"Take and eat; this is my body." (Matthew 26:26)

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." (Matthew 26:26)

Did Jesus want them to eat his body?

Certainly not. This verse has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by some sectarian teachers. Jesus was not suggesting his followers resort to cannibalism.

Yet we know from Jesus' statement that the bread that Jesus broke and handed out to his disciples that night was not ordinary bread. What did Jesus do to the bread to make it so special?
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks ... (Matt. 26:26)
This means that giving thanks was a critical event that took place.

The Greek verse is clear that they were already eating when Jesus took the bread. The Greek word is ἐσθίω (esthiō), and this communicates that they were already eating. The translation appropriately says:
"While they were eating...."
Then the verse says Jesus "took the bread." "Took" here is being translated from λαμβάνω (lambanō) which means, according to the lexicon, 'to take with the hand,' or 'lay hold of.' This means that Jesus reached over and took the bread into his hands.

After he took the bread into his hands, the English translation says:
"he gave thanks...."

Did he really 'give thanks?'

Not exactly. The Greek word being translated into "gave thanks" is εὐλογέω (eulogeō). This means, according to the lexicon:
1) to praise, celebrate with praises
2) to invoke blessings
3) to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers
a) to ask God's blessing on a thing
b) pray God to bless it to one's use
c) pronounce a consecratory blessing on

Where, in this definition does it say εὐλογέω means to give thanks?

To "give thanks," as some sectarian teachers preach, is to say something like, "Thank you Lord for the food we have before us..." This is usually followed by "....and [all the other things] You have given us..."

This is usually extended with a listing of the various things the person is thankful for, such as a family, a good job, or money or some kind of award or other momentum recently received.

While it is certainly nice to thank God for everything received, this leads to the premise - as we are asking God for stuff - that it is God's job to deliver the stuff we ask for, and our job is to graciously receive it all and thank Him for it.

This assumes a relationship between us and God (or Jesus, as many preach) that God (or Jesus) is our servant. He is there to give us whatever we want, as long as we ask for it with prayer. This assumption is diametrically opposed to Jesus' teachings.

As we apply Jesus' teaching about loving God and doing the will of God, another element emerges. This allows us to appropriately understand what Jesus was doing with the bread, as he εὐλογέω (eulogeō) with it:

Jesus was offering the bread to God.

Offering food and gifts to God while praising Him had been a long-cherished method of worshiping God - one that had been handed down from teacher to teacher for thousands of years. It was practiced by Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Samuel, Solomon, Eli and all the other teachers that formed the lineage that Jesus was a part of:
"There he [Abraham] built an altar to the LORD and called on the Name of the LORD." (Genesis 12:8)
All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings.... (Exodus 35:29)
"The rest of the grain offering belongs to Aaron and his sons; it is a most holy part of the offerings made to the LORD by fire." (Lev. 2:3)
And what was the purpose of these offerings? The purpose of making offerings to God - "fellowship offerings" or "freewill offerings" as they are called in the Old Testament - is to establish a relationship with God.

Or do we think that Jesus would honor the Prophets and quote many of their teachings yet abandon the venerated process of making offerings to God?

So what did Jesus mean by 'this is my body'?

At this 'last supper' with his disciples, Jesus first made a private personal offering to God with the bread. Then he broke the bread and handed it out to his followers. As he did this, he said, "Take and eat; this is my body."

Was Jesus talking about his physical body? Certainly not, since he was handing out the bread, not his body. His physical body sat in the chair while the bread was being handed out.

This means that there was something about the bread that Jesus connected as his body. What was it?

It was the bread that was offered to God. The bread that was offered symbolized Jesus' offering of himself to God.

The word "body" in this verse is translated from the Greek word, σῶμα (sōma). This can certainly mean body, either practically or virtually. But it can also mean, according to Thayer's lexicon, "the instrument of the soul."

Since the bread was an offering to God, and Jesus is saying the offering is his "instrument," Jesus is suggesting that they consider Jesus' life to be an offering to God.

Jesus was saying to his followers that his life was an offering to God.

What about the communion ritual?

Today we find some sectarian institutions conduct a ritual where a cracker or piece of bread is put in the mouth of each person while a prayer is read.

Practitioners believe this ritual provides purification. Certainly, they are not literally eating Jesus' body. Rather, the ritual should theoretically commemorate the idea that Jesus had offered himself to God.

