Sunday, February 1, 2009


Last week we were discussing the physical literalness of Jesus' death: that not only did Jesus' Human nature die on the cross, but so did his Divine nature....which the kids don't grasp right away, because of course, God can't die, right? Well, in this case he can and did, and how that can be is a mystery....which we don't understand, but then God is more than we can figure out. And remember, Adam & Eve thought they had God figured out.....turned out to be a big mistake on their part.

So some of the things we look at as part of this need for the Sacrifice to be, you know, sacrificed, killed, are bits of Leviticus 4 & 5 (they already know about killing & eating the Passover Lamb). There's a lot of this going on:

"the bullock shall be killed before the LORD...and the priest shall make an atonement for him as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him." The bit about atonement & forgiveness is repeated 9 times in these two chapters. You'd think with all that sacrificing, atonement, and forgiveness, everybody'd be going to heaven, but noooo. Why not?

I get a volunteer Jewish sinner to come up & whisper to me some sins, and as a Levite priest (and also a sinner) I say, "Uh, oh, that sin's gonna cost you a lamb and two doves. A really nice lamb, not some scrawny thing you got on sale." The sinner hands over the sacrifices, I kill them, make atonement, he's forgiven. All done, off to heaven? No, the problem is our sins are such an offense that we can't make it up to God on our own. It's like when I was a callow youth and broke a neighbor's window. My ability to atone was at the level of taping the pieces back together. A nice gesture, but it's still a busted window. I wound up needing my father to apologize and fix the window to get things properly restored. So, as I needed my father to atone for my mischief, we need a perfect Lamb to perfectly atone for our sins.

Now I ask, if we need Jesus the perfect Pascal Lamb's death to atone completely for our sins, to redeem us, did all these good people doing their best go burn in Hell before Jesus was crucified? The kids intuit correctly, no.....but...

That was it for the class period. Next class will start with recalling from the Creed, "he descended into Hell"......where was that exactly, and was Jesus dead when he was there?

First we'll discuss Sheol and Gehenna, Hades & Hell. I'll run through the parable about Lazarus in Abraham's bosom.

Then I'll hand out the scene at the top of the page, known in English as the Harrowing of Hell; in Greek, the Anastasis (ανάστασις) , the Resurrection.

[Hey, let's digress and check out the Greek on the fresco: Over Christ's head is H ANAsTACIC, the Anastasis (the odd-looking T is a contraction of a lower case s and and a capital T). To the left is IC, short for IECUC, Jesus; to the right, XC, you guessed it, XRICTOC, Christos. I wonder, considering all the time a fresco or mosaic takes, why save 10 minutes by abbreviating? Am I digressing?]

In the Anastasis we'll see dead Jesus breaking down the gates of 'Hell,' and yanking Adam & Eve out. On the left we see old King David (now there's an expert sinner...can you say Uriah and Bathsheba? They know that story.), young King Solomon, and John the Baptist (the 'Forerunner'). On the right, Abel (the 'Protomartyr') with his shepherd's crook, and other heaven-bound folks I don't know...probably prophets.

I anticipate a lot of 12-year-old brains on fire; we should have some good discussion.

This will lead us into the next chapter which runs from Jesus' burial up to the Ascension and possibly including Pentecost.