By D.Thomas

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” [PHIL. 2: 5-8].

Disco (“to learn”) inferno (“hell” or “lower regions”) can mean “learn through suffering” or “undergoing”, and if that doesn’t fit Jesus–!

Imagine the Creator of Universe(s) learning what it is to be human (Being, being human being); every human is and has been in a physical time and place. Each is every subatomic particle in every gas, liquid, and solid molecule in all the cells of their bodies, and is ever agitated or excited by wavelike forces holding some parts together and dissolving, dividing, and shedding others, digesting and excreting in life-long exchange. Each organism is constantly bumping against world and absorbing world and chemically altering world (with every breath); world is in us, makes us, and we, it; and this is the physical existence which Being-Which-Forms-Energies-and-Energizes-Forms took on– to experience, to undergo, to share with the living things.

We see him sleeping, in the crowded fishing boat (where he calmed the storm to calm his disciples); thirsty– on the way through Samaria, on foot (where he met and spoke with the outcast woman at the well); and hungry, — eating meals with Tax Collectors (Matthew, Zaccheus), and Pharisees, and friends all the time:

The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners,’ “ [MATT. 11:19].

How strange it must have been for Elohim, Great Spirit, God Almighty, to only see, hear, feel, smell, taste what his limited-range body could see– how much light we do not see!– and hear (less than dogs!) and touch, which depends upon where the actual body actually is. How strange and small and sensitive is the frail physical being, which microbes can kill.

.…”Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed…For he bore the sin of many, and made intersession for the transgressors.” {ISAIAH 53: 4-5].

In this Holy Week, which is the week of Passover, (death passed over, and there was deliverance), and falls in the month, this year, of Ramadan, (the words of the Holy Book were given to Muhammad the Prophet), and is the week marking the last of Jesus’ earthly, human life, when he faced his arrest and crucifixion, death and Resurrection, his believers believe, I am writing again because Christ followers are told to share the Good News (which is the meaning of “Gospel”)–

The Good News that: Jesus died for us.

He came to live with those below (inferni; Paul often called those not yet saved, “the dead”, “dead in sin” ) and in this place of suffering (infernus ), Jesus put on (infero) flesh to bring on or bring into effect, remission of sins: Jesus died for our sins.

But how is painful, humiliating, undeserved death in any way good news?

We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn,” [MATT. 11:17].

In the 21st century, in this technologically “advanced” society and with all our scientific discovery, can we even discuss Sin? What is it? Does it still exist, does it still matter, is it a thing at all? If it even is, how did Jesus “take on” our sins and die for us, because of our sins, and how does this “free us from sin” as Christians are taught? We still die, we still suffer in life.

When Peter declared that he believed Jesus was the Christ, Jesus said that this knowledge came from God, and told them that,

” The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and must be killed and after three days rise again.

He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.’ ” [MARK 9: 31-33].

Satan. More discussion for the ages: Is there a devil? Are there Angels? Are angels messengers and servants of God, are the fallen ones those demons so common in the Gospels’ accounts of turn -of -the- millennium Judea and the greater Mediterranean area? Most religions, most cultures, speak of spirits, some who are good, some malignant. Jesus exorcised demons, who knew him by name and purpose. (JAMES 2:19 :“Even the demons believe– and shudder!”)

Throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures, and by Jesus himself, Satan is spoken of as very real, as a Liar, Tempter, Adversary, Accuser, and Enemy. A Power or force of Darkness, a fallen angel– a being of some kind, and so an energy, an influence; the flick of a sharp tail or tongue sends ripples through space and time as every sound, every gravitational and electromagnetic, strong, and weak force wave does, or as neutrinos do, still coursing through the universe from the first light, the scientists say.

As all our acts have repercussions, “butterfly effects.”

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread,’ “ [MATTHEW 3:16- 4: 3].

Was the Creator Of All Universes ever hungry, before? How strange to feel this body, tired, light-headed, chilled, slowed, brain-fogged by low blood sugar, weak, dry-mouthed: living bodies need nutrients, and human ones cannot photosynthesize. Satan went for the weakness, the new and uncomfortable sensation, the need which God would have had little practice managing: “You’re God? Excuse me, ‘God’s Son’. Make food, if you are hungry.”

God could make sons of Abraham from stones (MATT. 3:9), and on the parade entry into Jerusalem (now called Palm Sunday), Jesus said that if the people did not cry out, the stones would (LUKE 19:40); of course he could make bread. Later Jesus fed 5,000 men and who knows how many women and children from five loaves of bread and two fish. God (life, nature) makes many grains from one seed every growing season. That is not the spiritual food we also need, which is the Word of God. (It doesn’t say how long it took Jesus to answer the devil.)

Satan, described as the archetypal “ huge, fiery-red dragon” whose “tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky” in the heavens, in Revelation 12, was flung to earth:

Therefore be glad, O heavens, and you that dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger, because he knows that he has only a short time! And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he went in pursuit of the woman who had given birth to the male Child,” [REV. 12:12-13].

Satan turns up in Genesis 2 and lures Eve (which means “living“) and Adam (“adamah”= ground; “adam”= man) into eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, telling Eve,

“You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity, “[GEN 3:4-5, Amplified Bible].

Their disobedience was found out, and God cursed the Serpent and made him the enemy, They made Eve to crave her husband and to have pain in childbirth, and made Adam have to work and sweat, now, to grow food, but “Cursed is the ground because of you” (v 3:17).