Was Jesus doing some mystical ritual so that his disciples would be purified of their sins once they ate the bread? Rather, Jesus was teaching them by example how to live their lives. And doing so would naturally lead to their purification - a change of heart.

Jesus was teaching them with metaphorical terms. He was connecting the offered food with his body because he was suggesting metaphorically that his whole life - his teachings, his example and his miracles - were all offerings to God. And he was handing out that bread to symbolize that they could partake in that offering by following his example.

In other words, Jesus was saying that he considered his very life to be an offering to God, and they could too. This is why Jesus also taught:
"For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'" (Luke 4:8 and Matt. 4:10)

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)

"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt 12:50)

"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
This is also evidenced by what occurred a few days later, as Jesus laid down the life of his physical body as an offering to the Supreme Being. Jesus was illustrating, by not resisting being arrested, and by allowing his body to be murdered because of his teachings, that Jesus was God's servant and Jesus' life was an offering to God.

And yes, realizing this has the ability to save us. Not with some kind of magical "eating of the body of Christ" ritual, but from the simple realization that Jesus was trying to teach us to love God with all our hearts, all our minds - our whole life and being.

This is evidenced by the real teachings of Jesus, specifically his most important one:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

"This is my blood of the covenant ..." (Matthew 26:27-29)

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." (Matthew 26:27-29)

What did Jesus mean by 'this is my blood'?

"My blood" is being translated from the Greek word αἷμα (haima) which could mean blood, but according to the lexicon can also 'refers to the seat of life,' and its metaphorical meaning refers to ones 'mission' or 'purpose.'

As we understand that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, Jesus was not talking about his physical blood at all. He was referring to his core purpose and intention: His mission.

The next word in the verse is διαθήκη (diathēkē) in Greek, which is being translated to "of the covenant." διαθήκη (diathēkē) means 'dispositions,' 'arrangements,' or 'contracts' relating to testaments or wills. In other words, διαθήκη means a type of pact.

So what kind of pact, covenant, arrangement or contract is Jesus talking about here?

We also find that God maintained a covenant with Noah, with Moses, and a number of other ancient teachers. Some books of the Bible discuss a covenant between God and the people of Israel.

Is this the same covenant as Jesus is describing? While this has been speculated upon by Biblical scholars, we know from the clear teachings of the prophets what God wanted from the people of Israel, and what He was promising them.

Quite simply, God wanted the people of Israel to individually re-establish their loving service relationship with Him. And this goes for all of us: God simply wants us to return to His loving arms.

This is why Moses' and Jesus' most important instruction was:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)

What does 'poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins' mean?

The word "forgiveness" in Matthew 26:27 is being translated from ἄφεσις (aphesis), which means, according to the lexicon, "release from bondage or imprisonment."

"Forgiveness" can be an alternate meaning, but this was only a contrived meaning as translated by Roman scribes into Latin - a meaning that other sects followed centuries later.

Then "of sins" is being translated from the Greek word ἁμαρτία (hamartia), which, according to the lexicon, refers to "to be without a share in, to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honor, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God..." This can be summarized by something like 'straying from God's will.'

And what is the root of 'straying from God's will?' It is self-centeredness. It is greed. It is envy. These elements facilitate our straying from our original loving relationship with the Supreme Being.

Selfishness and envy can be compared to being imprisoned, because these grab us and draw us further and further into greed, leading to violence. This is why God taught Cain:
"But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7)
Selfishness is ready to grab us at any time. Self-centered thoughts lead to desires, which pull us in to greed.

We can only be released from the "bondage" that self-centeredness brings by following Jesus' and Moses' instruction to re-develop our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. Should we do this, then by God's "covenant," we can be released from the bondage of self-centeredness, and thus materialism, and become a candidate for returning to the spiritual world.

What did Jesus mean by 'when I drink it anew with you'?

In Jesus' next statement, he says, "I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."

Jesus is confirming that the "covenant" mentioned in the prior sentence is related to his returning to "my Father's kingdom." Jesus is referring to our returning to our relationship with God - within the spiritual realm.

But Jesus is not only talking about his own return to the spiritual realm: "that day when I drink it anew with you" means that Jesus will only feel that the "covenant" is fulfilled when those followers Jesus is speaking to embrace his instruction to love and serve God with all their hearts, and thus return to the spiritual realm with him.

