The Man from Galilee
When Jesus came before Pontius Pilate to face charges of blasphemy and sedition, someone was heard to say that he was a Galilean. Pilate took the opportunity to send Jesus to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, a separate province over which Pilate did not hold authority. Herod, himself a Jew, wanted no part in it and returned Jesus to Pilate.
The former military man wanted the matter over and done with. He was interested only in returning to Rome with his resume intact. He disliked Judea, particularly Jerusalem, preferring his palace in the beautiful seaside city of Ceserea - Phillipi. He came to Jerusalem for Passover because there was unrest among the Jews, some of it his own doing. To honor and perhaps impress Emperor Tiberius, he had placed standards bearing the likeness of the emperor, in the Antonia Fortress, overlooking the Temple. Emperors were often deified at death and thus were worshipped as gods. This action infuriated the Jews and they marched on the palace in protest. Pilate eventually took them down, so round one to the Jews. He then constructed an aqueduct, in itself not a problem, but he used sacred tithes from the Temple treasury to pay for it. At a hearing on the matter, he had Roman soldiers, disguised as Jews who, on his signal, attacked and killed hundreds of real Jews.
Pilate did return to Rome but it did not go well for him. He was charged with malfeasance, including the slaughter of the Jews and misusing the sacred tithes. He was also charged with failing to report to Caesar the release of the notorius criminal Barrabas. If found guilty, he would have been exiled to a life of obscurity, to which he was ill suited. He did not stand trial, choosing instead to take his own life. His wife, Claudia Procula, became a Christian. She had advised her husband to let Jesus go.
Meanwhile Emperor Tiberius Caesar was nearing the end of his reign, living on the Isle of Capri, having removed himself from
the hustle and bustle of Rome. At age 78, He took ill and died, in AD 37. He was likely either poisoned or suffocated by followers of his grand nephew, Caligula, who would succeed him. Sources tell of Caligula's cruelty, sadism, extravagance, and sexual perversion, presenting him as an insane tyrant. His reign ended in four years when he was assassinated by members of the Praetorian Guard. He was succeeded by his uncle Claudius, who was able to restore some dignity to the title of Emperor at least for a time. He ruled for 13 years, whereupon he met an untimely death at the hand of his fourth wife, Agrippina, who poisoned him. He was succeeded by Nero, Agrippina's son and things went from bad to worse. This was especially true for Aprippina,
who was murdered by Nero, five years into his reign. It got worse for the Christians too as Nero blamed them for setting the fires that destroyed much of Rome. Many Christians were arrested and brutally executed by being thrown to the beasts, crucified, and being burned alive. It was during Nero's reign that Peter and Paul were executed. Nero's misrule caught up with him and he took his own life rather than face prosecution.
Pilate rode into Jerusalem for Passover in a chariot accompanied by his guards, advisors and supporters. The Man from Galilee rode in on the back of a donkey. "Jesus was not riding toward and emperor's throne and coronation. He was riding into the valley of the shadow of death. While Pilate's entry into the city demonstrated the power of the Roman Empire, Jesus' entry showed God's boundless love flowing through him and into all those who would receive it."- The Upper Room
From the Pastor
The United Methodist Book of Worship explains that The Easter Season, also known as The Great Fifty Days, begins at sunset on Easter Eve and continues through the Day of Pentecost. (May 20, 2018). It is the most joyful and celebrative season of the Christian year. It focuses on Christ’s resurrection and ascension and on the giving of the Holy Spirit on the first Easter (John 20: 22-23) and the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Scripture readings from Acts replace readings from the Old Testament because the early church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, is the best witness to the Resurrection.
Why are there 50 days in the Easter Season? After the resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days on earth before he ascended, and then there were 10 more days after that before the Day of Pentecost.
Luke writes in the first chapter of Acts that Jesus "presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during 40 days and speaking of the kingdom of God."
In Acts 2, we read that the followers of Jesus gathered for the Day of Pentecost, which actually means "fifty." It happened during the Hebrew feast of Shavout, which is why the followers of Jesus were gathering. The Hebrew festival was originally a harvest first fruits celebration, and later it had evolved into a commemoration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
In Acts 2, we read that the followers of Jesus gathered for the Day of Pentecost, which actually means “fifty.” It happened during the Hebrew feast of Shavout, which is why the followers of Jesus were gathering. The Hebrew festival was originally a harvest first fruits celebration, and later it had evolved into a commemoration of the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!