A terrible wrong

If someone does us a terrible wrong, we want to tell the person how we feel. That is how Joanne Nodding felt even though she was a victim of a horrendous crime. Most rape victims never want to see their attacker again but she was different. So she decided to face the man who raped her by asking to meet him through the restorative-justice programme. She believed it would help her find closure. Surprisingly he agreed.

She told the Guardian newspaper the meeting finally took place five years after the rape. The first thing she noticed was how scared he was. He had expected her to shout and scream at him and tell him how much she hated him. But she tried her best not to lose control. One reason was she felt that he would then feel he had this power over her and to lose her emotional control would have been like a victory for him. She said that hatred eats us up and we can’t change what has happened. So she had been determined not to let the crime ruin her life. Neither did she want him to be burdened with this belief.

At the meeting he gave an apology for what he had done and expressed relief that she had emotionally survived the event. She ended the meeting by telling him she had forgiven him and asked him to forgive himself so he could also move on.

Posted on7th February 2011CategoriesHealing emotionsTags,, , , , , ,

Anger – How can it be healed?

Have you been hopping mad recently? Some people temperamentally seem to be more easily roused to anger than are others. Yet, to some extent we all get irritated at times. We feel cross when others attack what we love like our child or pet animal. It could be something we love in ourselves, that when attacked, causes us a sense of wounded pride. Offensive put-downs thrown at us in a condescending tone of voice also can get to us.

anger

Irritation can easily spiral into full-blown anger when we retaliate in kind and the heated things that are said – which on reflection we often do not even mean – hurt both parties. It is possible to harbour resentment for years especially if we continually avoid someone or allow ourselves to slip into the habit of not conversing with them when we do have an opportunity.

Making up with the person who caused you anger

Making up may be easier said than done. And not every attempt at reconciliation works. After all, it takes two to tango. We need to eat a little humble pie even if the other person who triggered anger does not.

“The fellow who thinks he knows it all is especially annoying to those of us who do” (Harold Coffin)

Even when we swallow a bit of pride the other person may not stop his or her ego trip. Unless the opponent meets us halfway, the attempt at finding a way forward may possibly fail.

To increase the chances of success we could try saying what we think in a low-key way. By seeking a common understanding, we are giving the relationship every chance to get past this difficulty. It means looking at the situation from the other person’s point of view; not assuming that he or she is entirely at fault, using our imagination to step into their shoes whilst at the same time not avoiding thorny issues. It is possible to voice our feeling of anger without exaggerating and without casting blame. We can try to think of different points of view rather than one wrong one and one right one.

Sometimes we do not try hard enough to make up and rarely are the first to make a conciliatory move. One fallacy is to believe that “a relationship that needs working at is not worth having.” However, satisfying relationships are unlikely to develop unless all concerned are prepared to be committed and to make an effort.

We may wrongly assume that the other person who has hurt our feelings should know how hurt and angry we feel. Yet people cannot see into each other’s minds and however close we are to others, they will never be able to know exactly how we feel unless we let them know.

Using good sense when dealing with anger

We need to show good sense when relating to others. Making unwise compromises that maintain destructive relationships is not good sense. In other words, doing good to others and forgetting their wrongdoing may not always be wise if the behaviour is harmful and persists.

There may be violence within the home or sexual infidelity with no remorse or effort to change. Then our acceptance of the other person’s limitations, rather than simply saying we forgive them, may be a more realistic goal. In extreme cases sometimes it is better to part company.

Letting go of very deep-seated hurt and the consequential anger may take considerable time that requires real or imagined encounters with the perpetrators of our pain. A few of us have been so very badly abused and offended against that it has caused a long-lasting suppressed state of anger. We may firstly need professional help to work through our shock and denial and become more aware of the effects of the terrible wrong done to us. This may involve starting to appropriately express feelings to others of hurt, grief, anger and rage. It greatly helps if the fact of the wrong-doing is acknowledged by those previously involved.