This covenant is also available to anyone who chooses to follow Jesus' teachings.

This clarifies Jesus' purpose and the meaning of his statement here. Jesus was not some sort of sacrificial lamb that supplies blood for people to drink so they can be relieved from the consequences of their sins so they can continue their self-centered behavior without guilt. This perversion of Jesus' life is offensive and abominable and has nothing to do with the real teachings of Jesus.

Rather, Jesus' purpose was to instruct us to renew our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. Should we do this, we will be released from the bondage of our self-centeredness, and become eligible to return to the spiritual realm. This is the "covenant" Jesus is referring to here. This is why Jesus' most important instruction was:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

Was Jesus drinking wine?

Jesus said this after he offered the grape juice to God with praises and then passed the cup around to his disciples.

How do we know this was grape juice and not wine?

The Greek praise translated to "fruit of the vine" is γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου. The word γένημα (genēma) refers to fruit and ἄμπελος (ampelos) refers to a grapevine. Jesus is referring to a fresh drink, not a fermented drink.

The Greek word for fermented wine is οἶνος (oinos). There is no mention of this at the 'last supper' because Jesus was not drinking wine.

In the Old Testament we find multiple Hebrew words translated to wine:

עָסִיס (`aciyc) - which refers to sweet wine or juice (unfermented)

תִּירוֹשׁ (tiyrowsh) - which refers to new wine, which may be fermented and intoxicating, or may simply be juice.

יַיִן (yayin) - refers to fermented and intoxicating wine.

Furthermore, the ancient custom for drinking fermented wine was to dilute it with water. For customary uses - for gatherings and so forth - if fermented wine was used, it was diluted with up to 20 parts water - leaving the alcohol content well under 1%.

Furthermore, we know that Jesus' teacher, John the Baptist did not drink wine. Jesus said this himself:
"For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine..." (Luke 7:33)
We also find this in the words of the angel that appeared to Zechariah regarding John:
"...for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born." (Luke 1:15)
And because Jesus was one of John's students (meaning of baptism) we know that he certainly followed his teacher in this respect of not drinking alcohol - or at least drinking minimal alcohol in the form of the watered down version.

We also find that Jesus turned down alcohol even when he was suffering on the cross:
There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall [myrrh or wormwood]; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. (Matthew 27:34)
Once Jesus tasted it and found it was wine, he didn't want it. This is even though wine was being used medicinally in this situation.

Why did he say it was the 'blood of the covenant'?

There is a critical misunderstanding with regard to why Jesus is calling the bread and the grape juice "my blood of the covenant."
"Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them" (Matthew 26:27)
The Greek word being translated to "given thanks" here is εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteō) - and the word Greek word translated to "given thanks" in Matthew 26:26 is the synonym ὐλογέω (eulogeō), which both mean "to praise, celebrate with praises" and "to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers" according to the lexicon.

What is this? It is referring to the ancient practice - handed down from the ancient prophets and also taught by Jesus - of making an offering to the Supreme Being.

When something is offered to the Supreme Being it becomes "blessed." This is why the food and the grape drink were so special. Jesus offered them to God with praises, so the food and the grape juice became blessed.

Offering food to God was an ancient practice handed down from teacher to student for thousands of years as a practice to help us re-establish our loving relationship with God. The books of the Old Testament describe clearly the practice of offering to God, and God Himself requested it:
"Tell the Israelites to bring Me an offering. You are to receive the offering for Me from each man whose heart prompts him to give." (Exodus 25:2)
Unfortunately, ecclesiastical sectarian institutions and their professional teachers have abandoned making offerings to the Supreme Being. Why?

Because they are not interested in coming to know and love the Supreme Being - which is facilitated by making an offering.

Just consider what a boy does when he wants to get to know a girl better. He brings her flowers - an offering. This is meant to facilitate a relationship between the two.

This is the same purpose for making an offering to the Supreme Being. We are extending ourselves to Him - wanting to come to know and love Him.

Why did they stop making offerings?

Sectarian institutions teach that we don't need to offer anything to God because Jesus' crucifixion replaced the need for offerings. This perversion of Jesus' life and mission is the foundation for rituals being conducted by some sectarian organizations today. These include imagining drinking Jesus' blood as they pass around wine in the hopes of being relieved of the consequences of self-centered activities (sins).

