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A terrible and terrific person

But on the first of unleavened bread the followers [of Jesus] drew near to Jesus, stating, “Where do you wish that we may make you ready to eat the passover sacrifice?” and he said, “Go into the city for the DEINA [see below] and say to him, ‘The Teacher states, my set time is near. I will do the passover sacrifice for YOU with my followers.’” And the followers did as Jesus had arranged for them, and they made ready the passover sacrifice. So, it becoming evening, he rested together with the twelve. Matthew 26: 17-20
 
Apparently, fewer than 40 single releases have ever sold over 10 million copies.  But one of these remains fresh in my memory of the time my father died. It’s called “Seasons in the Sun” and has the words, “Goodbye my friend it’s hard to die/ When all the birds are singing in the sky/ Now that spring is in the air”.

That best-selling single described many things the singer regretted leaving behind. Within that regret there were also many expressions of futility and meaninglessness about stuff that seemed important at the time.

What do people do when, despite being very fit and healthy, they know for sure that they will die within hours? What would you do? Try to avoid it?

In Jerusalem in the spring of AD 30 one man in good health was about to die.
Matthew, Jesus’ biographer, wrote about it like this - on the first of unleavened bread the followers [of Jesus] drew near to Jesus, stating, “Where do you wish that we may make you ready to eat the passover sacrifice?” and he said, “Go into the city for the DEINA [see below] and say to him, ‘The Teacher states, my set time is near. I will do the passover sacrifice for you with my followers.’” 

 
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‘Man is a peculiar puzzling paradox, groping for God and hoping to hide from him at the self-same time.’ (William A Ward, writer, 1921-1994) 
Yes, Jesus’ time was very near. He would do the passover sacrifice – an event similar to Jersey’s liberation day. This passover sacrifice first took place in Egypt around 1350 BC. It had been celebrated ever since then.

The Egyptians had enslaved God’s people – to do all their hard work.

The LORD God warned the Pharaoh about his repeated refusal to free these slaves. On one particular day, if he refused, all the first born in Egypt would be killed that very night. But the Jewish houses would be protected if, and only if, they prepared a lamb and used its blood to mark their homes as those not to suffer death. 

They were to eat roast lamb that evening in preparation for being freed. A lamb died to save them and to set them free.

What about the strange word Jesus used to identify the person whom they would meet in the city of Jerusalem when finding a place to celebrate and recall liberation? Here are his words again. “Go into the city for the DEINA and say to him, ‘The Teacher states, my set time is near. I will do the passover sacrifice for you with my followers.’” 

Who was the deina? It’s a “him”. But it’s not a name. It’s a singular noun. Greek experts say that its meaning oscillates between the terrible and the terrific. Jesus knew who it was they would meet in the city. But he used this word to describe the person for whom, along with his own followers, he would do the passover sacrifice. 

 
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‘All the evidence of history suggests that man is indeed a rational animal, but with a nearly infinite capacity for folly...’ (Robert McNamara, US Secretary of Defense, 1916-2009) 
What does this mean? Will Jesus in fact do the passover sacrifice for this terrible yet terrific person (as well as for his followers)? Are you like that – terrible and terrific? A mixture of bad and good like me. Did Jesus do the passover sacrifice to set free people like that as well as the Jews?

Matthew continues: Jesus’ followers did as he had arranged (in advance) for them and made ready the passover sacrifice. Well into the evening of that day, he rested together with them. “Goodbye my friend it’s hard to die/ When all the birds are singing in the sky/ Now that spring is in the air”.

Yes, it’s hard to die. But Jesus knew he had a magnificent work to do. He had to do the passover sacrifice, to be the lamb to go through death so that others would never die. He would do it for the terrible and terrific to set them free.

The passover sacrifice around BC 1350 then also set free captive slaves from slavery. From what would Jesus, the slain lamb, set free the DEINA

 
Sinner Syvret

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