By Mary Sayad

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  • Understanding the Bible - Part 5
    Salvation and Resurrection

    Salvation

    There are many references made in the Gospels concerning the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Sanhedren.

    The Pharisees were a religious group which sprang into being in opposition to efforts to Hellenize the Palestinian Jews and destroy the religion of Judaism. They believed in the immortality of the soul, freedom of will, and future retribution.

    They were skilled in the Law (written and oral) and tried to observe it scrupulously, however, the mechanical observance of the law without a true feeling often led to pride and hypocrisy. Jesus pointed out to them that mere externals have no value, which resulted in a hostile attitude toward Christ. Therefore, toward the end of Christ's ministery the Pharisees united with the Sadducees to bring about his condemnation and crucifixion.

    The Sadducees upheld the written law alone in opposition to the Pharisees. This means unlike the Pharisees, they did not accept the authority of the tradition of the elders. The Sadducees believed in God, but rejected the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, future retribution, and the existence of angels and spirits.

    The Sanhedren was a counsel made up of local elite with some sort of Roman oversight. Although many Sadducees were put to death by Herod the Great in 37 B.C., under the Romans they regained part of their power. With the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the temple, the Sanhedren, and the Sadducees disappeared forever.

    The Scribes were a distinguished professional people thoughout the ancient world. Jewish Scribees were associated with the Sanhedren as clerks, legal counselors, and sometimes judges. Scribes interpreted existing law, they did not create it. There is no concrete evidence that Scribes were Pharisees.

    How do the above relate to salvation? John 18:12-14 "So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiphas, who was the high priest that year. It was Caiphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people."

    God's plan for man's salvation was through Jesus' suffering, crucifixion and the ultimate sacrifice of His only begotten son in order to redeem mankind. Because of Jesus' sacrifice and Resurrection the gates of heaven were opened for us. As Christians, we have a lifelong journey through the cross and the light of the Resurrection.. When we nourish our faith through prayer, penance and conversion, we help Jesus carry his cross and we reach our Christian goal - love of God and love of neighbor. When we love God with all our hearts, keeping His commandments becomes easier and a true joy.

    Just as Jesus surrendered to the cross, he invites you to surrender to his love. When you surrender to his love, your life will be dramatically transformed for the better.

    Go to your Bibles and read Matthew 27:1-14, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 22:63-71. Note the similarities, the references to the Sanhedren, Scribes and Pharisees.

    Resurrection

    Why wouldn't Jesus satisfy the scribes and Pharisees when they demanded signs from him? Look up Matthew 12:38-41. (If I post all the quotes, I will deprive you of the curiosity element and I don't wish to disappoint you).

    John 2:18-22 In this quote, what did the Jews ask Jesus and why did they challenge him? How does Jesus' response relate to his Resurrection? How does their question relate to your lack of trust in God's word?

    Matthew 27:62-66 What did the Pharisees worry about and whom did they approach with their concerns? What did the Pharisees request of Pilate to alleviate their fears?

    Matthew 28:1-28 As a Christian, how do you relate to the Resurrection and what does it mean to you?

    My friends, Jesus truly rose from the dead physically and wholly. He was the first one to overcome the power of death forever.

    The new Christians of Jesus' time suffered much pain and martyrdom. Today in many parts of the world, Christians are still persecuted and yes, even in "free" countries, Christians are oppressed. Those who love the world and embrace sin would deny Christians their God given rights of freedom of religion and committment to Jesus' way of life. Today, Christians are targeted by secular groups legitimally through the law. Sadly, after 2000 years of Jesus' Crucifixion, Christians are martyred and hated in various countries.

    1 Corinthians: 55-58

    The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

    Pray for Christians throughout the world. Place your trust in God and never waiver from His love. The world needs prayer now more than ever before. Our prayers are our weapons against Satan, the world's adversary. Jesus will lead you to grow in spirituality when you continue to pray and pray with your heart for peace, compassion and understanding.

    Our Blessed Mother carried Jesus in her womb for nine months. She was the sanctified vessel by which Jesus was sent for us and she is our intercessor to Jesus. Our world is dark with sin and wars. I encourage you to pray the rosary daily.

    Thank you for all your prayers, rosary recitals, devotions and liturgies.

    Most of my research on this subject came directly from the Holy Bible and a Bible handbook. In addition, the pastor of our parish, Fr. Sami Baroody will be reviewing my explanations for verification and accuracy and I thank him for his valued time. Our parish is St. Ann's Melkite Catholic Church.

    Your companion in prayer,
    Mary