This ritual has subverted the teachings of Jesus. Instead of focusing on loving God and serving God, the focus of many sectarian institutions has become becoming cleansed of sins. Instead of making offerings to God as Jesus and his followers did, sectarian institutions teach using Jesus to make offerings to ourselves so we can be cleansed.

This attempt to subvert Jesus' teachings was embarked on by the Roman government over three centuries after they murdered Jesus and practically all of Jesus' disciples. The Roman government slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Israelites in their march to dominate Europe and the Middle East.

The Roman government was one of the most vicious and bloodthirsty governments known in the history of humanity.

After they annihilated Jesus, his followers, and much of the populace of Judea, this Roman government utilized the life and death of Jesus to exert control over the growing early Christian movement through their proxy, the Roman Catholic Church. That overt control lasted more than 1,000 years, and continues today through a continuance of their doctrines.

The Roman strategy worked quite well. The early Roman Church selected a few of the many scriptures written about Jesus and banned the rest. Then they carefully translated those into Latin in a manner that fit a narrative they could live with.

Then they burnt any scroll outside of those they kept in their secret library or translated to Latin (which only the Roman priests could understand). Then they outlawed the possession of any scroll or writ by a common person.

Even the Latin Bible was limited to be read only by Church priests.

Thus the entire peoples of Europe and the Middle East - anyone under the control of the Romans or the powerful Roman Catholic Church - could not read scripture privately. They could only attend mass and hear the priest quote selected verses in Latin - a language most could not even understand.

This allowed the Romans to de-emphasize the true teachings of Jesus, and create an alternative narrative that Jesus was God who became man in order to die for our sins.

Anyone teaching anything outside this doctrine - the Nicene Creed - was burnt at the stake or imprisoned and hanged.

Does this doctrine make sense?

And it was out of this tyranny that the brainwashing ritual of "bathing in the blood of Jesus" by pretending that Jesus' blood is some crackers or bread and wine.

Why should we believe this?

Their teachings and rituals have focused upon a self-centered (cleansing of sins) worship of Jesus' crucifixion rather than those devotional activities Jesus promoted to help change the hearts of his followers - teaching them to refocus their lives upon the Supreme Being.

And is it a coincidence that this is the same government responsible for persecuting Jesus?

Not only was the Roman government involved in the murder of Jesus' physical body when he was here: They then proceeded to cover up Jesus' real teachings, with some hokey teaching about Jesus being God turned man so that God could die for our sins.

This is a nonsensical interpretation of Jesus' life and teachings.

They are teaching that God died. How could God die? How could the Supreme Being - who created everything - come under the influence of the physical world and die? Is that sane?

The Supreme Being does not die. He is eternal and never comes under the control of the physical world. Thus he never faces death.

Furthermore, God is God. He never becomes a man. Its like saying that a man can become a rock. How could that be so? They are completely different types of entities. The Supreme Being is always supreme. He is always superior. He would never have to succumb to being a lower organism - a human physical body.

More importantly, the Supreme Being never has to make a sacrifice to atone for anyone. The Supreme Being can cleanse someone's sins simply by willing it. He doesn't need to make a show of supposedly dying.

This fact is confirmed by Jesus' teaching his followers to ask the Supreme Being to forgive their sins within the "Lord's Prayer:"
"and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us." (Matthew 6:12 NLT)
The word "sins" is translated from the Greek word ὀφείλημα (opheilēma), but this means "offense, sin" and "debt" according to the lexicon.

Furthermore, we know Jesus was referring to God forgiving sins:
"But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:15)
So why, if Jesus is teaching his followers to ask the Supreme Being to forgive them for their sins, do sectarian teachers and their institutions teach this offensive ritual of "bathing in the blood of Jesus" and otherwise because that will cleanse them of their sins?

The word "sin" or "transgressions" in Matthew 6:15 comes from the Greek word παράπτωμα (paraptōma), which means, according to the lexicon, "to fall beside or near something" and "a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness."

What are we talking about here? Jesus is discussing activities that are self-centered and hurtful to others. But what is this and why would God need to forgive us for being selfish and for hurting others? Why couldn't those who we hurt just forgive us and we're all clean?

