Friday, April 05, 30AD (sometime between sunset and midnight)
Jesus, brought down from the cross.
He had spent the previous week travelling and preaching and finally returned to Jerusalem the day before, expecting to be welcomed as a hero. Naïve to the core, he had no idea that excessive adulation brings with it the why-him-why-not-me feeling. A conspiracy was brewing, one in which some men whom he had always taken as his closest, were involved.
But he was on a roll. Folks all over were finally listening to him and he was turning into a tsunami of a leader. Given the adulation, vanity couldn’t be far. A certain arrogance had in fact crept in. While passing a fig tree, famished from all the travel, he had stopped to pluck a fig and found the tree bare, except for leaves. Irritated, he had declared spitefully to the tree,” Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” (Mark 11:14)
The fig tree must have thought,” Hey, take it easy, dude. What the f—k did I do?” (Spunkybong 20:20).
There is no question, Jesus was for some reason, on a bit of an edge that afternoon. When he arrived back in Jerusalem and went to the temple where he healed sick children, he saw a bunch of ‘money changers’ and ‘dove sellers’ lolling around on the steps, drunk and regaling themselves, unaware that he had returned. He went up to them and said, “My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” (Luke 19:46).
Money changers, notorious for being corrupt, exchanged currency for the Temple’s half-shekel coin that was needed to pay the yearly temple tribute. Those who were poor and couldn’t manage a half-shekel, bought doves instead and used them to make a temple offering. And so the dove sellers and the money changers thrived. Today they would go by the term ‘hustlers’.
The image above is a photo I took inside a Church here in Canada, of Jesus after he was brought down from the cross. I am guessing this was after the Romans allowed the two dudes behind him and the women in whose arms he rests, to cut him loose and gently lower him. They must have had ta take out the spikes first. Did they have bolt cutters or pliers, or did they just yank him off? I don’t know.
The Book of John 19:25 says….”Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene”. That makes it four women. There are however two women and two men here, unless the two men are actually two of the other Marys.
The woman on the left foreground in the above relief, seen staring reverently up at Jesus, struck me and I stared up at her until I had a crick in the neck. I asked the parish priest who had been shuffling around nearby and he said,” Ah, elle est certainement Marie-Madeleine..”
From the New Testament to the ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Mary Magdalene’s image has been repeatedly hijacked, contorted and contradicted. She is in fact the microcosm of the whole history of western civilization. For many centuries this woman became alternatively the embodiment of Christian devotion and the symbol of sin, which in turn came to be wound around the concept of repentance. ‘Repent and thou shall be forgiven’ is probably the most popular Christian strain.
Deciphered, to me Christian repentance sounds like, “By all means, go ahead and sin… as long as you show repentance after. And then your slate shall be clean…” If you have watched the teary-eyed Bill Clintons and the Anthony Weiners, you’ll know what I’m getting at.
That appears to be true for all other Abrahamic religions as well. A Yazidi woman who escaped captivity in ISIS-held Sinjar, said that the ISIS fighter who had purchased her always had a shower every time he raped her. ‘It is a procedure that is mandated by the Quran,’ he said to her. The shower is meant to cleanse him off the sin he had just committed. Rape woman – take shower – rape woman – take shower – rape woman – take shower ……. I have ta hand it to the Muslims, they’re brilliant.
Repentance, in the case of Mary Magdalene, is a bit convoluted. No one knows for sure what it was that she was repenting about. Firstly, she has never been actually named in the Bible. The Gospel according ta Luke (7:36-50) simply mentions a ‘penitent woman’. Was her nameless status because she was a prostitute who was considered just too low to muddy the Holy Book by naming her, because then she would be a woman with an identity? Why is she always shown repenting? Penitent for what crime, no one seems bothered ta ask. Was repentance a pastime, like going for a game of tabula (backgammon) or terni lapilli (tic-tac-toe)? ‘Let’s go repent a while, guys.’
To me, Mary Mags is the coolest broad in the Bible. She has served as a tapestry of fantasies to the many different sects of Christianity across time. In one age after another, Mary Magdalene has gotten reinvented – from prostitute, to sibyl, to mystic, to celibate nun, to feminist icon, to matriarch of divinity, to gorgeous siren, to passive companion – a Sister Nivedita to Swami Vivekananda or maybe a Miraben to Gandhi. Mary Mag has been called all sorts of things by all sorts of folks, through the centuries.
