesus had not had any rest nor had any food for some time when he was unjustly arrested, judged, sentenced to death on a cross and then stripped of his clothes, scourged, crowned with thorns, spat upon, mocked and made to carry the cross to Golgotha to be crucified. The agony preceding his arrest, the unbearable sufferings he underwent, the degrading crucifixion, death and resurrection became the foremost events that occupied the minds of his twelve Apostles and the first disciples.

They became the prominent elements of their first proclamations on Jesus. As such the last days of Jesus preceding his death have got recorded in some detail in the New Testament the reliable historical witnesses to the harrowing events of the suffering and the crucifixion of Jesus. Crucifixion was a form of punishment taken over from the Persians by the Romans who added to it further forms of torture to make it more painful and heinous.

Not only the New Testament writers, but also non-Christian Romans and other Jews have testified to the death of Jesus by crucifixion and the worship given to him by his followers, the Christians. Among them is Josephus the Jewish historian who around 93 AD stated that Pontius Pilate had ‘Jesus, a wise man to whom was attracted both Jews and Gentiles, put to death by crucifixion at the instigation of the chief men in our midst’.

NOT WHETHER BUT WHY JESUS DIED

It is therefore unreasonable for anyone seven centuries later or in our own day to say without reliable evidence something that is contrary to history and as to what actually happened and presume to say that Jesus of Nazareth did not die crucified on the gibbet of the cross. Today, most scholars do not question whether Jesus died on the cross. In fact at the end of a dialogue among Jews, Muslims and Christians in Ramallah just four years ago, Prof. Ravi Zacharias in the company of a prominent Sheik asserted that “we are standing not far from the place where Jesus was crucified and died and it is time that we give up asking whether he died by crucifixion and began asking why he died so”. The Sheik did not contest that. And there are many other Muslim scholars today who do not deny the death of Jesus by crucifixion.

“TO SERVE, NOT TO BE SERVED”

Jesus, when he said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10.10), “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), “I have come to cast a fire on earth, and I wish it were already burning!” (Luke 12.49), he proclaimed the meaning of his life as a life meant to give a new meaning and a fullness of the life of others and to imbue it with the richness of selfless love. Until the world discovers the fire of love that Jesus brought to earth that extinguishes all manner of torching, arson and scorching, mankind will from time to time envelop itself in devastating conflagrations.

Explaining Jesus’ attitude to life, Paul said to the Philippian Christian followers “Jesus, being in his very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to cling to, to be used to his own advantage; instead, of his own free will he gave up all he had and took the nature of a servant. He became like a man and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death – his death on the cross. (Paul’s Letter to the Philippians 2.6-8). Jesus did not count equality with God as something to be tightly grasped and held as a privilege of immunity from want, deprivation, tiresomeness, hunger, thirst and every human limitation.

Even in the midst of suffering, he did not revile anyone; he only prayed to God saying, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Gospel of Luke 23.34). Jesus, though he had committed no sin, suffered an agony and died because sinful men plot to destroy good people not being able to tolerate what a good person does.

MANY SLOW TO LEARN

Today, how many would grab and cling to privileges denying even human rights of other people? The powerful men of today too refuse to learn what the Noble Teachers of old have taught. The world including the nations with Christian roots have not learned the lessons of the Cross and have not only sacrificed millions of human beings in internecine warfare for power, position and prestige, but they together with many other nations are also spending trillions of dollars for training and preparing for war saying they are just being ready for defence.

The intelligence of the power gets devoted to inventing more sophisticated instruments, stratagems and tactics of war. Training for the war conducted in military academies in all rich and poor nations is a constituent part of all governments. And Field Marshalls, Five-star Generals, Air Marshalls, Admirals are dressed up in glamorous uniforms as leaders of war, as if warring, destroying by bombing whole cities and annihilating whole nations a very honourable and respectable profession; so much so that men in the armed forces are supposed to wear their warrior uniforms even to celebrating their very important festive day, the day of their wedding. Nevertheless, the commanders who lead men to war have a nagging in their heart that many of the men they send will be killed.

Human beings’ capacity for unheard of evil lay before our eyes in the ways of causing hunger, thirst and malnutrition among millions of people, displacement and homelessness among other millions, the senseless devastation of property and annihilation of the innocent and the readiness to destroy the planet earth itself. But leaders of humanity have not yet begun even to explore the many dimensions and possibilities of living in a community of love. Humanity has not yet begun to sufficiently explore the many dimensions and possibilities of love.

They gather as ‘United Nations’, ‘Commonwealth’, ‘Organizations of Non-Aligned Nations, African States, American States, Davos Group and other groups with various names only to make some make-shift arrangements over problematic relations among nations, trade and commerce, banking and finance, economic recession and growth. Military build-ups and production of means of mass destruction contradict the policies regarding education, health, agriculture and productivity and progress of nations.

Those at the summits of power have neither begun to understand the meaning of human civilization nor ventured sufficiently to explore the possibilities of international peace and peace within nations. Probing and investigating elimination of hate and the many dimensions of education in cooperation, solidarity and love are furthest from their minds whereas they remain the basis of human survival.

UNDERSTANDING THE GREAT TEACHERS

Neither Jesus Christ nor Gautama Buddha came or went about dressed in military or imperial attire. Not having properly learned and understood what they taught, many things have not only got cockeyed within our countries but gone wrong with the human race itself. Humankind’s governing powers have not yet learned that when even a small group of men do not stand to reason, they could descend to the depths of evil and drag many to despair and even crucify God himself as the mob led by chief priests did that Friday in Jerusalem. They have also not yet learned that Jesus’ love could be so boundless that in spite of the malice, wickedness, corruption and sin of the human beings, he remains forgiving, compassionate, faithful and loving to the very end of his life. It is for this reason that the Cross has become a sign of God’s unfathomed love and the possibility that love conquers even death.

A man should learn that in every human being, love remains a living divine spark within, capable of being fanned into a flame that could not only absorb without even a murmur every torture, evil, sin and death itself but express a genuine undying love, like the love of Jesus crucified. When humanity learns and understands that lesson, that will be the day of peace and true victory not just for the privileged under a so-called superpower but for all mankind.

 


 

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