Because Jesus is speaking of a deeper offense: Offending the Supreme Being by rejecting our relationship with Him.

Does God give us the freedom to reject Him?

Because love requires freedom, the Supreme Being allows us the complete freedom to love Him or not.

And because He loves us dearly, certainly He is hurt and offended when we decide we don't want to love Him anymore.

This is why, in fact, we are each dwelling in a temporary physical body in the physical world and not in our home in the spiritual realm. We have been given these physical bodies in order to get away from God. He gave us these physical bodies so that we can pretend we are someone else - so we can forget our relationship with God.

Yes, the Supreme Being is so loving that He will give us the ability to ignore Him and even forget Him - and even deny His existence.

This element of not only accepting God's existence but accepting our relationship of servant is critical to Jesus' teachings. This is why Jesus said:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
The phrase "but only he who does the will of my Father" is very clear. To do someone's will means to serve that person. Jesus is talking about serving the Supreme Being.

"This very night you will all fall away on account of me ...'" (Matthew 26:31)

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: " 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'" (Matthew 26:30-31)
Jesus is predicting that his disciples will abandon him as he gets arrested and tried.

Why was Jesus arrested?

The temple High Priests and the Roman government worked in tandem to try to eliminate Jesus and his growing movement. The temple High Priests saw Jesus' teachings as threatening the stability of their organizations. The Romans wanted the status quo so they could continue collecting their taxes.

The temple priests were worried that Jesus' movement would steal parishioners away from their temples. Their salaries were paid from the tithings of these parishioners or forced collections of widows' inheritances as confirmed in Mark 12:40. Jesus' gaining movement threatened this system.

The Romans cooperated with the institutional temple priests for the purpose of keeping the society in check. They occupied the region and collected taxes from the people to maintain their excessive lifestyles in Rome.

Scholarly sources indicate that the institutional temple priests brought their concerns about Jesus' teachings before Pontius Pilate, who was the magistrate or prefect of Judea, in charge of governing the region. Pilate's responsibility was to keep the occupied state peaceful and producing income for the Romans.

Thus Pilate needed to support the High Priests' concerns about Jesus to avoid a Jewish uprising (which did occur a couple of decades later).

So there was a lot of pressure put upon Jesus' followers by the institutional temple officials, supported by the Roman officials. With Jesus' arrest, many of his disciples ran off to avoid their own arrest. That is, with the exception of the devoted Mary Magdalene, who sat under Jesus' cross.

Why does Jesus quote Zechariah?

Jesus utilizes a part of a verse from Zechariah 13:7 in his statement. Some sectarian teachers have misconstrued that this means Zechariah was predicting Jesus' arrest and subsequent murder at the hands of the Romans and institutional temple high priests.

But this is not consistent with the rest of Zechariah's scroll. Rather, Zechariah's scroll describes a tumultuous event that has nothing to do with Jesus being arrested. We can easily see this from the verses surrounding Zech. 13:7:
"On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive. He will say, 'I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.' If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.' "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!" declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My Name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'" (Zech. 13:4-9)
The details of the violent calamity are described in verses just preceding these:
"I [God speaking] am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem." (Zech. 12:2)
"On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place." (Zech. 12:6)
These are not the events that occurred when Jesus was arrested and tried. Rather, Zechariah is describing a violent overthrow of the kingdom of Judah that was to occur in future years - before the arrival of Jesus.

Zechariah lived in the Sixth Century BCE. During this century, Nebuchadnezzar and Nebuchadnezzar II attacked and pillaged Jerusalem and Judah multiple times. Following these, many of their inhabitants fled to surrounding regions. Jerusalem and Judah were also attacked by Artaxerxes III in 350 BCE. He arrested and killed many Jews, and imprisoned many.

In all, Jerusalem was attacked or besieged at least 75 different times over the centuries. It has been completely burnt down at least twice. It has undergone a change of rule at least 44 times. Judah has also undergone many sieges, often at the same time.

Zechariah was not predicting Jesus' arrest and trial in those verses.

Why did Jesus use Zechariah's verse then? Jesus was illustrating, using scripture, one of the tests the Supreme Being puts in front of those (such as Jesus' followers) who begin their path towards resuming their relationship with Him.

Each of us has choices to make with our lives. These choices determine whether we return to our relationship with God or not. Those who begin their journey are often tested.

