…forget Harleys, real rebels ride donkeys

[The Leaven – exploring the relationship between science and religion (cont)]

The philosophies of Jesus predominately passed by unnoticed until the last year of his life. His teachings in Galilee had not reached the major religious centre in Jerusalem but when he did arrive in the city he caused a major disturbance. Firstly, he arrived in a messianic role but in a humble manner riding on an ass, as prophesised by Zechariah. In Eastern tradition horses are associated with war whereas the donkey is a symbol of peace:

I have seen how my people have suffered. Shout for joy you people of Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you! He comes triumphant and victorious but humble and riding on a donkey.
[Zec. 9.9]

“Tell the city of Zion. Look, your king is coming to you! He is humble and rides on a donkey”
[Matt. 21.5]

Secondly he forced the vendors and money-changers from the temple in direct conflict with the behaviour of those obeying the Torah.

Jesus went into the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables and money-changers and the stools of those who sell pigeons, and said to them, “It is written the Scriptures that God said, my temple will be called the house of prayer, but you are making it a hideout for thieves!”
[Matt. 21. 2-13]

In the days leading up to the Passover everyone visiting the Temple to worship or make a sacrifice had to pay a temple tax, apart from the Pharisees, High Priests and Rabbis of the temple. A special currency was used for the tax which could only be obtained from money-changers, who usually offered unfair rates and charged a fee for their services. Money-changers were often relatives or associates of the Pharisees and High Priests. As a consequence of his disruptive actions religious leaders and Roman authorities considered Jesus to be a rebel who had the potential to influence a Jewish uprising.

Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem. Painting by Simonet 1892.

Shortly after Jesus leaves Jerusalem he senses that his predicament is precarious and arranges a meal with his disciples. Here, unleavened bread is once again used to symbolise doctrines and philosophical thoughts. The last supper was thought to occur during the festival of unleavened bread,  kept to commemorate the Israelites flight from Egypt featured in the Old Testament. It seemed to be Jesus’ intention to share the Passover meal with his disciples but there is strong belief that he was in fact executed before the Passover ceremonies were due to take place on the Sabbath [Mk. 14, 12-21; Lk. 22, 7-13, 21-23; Jn. 13, 21-30]. Even though the last supper may not have been a Passover meal it was portrayed as one by Jesus who saw himself as the sacrificial lamb, the wine was symbolically the sacrificial blood and the unleavened bread used to represent his body:

While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples. “Take and eat it,” he said; “this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and gave it to them. “Drink it, all of you,” he said; “this is my blood, which seals God’s covenant, my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in my Father’s Kingdom.”
[Mk. 14. 22-25]

In following posts this passage will discussed in more detail. Following information supplied by Judas, the high priest has Jesus arrested and following a brief court appearance he was accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death. He was brought before Pontius Pilate who was reluctant to condemn Jesus because he did not understand the charge but accepting that he was politically dangerous ordered his execution.

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