Take a look at what the Cathloic church, in the person of Pope Gregory I (540-604AD), had ta say about Mary…..”She whom Luke calls the sinful woman, whom John calls Mary [of Bethany], we believe to be the Mary from whom seven devils were ejected according to Mark.” (I guess that was the way folks said ‘she was a bitch’ in those days). Afterward, the accusation kinda stuck and she became ‘the prostitute who tried to corrupt Jesus’. The Greek Orthodox guys, on the other hand, revere her as a saint. So there you go.
Let’s rewind further back a bit and check out what actually happened there at Golgotha that day…..
At 9am Wednesday, Jesus was brought to Golgotha, stumbling and dragging his cross with him, his bare feet lacerated by the sharp stones that lay on the path. (If you’ve seen Ben Hur you’ll know what I’m talking about).
For the Romans, this was not their first crucifixion. The first century AD historian, Plutarch, claims that the General, Crassus, had discovered ancient Assyrian texts during his conquests in Syria and Iraq, that vividly described how the Assyrians crucified their victims, a thousand years prior. Always in the search for new ways ta punish, Crassus got a hard-on reading the texts and made up his mind to try them out soon as he could.
No one knows if Crassus did actually crucify anybody, because he didn’t live that long. He was killed fighting the Parthians (modern day Iraqis). Plooty says that when they nabbed him, he begged them for water and they first poured molten gold down his throat and then beheaded him. Tame stuff for the times, since they didn’t disembowel him first and while he was still breathing, lay out his intestines on the grass and stomp on ’em with hob-nailed boolts. Besides, I would have bought myself a harem full of nymphs with that gold instead.
By then every Roman General was talking about this cool new way ta execute known as ‘crucifixion’ and so it spread into ancient Rome. Soon the Emperor Tiberius made crucifixion standard operating procedure for executions. By the time JH was crucified, thousands of slaves, enemy combatants, political enemies and spies had already been crucified.
The Romans lifted crucifixion to another level however. Whereas the Assyrians just tied the victim to the cross and left him ta starve to death, the Romans began nailing to the cross. Death was more painful, but sooner and the bright side – the turnaround time became quicker, since the DPCPD index rose substantially. DPCPD – Deaths Per Cross Per Day.
In the relief above, the shock and grief on the faces of Jesus’s companions is palpable. And think of the spikes that were driven in through his palms, feet and knees. Knees! Ugh! That would have hurt a bitch. Have you accidentally bumped your knees against the leg of a stool? Now try imagining a spike is being driven in there. Urrrrgh!
Before they crucified him, Pontius Pilate’s men wanted to be nice ta Jesus. They slipped him a Mickey Fin – a glass of wine mixed with gall from a heifer, designed ta stupefy him and deaden the pain. Yuck! Jesus did the one smart thing – he refused it. He just chose ta forgive them, even exhorting his Dad ta forgive them, because ‘they know not what they do.’
He was stripped and his garments distributed among the Roman soldiers and a sign that said derisively, “King of the Jews” was slapped on his forehead, written in Latin, Hebrew and Greek. Jesus spent the hours forgiving everybody because his Dad had told him that was the right thing ta do, even if it made him look like a schmuck. Jesus must have overdone the forgiving bit – I forgive you, to anyone within hearing – because today it is recognized as the first recorded instance of spam, stuff that you are essentially sick of hearing or reading.
At 0900hrs, Golgotha time, Friday the 5th April, 30AD, Jesus H Christ was crucified. To state that he felt extreme pain was an understatement. Gravity must have stretched his body down, the spikes through his palm prevented from tearing apart from his weight, by the spikes through his knees and feet. Roman engineering. All around him his followers moaned and groaned, while the Roman Centurian who stood guard at the scene felt sorry he wasn’t at the baths with his boy toy instead.
In any case, that was a horrible way ta die, but thank God, a coupla days later all was well. Obviously Jesus wasn’t dead, because he rose and ascended to heaven. John 20:01 says..”Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance and the body of Jesus was gone..”
Personally I think that it was the work of a grave robber and that Jesus’s body actually exists today – enbalmed and encased, at some billionaire’s private collection.
Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.