Testing our dedication is necessary for our spiritual growth. Testing, in fact, is common amongst most relationships. When a man decides to have a relationship with a woman, he is often tested with options to go out with other women. His resisting those tests provide part of the glue of his relationship with the woman.

Now consider if a man and a woman have a long-term relationship, and the man runs off with another woman. After a couple of years, the man comes back to the woman, asking for her forgiveness and if he can return to their relationship. Will the woman drop everything and embrace him as she had before?

Not likely. The woman will most likely, assuming she wants to resume their relationship at all, go slowly. She wants to see how serious he really is. This 'going slowly' serves as the first test, because if the man isn't serious, he'll get frustrated and run off again.

Does God test us?

The Supreme Being also tests someone asking to return to Him - especially after we abandoned Him as we have done in our past. He will also go slowly, in addition to putting in front of us numerous tests. Because the Supreme Being also happens to control everything, He designs challenges that specifically test (and reveal) our unique weaknesses. This is designed to increase our sincerity. And should we fail a type of test, we'll likely be retested.

These tests are for our benefit. It isn't that He needs to test us. We need those tests in order to know where we are and how far we have to go.

In the beginning, such tests will be fairly basic. As we progress, the tests become more difficult. The tests perfectly reflect our individual level of advancement and particular weaknesses.

Even when we fail a test, God never gives up on us. The tests reveal our own weaknesses, which allow us to grow and become spiritually stronger. This is what occurred amongst Jesus' followers. They were tested, and most did not pass. Yet both Jesus and God forgave them, and they each learned a great lesson.

Did Jesus teach that he would die for our sins?

Despite the glossing over of Jesus' teachings by some sectarian institutions, we can see that Jesus oversaw the development of his followers' spiritual growth by maintaining disciplined devotional practices. This is indicated throughout the books of the new testament, and evidenced by the description of what Jesus and his disciples did after the "last supper" as quoted above:
When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matt. 26:30)
What does "sung a hymn" mean? It means they devoutly practiced praising God and His Holy Names after dinner. This wasn't a weekly ceremony. This was a continual devotional regimen. And this was what Jesus' taught and practiced - consistent with the teachings of the ancient "prophets" - in order to bring about a change of consciousness amongst his students.

This thesis of "Jesus died for my sins" bypasses the process of changing our hearts. This was formulated because it made it easy to join the church, where people could be manipulated by the Roman Catholic church's governance. This governance continued in modern times as priests used their authority to sexually abuse their parishioners, while the institution protected abusive priests.

Jesus never taught that all we have to do is wait until his body died on the cross and acknowledge that he died for our sins and then we are saved. He taught his students to change their consciousness from being servants of "mammon" to loving servants of God:
"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon." (Luke 16:9)
It is not easy to change. One must undergo significant devotional work and await gradual change to adjust our consciousness from lovers of materialism ("mammon") to lovers of God.

It is way easier to continue our self-centered behavior, and go to church every Sunday and make a proclamation that "Jesus died for my sins." This formula was a great strategy for collecting followers back then, and it still is today.

Jesus taught that we need to change from being servants of materialism ("mammon") to becoming loving servants of God. It means doing the hard work to change our consciousness.

This means being tested. It means humbly getting back up and dusting ourselves off when we fail our tests - just as Jesus' disciples did - and continuing the devotional progress, in order to change our hearts from self-centeredness to loving God and His children:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38)

"But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." (Matt. 26:32)

Jesus says this to his disciples at Mount Olives, after "they had sung a hymn" (Matt. 26:30) and following their supper - often termed the "last supper."

Did Jesus rise from the dead?

The phrase, "have risen" is being translated from the Greek word ἐγείρω (egeirō). ἐγείρω means "to be raised up" according to the lexicon.

What is Jesus speaking of that is being raised? Is he referring to his physical body?

Sectarian translators and interpreters will have us believe that Jesus' physical body awakens from the dead, thereby "rising up" - as if it was sleeping.

If Jesus' physical body "rises up" as if the body was sleeping, why wasn't Jesus recognized when he appeared to Mary, and to his closest disciples?
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 24:4)

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matt. 28:17)

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31)
Do these verses indicate Jesus was walking around in his physical body? If Jesus "rose up" in his physical body, why didn't his closest students and disciples recognize him when he appeared to them? And how could a physical body 'disappear from their sight'?