Great anger in South Africa

Desmond Tuttu the black clergyman living in South Africa during the apartheid period and many other black Africans had every reason to feel very angry at the treatment meted out to them by the white supremacists in power over them.

  • Separate public facilities were enforced on racial lines.
  • To all intents and purposes only white Africans had the vote.
  • Black Africans were legally confined to rural reserves covering only about 7% of the country whereas they consisted of 68% of the population.
  • Segregated townships for blacks working in urban areas were set up. Blacks had to carry a passbook identifying themselves and showing whether they were entitled to be in a white only area.
  • Husbands and fathers were separated from their loved ones as a result of a pernicious system of migratory labour.
  • Their children went to overcrowded schools in black townships and lived in inadequate shanty housing with a woefully inadequate system of transport.
  • Black people who protested suffered long periods of detention without trial and there were deaths in detention. All this meant that the black people suffered frustration and humiliation. They were a subject people.

Although not a pacifist, Desmond strongly believed in responding to injustice by asserting ones human dignity and rights in a courageous way with a view to possible reconciliation rather than revenge. He advocated civil disobedience rather than violence as a response to oppression. But when he and others joined illegal protest marches they risked being shot by police. Desmond with other religious leaders often intervened to try to help diffuse situations where violence was a distinct possibility calming down the anger and aggression.

This was the action of someone who believed that problems could be solved by people sitting down together to discuss their differences rather than resorting to violence. He said that the campaign should be characterised by discipline and dignity because they were all involved in a moral struggle and that non-violent protest could only succeed resulting in their freedom.

There were outbreaks of violence by black people but the overwhelming response to the violence of oppression was peaceful protest. Despite the great anger felt the struggle was to be based not on hatred but on the hope of freedom and reconciliation.

Many commentators had thought that bloodshed, violence and civil war were inevitable because a people can take only so much injustice and despair. But they were wrong. In my opinion international pressure and the emergence of political leaders of the calibre of Nelson Mandela and Frederik der Kerk were necessary for the avoidance of civil war but what was crucial in this outcome was the prevalent spirit of love and justice in the nation – other than within the white right-wing reactionary forces. The spirit of love was the message of the New Testament when Jesus said `Love your enemies’

As has been said if we instead were to follow the old idea of revenge embodied in the teaching of `an eye for an eye’ soon all people would be blind and then where would we be?      Longer version of this article

Copyright 2013 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Compassion – Where does it come from?

Compassion is defined as a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune. It is accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. This desire, it is said, can be so strong that some people are willing to sacrifice their own basic comforts to help others.

One view is that people act with compassion because of a future benefit to themselves. For example they hope for the reward of heaven or the prize of good karma. However, I would ask, is it not possible for one to feel selfless compassion for the sake of those in need rather than for any advantage to oneself?

If you doubt that this is possible, just read a book like the City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre. This is an amazing true story about the Anand Nagar slum in Calcutta in the 1970’s. Based on thorough research, including two hundred interviews in various languages, it has a fascinating authentic ring.

The reader discovers the plight of peasants who came from famine-struck rural areas in India. Death from malnutrition was a very real possibility. They slept on the city streets and, if they were lucky, worked very long hours in appalling conditions to scrape together survival rations.

I found this to be a tough book to read but it demands the reader’s attention. Its power comes from the vivid detailed non-stop descriptions of the terrible hardship yet compassion of the inhabitants. There are amazing accounts of a generosity of spirit of those, themselves, in dire need.

Mehboub

Head of a Muslim family, Mehboub lived with his wife, 4 children and his mother in a single room, six feet by four, with no window, water or electricity. He was a wiry, muscular little man in his thirties with shaggy eyebrows.  After 14 years of employment at the naval yard, it was no longer possible to put off giving him a contract of employment. And so he was laid off. With no income, this sturdy man began to waste away. His stomach racked with hunger, he walked miles each day in search of any way of earning a crust of bread. The family had to survive on the 20 rupees that the eldest boy, only aged 10, earned each month in a sweat shop. There, the child for 12 hours per day, dipped the clips for ballpoint pens into a chrome bath, whilst inhaling toxic vapours from the metal under electrolysis.

