Easter is coming and the life and martyrdom of Jesus Christ is on the minds of the faithful across the world. First there is the forty days of Lent when people pray, fast and seek forgiveness for their sins. Then comes the Passion Week; of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday; when we grieve over the martyrdom of Jesus and then rejoice in his resurrection.

Passion Week is an eventful period that the world has not forgotten two thousand years after it happened. So it helps to think about that spring morning when a Jewish preacher and healer of Palestine rode into the holy city of Jerusalem followed by his twelve disciples. Today the day is celebrated as Palm Sunday as the people of Jerusalem came out to welcome him and laid fronds of the palm tree along his path in joyous greeting.

What had Jesus said or done to gain such love? He had healed the sick; spoken of love, forgiveness and charity; and gathered the people of Palestine around him through his wise sermons. A preacher who spoke of loving your neighbour was hardly a threat to anyone in power but there were people in Jerusalem who felt greatly threatened by his popularity.

There was the Jewish priesthood that did not like the fact that Jesus questioned their greed and hunger for power. Also Palestine at this time was colony of the Roman Empire and the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate looking at the hundreds of people lining the streets to greet Jesus considered him to be a man who could lead a rebellion and so had to be stopped. For the people Jesus was the messiah promised in the Old Testament and the saviour of the Jews. The people in power could not allow this and so a man of peace was punished for being loved and respected by the poor.

On the day now called Maundy Thursday, Jesus had his Last Supper with his disciples where he predicted that he did not have long to live. Later that night, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he was betrayed to Roman soldiers by Judas who was one of his disciples.

On the next morning, now called Good Friday, Jesus faced the mockery of a trial and Pontius Pilate ordered that he should be crucified. This is a punishment of unimaginable pain and cruelty as a person faces a slow death hanging from a wooden cross. Jesus was even made to carry the cross up to the hill of Calvary where he would be crucified. Good Friday is a day of mourning.

Jesus’ body was kept in a stone crypt and when it was opened on Sunday morning it had vanished and later he appeared before his disciples. This Sunday in the miracle of his resurrection is the celebration of Easter Sunday. Later Jesus would preach to his followers and then ascend to heaven promising to come back.

Easter is thus a festival celebrating his resurrection and Christians attend mass in church on Easter morning. Easter eggs that symbolise the empty crypt are given as gifts as we celebrate the gifts of a great teacher and remember his preaching.

Jesus is called Christ or the anointed one and the faithful believe he is the son of god who came to earth to save humanity. His life story comes to us through the four gospels written by his four disciples – Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus Christ’s life and words resonate with us even today.

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