For example, today many families will pay a mortuary to embalm a dead body of a relative. They will embalm the body and display it in a casket for everyone to honor, even though the soul - the person - has left that body. This is done specifically because everyone will recognize the dead body before it is buried. But in Jesus' case, he isn't easily recognized after he had 'risen.' This means he did not rise with his body.

The true meaning of "have risen" or "rise up" is illustrated when one of Jesus' beloved students, Martha ('Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.' (John 11:5)) responded to Jesus when he said: "Your brother will rise again" (John 11:23):
Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." (John 11:24.
Martha was responding with what Jesus had been teaching, which is that a person will "rise" from their body at the time of death. The Greek word ἀνάστασις (anastasis), translated to "resurrection" means to "rise up," and ἀνίστημι (anistēmi), translated to "he will rise again" also means to "rise up."

What is the 'last day'?

"The last day" in Martha's statement - as was also used by Jesus and in other Biblical verses - indicates the time of death. In this context (because Martha was not speaking of some time in the distant future when the world would supposedly end), the Greek phrase ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ (eschatos hēmera) utilizes "day" in a metaphorical manner, meaning, as outlined in Thayer's lexicon to indicate "time in general." Thus the time of death is the only appropriate interpretation for the metaphorical use of "last day" here.

The speculative teaching that our physical bodies will rise again at the end of the world as taught by ecclesiastical (professional) sectarian teachers today is nonsense. A dead body will decompose within a year or two in normal conditions, leaving just the bones.

In normal acidic soil the bones will also decompose within a few decades. Any old bones we have found have been preserved by abnormal environmental conditions, such as freezing. Most dead bodies completely decompose to soil. Even those who claim to be saved will leave behind bodies that decompose within a few decades.

So what is supposed to "rise" then, some thousands of years later when the world supposedly ends? How can a decomposed body "rise"? This makes no sense.

Some sectarian teachings have tried to hide this inconsistency by suggesting that all the dead people (all the dead bodies?) have to wait in some kind of "purgatory" state for the "end of the world" scenario. So if their bodies have decomposed, in what state will they be waiting? And why would they have to wait?

It is amuzing that some of these very same sectarian teachers will often refer to someone who has died with, "they are with Jesus now."

How could they be "with Jesus now" if we are to believe that all everyone has to wait in purgatory for the end of the world?

This is a speculative imagining in order to mask a nonsensical doctrine that the body will rise after it dies.

What rises then?

The reality is that we rise up from our bodies at the time of death. This has been proven scientifically in clinical death research.

In a multitude of studies that have followed tens of thousands of patients who have died in the hospital, it has been proven that we rise up and out of our bodies at the time of death, and we can observe our body from above after we leave it. Millions of people have now had clinical death experiences like this.

Looking down at our body at the time of death illustrates that we are not the physical body. We are spiritual, not physical. This is what Jesus had been teaching his disciples:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matthew 10:28)
This illustrates that Jesus taught the existence of a "you" that exists after the body is killed. Who is this "you" Jesus is referring to that exists after the body is killed? Who is the "you" that can be thrown into hell?

This is the spiritual self. It is the person. The personality that gives life to the body.

Let's say we look at a picture of our body as a child. Then we look in the mirror at our adult body. The two bodies look different, yes? Yet we are the same person, yes? Our body is constantly changing, while we - the spiritual self - remains the same. Science tells us that all the molecules that made up that childhood body have been replaced by new molecules within five years. The body we had when we are a child is gone, and now we wear an adult body.

This same spiritual self who remains through changing bodies - this is the person who leaves the body at death. Each of us "rises" from the body, leaving the body lifeless. Jesus was trying to teach us to be focused on our spiritual selves, rather than our physical bodies because this is our true identity:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. (Matthew 6:25)

Wasn't Jesus' body missing?

Yes, Jesus' body did go missing, according to the text.

But we must recognize that Jesus's body could have simply been moved at some point before the third day. It was not as if no one could have rolled away the stone that Joseph himself rolled in front of the tomb:
He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:60)
If Joseph alone could have rolled the stone into place, surely another person or persons could have rolled the stone away as well.