At night, when the cries of his youngest daughter’s empty stomach could not be distracted with a song or story, Mehboub  would take her in his arms and go into the neighbouring courtyard to beg for a piece of chapatti. A poor person would never close his door to him. Despite their desperate lives, they helped each other when they could. That level of compassion was often found among these extremely poor people.  Perhaps, if you have experienced help, you acquire a sense a duty to help others in the same plight as yourself.

Blind Christian widow

The blind widow was so thin that her shrivelled skin accentuated the angles of her bones. Leprosy had reduced her hands to stumps and eaten away her face. In a corner of her room, her four grandchildren, aged between two and six years, slept on a piece of threadbare matting. Her neighbours were all extremely poor Hindu. Yet, everyday they took turns bringing this Christian woman a dish of rice and vegetables, helping her wash, doing her housework, looking after her grandchildren. Helping someone in need because of wanting what is best for them is loving others as oneself.  This broken woman suffered from no lack of love.

Bandona

Bandona was four years old when her family set out for Calcutta. Five years later her father died. Alone, her mother brought up four children by retrieving metal objects from the rubbish heaps and selling them to a metal scrap dealer. From the age of twelve, after a two-hour bus ride and walking three miles, Bandona worked in a workshop that turned out parts for trucks. She went out at five o’clock in the morning and rarely got back before ten o’clock at night. Earning just four rupees a day, she become her family’s only support when her mother was struck down with tuberculosis.  This was just enough to pay the rent and guarantee the family a bowl of rice or two chapatis once a day.

On Sundays and feast days, instead of resting, Bandona would prowl the slum  looking for distressed people to help. She knew how to listen to the confessions of the dying, how to pray with the families of the dead, wash the corpses, or go with the deceased to the cemetery or the funeral pyre. No one had ever taught her, yet she knew it all through intuition derived from friendship and love. Her extraordinary capacity to communicate enabled her to go into any compound, any hut, and sit down among people without encountering any prejudice of caste or religion. When you really have compassion for others you have concern for their well-being more than your own comfort. This is an act of selfless love.

Source of compassion

Kind-heartedness and generosity may come naturally to many people but is not compassion that amounts to self-sacrifice, a gift? I believe it is a transforming one that can only come from the humanity of the Divine Being of Love.

“It is a great consolation for me to remember that the Lord, to whom I had drawn near in humble and child-like faith, has suffered and died for me, and that He will look on me in love and compassion. (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composer)

Copyright 2016 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

 

The Raven and the Dove

October 19, 2014 – Toronto

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

  1. Introduction

    1. Remember that the story of Noah and the Ark comes from the Ancient Word, written in an “ancient style” – factitious; a made-up story that is nevertheless true.

      1. The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers that we read as a lesson is an example of the same kind of thing in the Lord‘s own words in the New Testament. It’s not a story about real people, but the lesson it teaches is truth itself.

    2. Review story

      1. The earth filled with wickedness

      2. Noah commanded to build an ark

      3. Locked inside, there is rain for 40 days and nights, flooding the earth and destroying all the wicked things.

      4. Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark remained alive. And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days (GEN 7:24).

      5. The waters subside. It takes another 150 days until the ark rests on the ground.

      6. Another 40 days pass until Noah opens the window and sends out a raven.

        1. The raven flies back and forth but does not return.

      7. Then Noah releases a dove.

        1. The first time it does not find a place to rest, so it returns to the ark.

        2. After 7 days he tries again. This time the dove returns with an olive leaf.

        3. After 7 more days he sends the dove again. This time it does not return and he knows that it is finally safe to leave the ark and start his new life.

  2. Main Body

    1. Contrast the raven to the dove.

      1. Black, carrion eating. The raven represents the last states of the falsity that was the cause of the flood in the first place.