God covered them with animal skins (animals died for our transgressions right away, in our place) and sent them out of Eden, where they had their first children, Cain and Abel, and Cain committed the first Sin.

Abel became a shepherd, but Cain was a farmer. After some time Cain brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the LORD. Then Abel brought the first lamb born to one of his sheep, killed it, and gave the best parts of it as an offering. The LORD was pleased with Abel and his offering, but He rejected Cain and his offering. “ [GEN. 4:3-5a].

I naturally have difficulty with this– why did God prefer a killed animal to crops? A footnote in the Amplified Bible reminds that God had just cursed the ground because of Adam; here was Cain, Adam’s first son, bringing fruits of this cursed ground, or just doing his job and bringing some of what he’d grown for food; they did not eat animals yet; that was not allowed by God before the Flood. The ground awaits the Lamb of God, the Christ, and salvation.

Cain became furious, and he scowled in anger. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why that scowl on your face? If you had done the right thing, you would be smiling; but because you have done evil, sin is crouching at your door. It wants to rule you, but you must overcome it,” [GEN 4: 5b-7 (TEV)].

Cain had a choice. He knew what was evil, and what was good; with this knowledge and this warning from God, he killed his brother anyway.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him…” Jesus told the Pharisees who wished to entrap him (JOHN 8:44); “he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The devil lied about the words of God, and both Adam and Cain lied to God about their crimes.

Be self-controlled and alert,” Peter tells us (1 PETER 5:8);”Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him.”

What, then, is this Sin we are freed and saved from, which Jesus Christ paid for? Transgression– breaking sacred laws; debts– we owe God life and breath, gravity and energy and knowledge; all the good gifts of earth, sky, water and fire, the trees and grasses, and even our bodies which are God’s, not of our own making, not our own, Paul says in First Corinthians (6:20) “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body!” Our spirits, as children of God, are not born from sex or human will, but by or of God, John’s Gospel says in his first chapter (1:13), and Jesus told Nicodemus (JOHN 3).

The Book of JAMES says:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? you want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures….Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil , and he will flee from you,” [JAMES 4:1-3, 7].

I am not about to tell you, “This and this and this are sins, and this is not,” with an updated list of laws– go to Paul’s epistles if you want 1st century church rules. We mostly all know that wrongs are wrong, harmful acts performed with cruelty or malice are wrong, and things that make us feel guilty or ashamed are wrong for us, but these might not be universal, and personal feelings are not the best thing to go by, since these are changeable by circumstance. How we know or feel that there is right and wrong, and that this or this is right or wrong is, to Christian (and late convert) writer C.S. Lewis, one argument for a God which gave human beings a moral code in their design.

Our ideas of Hell come from the graphic-novel-esque details of Revelation and Dante’s Inferno, the first part of his poem, The Divine Comedy, where specific sins are punished in defined circles of hell; Dante’s persona was lost and walked with his guide, Virgil, through Hell and Purgatory and Paradise; he became more like the condemned while he was wandering the infernal regions toward the circle that was for Betrayers, and was Satan’s own.

Jesus remained sinless, while on earth.

I will suggest that, sins involve decision. Choice. One’s heart and mind, one’s thought and attitude, one’s desires and values– all this, the inner person, is where sin lies, and our hands and tongues act it out.

“From out of men’s hearts come evil thoughts” Jesus taught.

A person is tempted when he is drawn away and trapped by his own evil desire. Then his evil desire conceives and gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death,” [ JAMES 1: 14-15].

Is there any among you who is wise and understanding? He is to prove it by his good life, by his good deeds performed with humility and wisdom. But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don’t sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual and demonic. Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace,” [JAMES 3:13-18].

Ecologists and plant biologists have found that many plants thrive most when they are carefully harvested, when deliberate, careful fires are burned, when they are thinned out but not clear-cut, when some of them are used.

In the Hebrew Book of Genesis, the first humans were given the job of “ruling”– stewarding, managing– the plants and animals so that they would thrive, be fruitful, not overgrow or overgraze, and we were endowed with imagination and intelligence for this work; those who claim to believe in and follow the Bible as the Word of God should recognize that, in that case, the current mass extinction of species and rising temperatures, polar ice melt, the rising and warming seas and disappearing habitats and health of the planet is on us: the planet, our climate, shows how we have done our first job.

Can our beautiful planet be saved? Will we ever know Peace and Harmony, as humans?

On the Friday, Jesus died.

Jesus said that nothing is impossible with God. God can do more than we can ask for or imagine. If we open to This, They will transform our minds, our hearts, our inner selves, healing our deepest psyches, reminding our cells that they are of the stuff of stars.

Christus descendit ad infero.

He descended to the underworld to tell the Good News of eternal life to, and to raise, the dead.

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. The creation was subjected to frustration not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” [ROMANS 8:19-21].

The Good News is that Christ will come to set this right, too– to restore creation.

I believe that:

On the third day, Christ rose from the grave, and appeared, alive, to some of his women disciples, then to some of the men, and to as many as five thousand people over the following month, and then,

He ascended into heaven, which is where He Is.

“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him– his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form was marred beyond human likeness–” [ISAIAH 52: 13-14]

“Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” [IS. 53:3b]

“Oh LORD, you brought me up from the grave…

“You turned my mourning into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent,” [PSALM 30: 3, 11-12a].