Believing in the 21st Century:Chapter Two

a lay Christian examines his faith..

By James Ross Kelly

Christian bells toll—despite the shortcomings of Christendom, Evangelic and otherwise. Adherents of a modern material-polytheistic paganism however, should at least seriously consider the real thing which illumes Christ Jesus to a planet full of believers who met Him — personally and individually in a meeting. These days that is the discounted thing. The Gospel is the story of how the living God of the universe, visiting earth in fully human form was met and treated by organized legalist, religionists, and organized, civilized, Pagan law abiding civil servants—and those who sought to proffer their favor.  In a question, before anyone adopts a counter doctrine out of hand, or take present culture oriented stance seriously, or assign Jesus to mythos you must ask. At some point in your life, ‘What if,  just as it is written, what if—this is true?’

John 19:1-42
New King James Version (NKJV) The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

19 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said,[1] “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands.

Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.”

Pilate’s Decision

Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”

Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucifyHim!

Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our[2] law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.

10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”

11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”

13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.* 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”

15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.[3]

The King on a Cross

17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:


20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.

21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘He said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece.24 They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:

“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”[4]

Therefore the soldiers did these things.

Behold Your Mother

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple,“Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

It Is Finished

28 After this, Jesus, knowing[5] that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Jesus’ Side Is Pierced

31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.”[6] 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”[7]

Jesus Buried in  Joseph’s Tomb

38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.


  1. John 19:3 NU-Text reads And they came up to Him and said.
  2. John 19:7 NU-Text reads the law.
  3. John 19:16 NU-Text omits and led Him away.
  4. John 19:24 Psalm 22:18
  5. John 19:28 M-Text reads seeing.
  6. John 19:36 Exodus 12:46Numbers 9:12Psalm 34:20
  7. John 19:37 Zechariah 12:10

* There had never been any historical record of the court where Jesus Christ was tried by Pilate – called the “Gabbatha” or pavement in John 19:13. William F. Albright, in The Archeology of Palestine, shows that this court was the court of the Tower of Antonia, which was the Roman military headquarters of Rome in Jerusalem. The court was destroyed between 66 A.D. – 70 A.D. during the siege of Jerusalem. It was left buried when the city was rebuilt in the time of Hadrian, and not discovered until recently.

Thomas Merton— from Theology of Creativity

thomas merton

Excerpted from an essay which first  appeared in 1960 in  The American Benedictine Review. 

The creativity of the Christian person must be seen in relation to the creative vocation of the new Adam, mystical person of the “whole Christ.” The creative will of God has been at work in the cosmos since he said: “Let there be light.”  This creative fiat was not uttered merely at the dawn of time. All time and all history are a continued, uninterrupted creative act, a stupendous, ineffable mystery in which God has signified his will to associate man with himself in his work of creation. The will and power of the Almighty Father were not satisfied simply to make the world and turn it over to man to run it as best he could. The creative love of God was met, at first, by the destructive and self-centered recusal of man: an act of such incalculable consequences that it would have amounted to a destruction of God’s plan, if that were possible. But the creative work of God could not be frustrated by man’s sin. On the contrary, sin itself entered into the plan. If man was first called to share in the creative work of his heavenly Father, he now became involved in the “new creation,” the redemption of his own kind and the restoration of the cosmos, purified and transfigured, into the hands of the Father. God himself became man in order that in this way man could be most perfectly associated with him in this great work, the fullest manifestation of his eternal wisdom and mercy.

The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton,  New Directions

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Thomas Merton—The New Man

thomas merton

Thomas Merton 1915-1968

In those who are most alive and therefore most themselves, the life of the body is subordinated to a higher life that is within them. It quietly surrenders to the far more abundant vitality of a spirit living on levels that defy measurement and observation. The mark of true life in man is therefore not turbulence but control, not effervescence but lucidity and direction, not passion but the sobriety that sublimates all passion and elevates it to the clear inebriation of mysticism. The control we mean here is not arbitrary and tyrannical control by an interior principle which can be called, variously, a “super-ego” or a pharasaical conscience: it is the harmonious coordination of man’s powers in striving for the realization of his deepest spiritual potentialities. It is not so much a control of one part of man by another, but the peaceful integration of all man’s powers into one perfect actuality which is his true self, that is to say his spiritual self. Man, then, can only fully be said to be alive when he becomes plainly conscious of the real meaning of his own existence, that is to say when he experiences something of the fulness of intelligence, freedom and spirituality that are actualized within himself. But can we really expect a man to attain to this kind of consciousness? Is it not utterly cruel to hold before his eyes the delusive hope of this “fulness” of life and of “realization?” Of course, if the nature of the hope is not understood, it is the cruelest and most mocking of delusions. It may be the worst of all spiritual mirages that torments him in his desert pilgrimage. How can a man, plunged in the agonia, the wrestling of life and death in their most elemental spiritual forms, be beguiled by the promise of self realization? His very self, his very reality, is all contradiction: a contradiction mercifully obscured by confusion. If the confusion is cleared away, and he fully “realizes” this tormented self, what will he see if not the final absurdity of the contradiction? The “real meaning of his existence” would then be precisely that it has no meaning. In a certain sense, that is true. To find life we must die to life as we know it. To find meaning we must die to meaning as we know it. The sun rises every morning and we are used to it, and because we know the sun will rise we have finally come to act as if it rose because we wanted it to. Suppose the sun should choose not to rise? Some of our mornings would then be “absurd”—or, to put it mildly, they would not meet our expectations. To find the full meaning of our existence we must find not the meaning that we expect but the meaning that is revealed to us by God. The meaning that comes to us out of the transcendent darkness of His mystery and our own. We do not know God and we do not know ourselves. How then can we imagine that it is possible for us to chart our own course toward the discovery of the meaning of our life? This meaning is not a sun that rises every morning, though we have come to think that it does, and on mornings when it does not rise we substitute some artificial light of our own so as not to admit that this morning was absurd. Meaning is then not something we discover in ourselves, or in our lives. The meanings we are capable of discovering are never sufficient. The true meaning has to be revealed. It has to be “given.” And the fact that it is given is, indeed, the greater part of its significance: for life itself is, in the end, only significant in so far as it is given. As long as we experience life and existence as suns that have to rise every morning, we are in agony. We must learn that life is a light that rises when God summons it out of darkness. For this there are no fixed times.

Merton, Thomas (1999-11-29). The New Man (Kindle Locations 72-100). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.