      2. It flies back and forth, gradually disappears; a picture of the waning falsity which allows for the emergence of the new states of truth from the Lord’s Word.

    2. Doves = the truths and goods of faith residing with a person who is to be regenerated (AC 870)

    3. The question is why is the dove released 3 times?

      1. The subject is the three states following temptations in the regeneration of this man (AC 871)

    4. Dove 1 – No rest, comes back to the ark.

      1. ‘The dove found no rest for the sole of its foot’ means that no good and truth of faith at all had as yet been able to take root.

      2. ‘It returned to him to the ark’ means good and truth appearing to be the good and truth of faith with him.

      3. ‘For the waters were over the face of the earth’ means that falsities were still there to overflowing.

      4. ‘He put out his hand’ means his own power.

      5. ‘And he took hold of it, and brought it in to himself into the ark’ means that self was the source of the good he did and of the truth he thought. (AC 873)

      6. [The first time the dove is released represents] a state when people imagine that they themselves are the source of the good they do and of the truth they think. And because they are still in the greatest obscurity, the Lord lets them cling to that opinion. But as long as they cling to that opinion which is false, no good deed they do nor any truth they think is the good or truth of faith. For whatever a person carries out from himself cannot be good since it has come from self, an impure and most unclean origin. (AC 874)

      7. While [the person who is being regenerated] was inside the ark, which means his state prior to regeneration, he was in captivity or prison, hemmed in on every side by evils and falsities, which are ‘the flood-waters’.

      8. Consequently ‘it returned to him to the ark’ means that good and truth meant by the dove came back to him again. Any good at all which a person supposes that he does from himself comes back to him, for it has self in view. AC 876)

      9. The waters – falsities – are still surrounding the ark, so even though the person is attempting to do things that are good, still at heart there is an element of selfishness. A lot of our immature efforts to do good have a selfish motive; we want to go to heaven! Later, as we mature, we eventually begin to do good because it’s the right thing to do, because we are beginning to learn how to love the neighbour.

    5. Dove 2 – Finds an olive branch which it brings back to Noah.

      1. ‘He waited yet another seven days’ means the beginning of the second state of regeneration,

      2. ‘seven days’ meaning that which is holy, because now charity is the subject.

      3. ‘And he proceeded to send out the dove from the ark’ means a state of receiving the goods and truths of faith.

      4. ‘And the dove returned to him at evening time’ means that these started to show themselves a little,

      5. ‘evening time’ being similar in meaning to pre-morning twilight.

      6. ‘And behold, in its mouth an olive leaf plucked off means a small measure of the truth of faith,

      7. ‘leaf’ meaning truth,’ olive good that stems from charity,

      8. ‘plucked off’ the fact that the truth of faith derives from that charity, and ‘in its mouth’ the fact that it was made visible.

      9. ‘And Noah knew that the waters had abated from over the earth’ means that all this was so because the obstructive falsities were now fewer than previously. (AC 879)

        1. Those waters of falsity are being pushed back by the improving state of regeneration.

        2. The “leaves” of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations.

        3. It’s important that it is an olive leaf, for the olive (which produces oil) introduces the element of charity tied to the truth represented by the leaf.

      10. The waters continue to abate: “when a person is being regenerated truths are planted in him towards which falsities are turned by the Lord. It thus appears as though they have been dispersed, dispersed by means of the goods which he is given.” (AC 887)

    6. Dove 3 – Does not return, demonstrating to Noah that it is finally safe to open the ark.

      1. ‘He waited yet another seven days’ means the beginning of the third state,

      2. ‘seven days’ meaning that which is holy.

      3. ‘And he sent out the dove’ means a state of receiving the goods and truths of faith.

      4. ‘The dove did not come back to him any more’ means a state of freedom. (AC 888)

        1. The water – the falsities – have finally been pushed back enough that the person can begin to act from freedom and rationality. They get out of the ark and walk about on the earth, breathing the fresh air, moving about as they wish.

      5. ‘It happened in the six hundred and first year’ means a finishing point.

      6. ‘At the beginning, on the first of the month’ means a starting point.

      7. ‘The waters dried up from over the earth’ means that falsities were not at that time apparent.

      8. ‘And Noah removed the covering of the ark, and saw out’ means the light, once falsities had been removed, shed by the truths of faith, which he acknowledged and in which he had faith.

      9. ‘And behold, the face of the ground was dry’ means regeneration. (AC 893)

  3. Conclusion

    1. When we think about our own spiritual states it’s hard for us to get a sense of perspective because we only experience the ‘now’. We dimly remember the past, and we cannot know the future.

    2. The power of this story, then, is that it gives us a picture of the progress of the states of regeneration.

      1. If we are in the early stages, it can give us hope for the future, and guide us on the path.

      2. If we are in the later stages, it can give us a perspective from which to look back and be reminded of the progress that we have made.

      3. But, if nothing else, this little fragment of the Noah story holds within it the promise and certainty of the Lord’s constant care and guidance, and demonstrates that He does have a plan for us, and even when the storms rage around us, when the evil spirits try to enslave us, He can still can lead us to our heavenly home. Amen.

First Lesson: Genesis 8 – from the Children’s Talk

Second Lesson: MAT 21:33-44

“Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘ The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvellous in our eyes’? “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

Third Lesson: AC 892.

Once someone has been regenerated he enters for the first time into a state of freedom. Previously he has been in a state of slavery. It is slavery when evil desires and falsities predominate, freedom when affections for good and truth do so. As long as he is in a state of slavery, a person never perceives what his situation is. Only when he enters a state of freedom does he start to do so. When he is in a state of slavery, that is, when evil desires and falsities predominate, the person who has become subject to them imagines that he is in a state of freedom. That however is sheer falsity, for he is at that time being carried away by the delight that accompanies desires and resulting pleasures, that is, by the delight accompanying the loves that are his own…. It is however the devilish spirits, in whose company and so to speak fast moving stream he is caught, who carry him away….

[2] No one ever enters into a state of freedom until he has been regenerated and is being led by the Lord by means of the love of good and truth. When he has entered that state he is enabled to know and perceive for the first time what freedom really is, because he can at that point know and perceive what life is, what the true delight in life is, and what happiness is…. When persons who are in a state of freedom from the Lord see the life that goes with evil desires and falsities, and even more when they experience it, they are as appalled by it as people who see hell opened before their eyes

Prayer, Betrayal, and Arrest

A sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto – April 6, 2014

  1. Jesus had been teaching in the smaller towns and villages outside of Jerusalem for three years. His miracles and radical ideas had attracted quite a few followers, and at the same time had attracted the attention and anger of the chief Priests and Elders of the church.

    1. Then, at the time of the Passover when the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with visitors, Jesus rode into the city on a donkey, a symbol of royalty, and then went into the temple. There He cleaned out the people who were selling animals for sacrifice and the money changers, saying that the temple was “His house” and that they had made it a “den of thieves1.”

      1. This was a powerful message. One might have expected that having entered as royalty, He would go to the palace to confront Herod. Instead, He went to the temple, showing that instead of being an earthly king, it was His intention to be the king of a spiritual kingdom.

    2. All these things, both taken individually and as a whole, enraged the leaders of the church. They believed they had just cause to arrest Him, but they feared His popularity. If they were going to act, it would have to be in secret.

      1. If Jesus had spent the night in some private home in Jerusalem, away from the crowds, He surely would have been arrested. He knew that would be the eventual result, but He needed to control the time and circumstances, so He and the disciples left Jerusalem every night and rested in Gethsemane, on the Mount of Olives.

    3. On Thursday, the Lord and His disciples celebrated the Passover in Jerusalem. It was here that the Lord instituted the Holy Supper, and it was from this meal that Judas Iscariot departed to lead the chief priests and the soldiers to arrest Jesus.

      1. After the Passover meal was completed, the Lord returned to the Mount of Olives, and it is here, on Thursday night, where the events we are interested in unfold.

  2. (Mat 26:36-56) Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” {37} And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. {38} Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” {39} He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” {40} Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? {41} “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” {42} Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” {43} And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. {44} So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. {45} Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. {46} “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

    1. Three” = complete. (Many passages)

    2. Sleep” = a lack of perception of spiritual things. (Many passages)

    3. Cup” = temptation. (Many passages)

    4. AC 1787. …Every temptation is attended with some kind of despair (otherwise it is not a temptation), and therefore consolation follows. He who is tempted is brought into anxieties, which induce a state of despair as to what the end is to be. The very combat of temptation is nothing else. He who is sure of victory is not in anxiety, and therefore is not in temptation.

      [2] The Lord also, as He endured the most dire and cruel temptations of all, could not but be driven into states of despair, and these He dispelled and overcame by His own power; as may be clearly seen from His temptation in Gethsemane….

      [3] From these passages we may see what was the nature of the Lord’s temptations-that they were the most terrible of all; and that He felt anguish from the very inmosts, even to the sweating of blood; and that He was then in a state of despair concerning the end and the event; and also that He had consolations.

    5. But, how is it that the Lord, who is the God of the Universe, all powerful, all knowing, could be tempted?

      1. First of all, we need to be clear that His love of the human race was never tempted. He was only tempted in regard to how it would happen, the truth of the matter. And even this could only happen if He metaphorically tied one hand behind His back, by taking on the limitations of a physical, human body.

        1. AC 2813. And bound Isaac his son. That this signifies the state of the Divine rational thus about to undergo as to truth the last degrees of temptation…. That to “bind” is to put on the state for undergoing the last degrees of temptation, is evident from the fact that he who is in a state of temptation is no otherwise than as bound or chained…. “Isaac the son” is the Lord’s Divine rational, here as to truth…. All the genuine rational consists of good and truth. The Lord’s Divine rational as to good could not suffer, or undergo temptations; for no … spirit inducing temptations can come near to Good Divine, as it is above all attempt at temptation. But Truth Divine bound was what could be tempted; for there are fallacies, and still more falsities, which break in upon and thus tempt it…. It was Truth Divine which was no longer acknowledged when the Lord came into the world, and therefore it was that from which the Lord underwent and endured temptations. Truth Divine in the Lord is what is called the “Son of man,” but Good Divine is what is called the “Son of God.” Of the “Son of man” the Lord says many times that He was to suffer, but never of the Son of God.

      2. It’s important to remember that although the Lord was going through temptations throughout His life in the world, they are only recorded in two places: His 40 days of fasting in the wilderness2, and the events surrounding the crucifixion.

        1. In the wilderness series we see three different kinds of temptations. This was to show that all the Lord’s temptations could be divided into these three types, and therefore they were a symbol for them all. Here the forty tells us that it was a temptation, and the three tells us that the series was complete.

        2. Notice also that when on Gethsemane, the Lord goes away to pray three times. The three tells us that this was not the only time He prayed, but that it was to represent all His prayers throughout His time in the world, the complete set.

        3. And the number three occurs again in the resurrection in that He rose on the third day. The number three associated with His resurrection indicates that the state of being in the world in a human body was now complete and the next state, that of the glorified Divine Human, was about to begin.

      3. Earlier that evening, at the Passover meal, Jesus said to the twelve, “one of you will betray Me” (MAT 26:21). What’s interesting is that when He said that, the twelve responded by asking him, “Is it I?” (MAT 26:22) and when Judas asked Him the same question, the Lord responded, “You have said it” (MAT 26:25).

        1. Whatever motives Judas may have had at the time, the fact is that this was part of the Lord’s plan, something that needed to happen.

          1. This becomes clear when we think about the situation. The Lord and the twelve were camped in an olive grove on a mountain top some distance from the city. If there was any light at all, it would have come from small campfires, and all the men would have been roughly the same age and dressed in roughly the same clothes. The men coming to arrest Jesus would have needed someone who knew Him well to be able to positively identify Him so that they could be sure to arrest the right person.

          2. The word “betray” also has the meaning of “to reveal” as in “the child’s giggling betrayed his hiding place,” although by taking things into his own hands and working secretly with the Chief Priests and Elders for money there was certainly an element of the traditional concept of betrayal.

    6. {47} And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. {48} Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” {49} Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. {50} But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. {51} And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. {52} But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. {53} “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? {54} “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” {55} In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.{56} “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

      1. Notice the sequence of events as described by Matthew.

        1. A large crowd of armed men arrived, likely also carrying torches, led by Judas. One could easily imagine that they would have been both seen and heard a long way off, and if the Lord had wished it, He and the disciples could have slipped away in the dark.

        2. When the men seized Jesus, a fight broke out. The disciples were carrying swords. They drew them and attacked the men in the crowd, leading to the injury to the servant of the High Priest.

        3. Jesus healed the servant, admonished the crowd for coming in secret when He had been daily in the temple, and then meekly submitted to them.

        4. It appears that the disciples were indeed expecting Him to call down a legion of angels, or at least use His powers in some other way to defeat this crowd, but once they realized that He was giving Himself up without the fight for which they had been preparing for years, they fled in confusion.

  3. There are several things we need to reflect on in preparation for Easter.

    1. The importance of doubt in temptation

    2. The Lord’s two states of Temptation and Glorification.

      1. When He taught and acted with authority, He was in the state of Glorification, feeling one with the Father within.

      2. When He expressed anger, or doubt, He was in the state of Temptation, feeling distant from the Father within, and doubting that the course He was on was the correct way to ensure the salvation of the human race.

    3. The Lord’s love was never tempted, only the process.

      1. The hells could not touch the Lord’s Divine Love, but they could introduce falsities in the forms of alternative plans that would have the ability to create doubt, thus temptation to deviate from the original plan.

    4. While His temptations are more grievous than we can experience or imagine, still they are recorded so that we can by guided and comforted by them.

    5. How to do they comfort us? If the Lord can fight and overcome in these circumstances, surely He can fight and overcome for us, too.

    6. Finally, remember that the goal was redemption of the human race.

      1. Not wiping away sin, but restoring spiritual freedom by conquering the hells and putting them back into order.

      2. Every moment of every day we are free to think about anything we want, and we are free to choose our own course. That is freedom of choice in spiritual things. It makes it possible for each one of us to go to heaven. And for that we should be eternally grateful. Amen.

Hear now the Word of the Lord …

First Lesson: Isaiah 53:1-12

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked– But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

Second Lesson: AC (Elliott) n. 3381

3381. ‘Because Abraham hearkened to My voice’ means the union of the Lord’s Divine Essence with the Human Essence by means of temptations.

[2] That these considerations are meant by hearkening to the voice of Jehovah, or the Father, is also evident from the Lord’s words uttered in Gethsemane, in Matthew, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will but as You will. Again, for the second time, My Father, if this cup cannot pass from Me unless I drink it, Your will he done. Matt. 26:39, 42; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42.

But because Jehovah or the Father was within Him, that is, He was in the Father and Father in Him – John 14:10, 11 – ‘hearkening to Jehovah’s voice’ is used to mean that the Lord through temptations united the Divine to the Human by His own power, as is also clear from the Lord’s own words in John, As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down My life,3 for the sheep. For this reason the Father loves Me, that I lay down My life,4 so that I may receive it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself; I have power to lay it down and I have power to receive it again; this commandment I have received from My Father. John 10:15, 17, 18.

Here end the lessons. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and keep it. Amen.

1MAT 21:13, MAR 11:17, LUK 19:46

2Matthew 4, Mark 1, Luke 4

3Literally, soul

4Literally, sou