The reason Jesus was in that tomb was because Jesus' body was requested by one of Jesus' disciples, Joseph of Arimathea. But it is most likely that Joseph only temporarily put Jesus' body in Joseph's "new" tomb. Under institutional temple law, a person's body was not supposed to be put in the tomb of a non-family member permanently.

Typically, the body would be laid in a temporary tomb, and then moved to a family tomb where the bones would be put into burial boxes. Therefore, Joseph's tomb was considered temporary:
Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:42)
While there is no clarity on where Jesus' physical body was eventually taken, a 1980 archaeological find has been suspected to be the tomb of Jesus' family. In this tomb, the researchers found ossuaries ('bone boxes') labeled in Aramaic, "James, brother of Jesus," "Jesus, son of Joseph," "Joseph," "Marium," and others in the same tomb.

While there has been controversy surrounding this tomb, research by a team of scientists led by North Carolina University Professor of Religious Studies James D. Tabor and Simcha Jacobovici maintains the possibility that Jesus' body was moved to a family tomb - consistent with Jewish practice. The findings were the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary that first aired in 2007.

What about Jesus appearing to his disciples?

From the scriptures, we find that Jesus was not recognized by his closest students after he "rose" illustrates that he had left his physical body. He appeared before his disciples on several occasions and even proved his identity by showing holes in his ethereal body.

This latter fact also illustrates Jesus was not appearing in his physical body. A physical body that had holes in it would be spilling blood all over the place. It would be a bloody mess.

As evidenced by the fact that he could control his appearances and recognition, showing holes in his hands illustrates Jesus' ability to manipulate his angel-like appearance to reassure his students of his identity. After all Jesus appeared suddenly to his disciples several times. He didn't walk up in his physical body. When Jesus appeared to his disciples at their dinner, for example, the doors were locked. How did Jesus get in if he was wearing his physical body?

As for Jesus meeting them in Galilee - as we'll find later - Jesus is referring to his appearing to his disciples in Galilee after the death of his physical body. He was preparing them to pass on his teachings to others:
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
And what did Jesus teach that he wanted his disciples to also preach?
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:37-40)

"I tell you the truth, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." (Matthew 26:34)

Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "Truly I tell you," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same."Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." (Matthew 26:33-35)

Why did Jesus say Peter would disown him?

Jesus was communicating an important lesson to Peter and the rest of his students regarding humility and devotion. We find later that Jesus' prediction came true:
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!" After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matt. 26:70-75)
This is not simply another miracle by Jesus. There is an important lesson to all of us within this event.

Jesus made his prediction in response to Peter's confidence of his devotion and dedication to Jesus. Jesus was illustrating that being confident about our devotion is a mistake.

This is based on the fact that any devotion we have to God is granted by God. Devotion is part of a relationship, and in this relationship, God is the gatekeeper.

This is not unlike other relationships. We might be confident that we are someone's boyfriend or girlfriend, but what if the other person doesn't want to be our girlfriend or boyfriend? A relationship always requires the participation of someone else - someone we cannot control.

In the same way, we can't simply go through some mechanical rituals and expect that we are now linked up with the Supreme Being, and have a solid relationship with Him. God must also participate. And we have no control over God's participation.

This requires humility. While many boast their allegiance to Jesus and/or God among the many sectarian religions of today, it is humble devotion that God is attracted to.

Should we announce that we are saved?

Just imagine if we announced to the whole world on television that someone was our boyfriend or girlfriend without their permission, or even without their agreeing that we were even officially our boyfriend and girlfriend. How would they feel? What if they were a well-known person?

They would undoubtedly feel that we were using them to bring attention to ourselves. They would feel that we were abusing the relationship for our own gain.

It is no different when a person makes confident announcements about their faith. Just think about the various confident comments we often hear: "I am born again." "I am saved." "I love Jesus." These are grandiose statements intended to bring attention to ourselves. To announce to others that we have arrived.

This is not devotion, because real devotion is inseparable from humility. Real devotion does not come with big announcements about our own dedication, as Simon Peter made to Jesus.

Jesus was trying to teach this lesson of humble devotion to his students. And God executed the lesson as Peter indeed denied Jesus three times.

The lesson is that regardless of whatever devotion we have developed, or whatever knowledge we have been given by virtue of that devotion, it evaporates with arrogance. All our devotion and spiritual knowledge is granted by and comes from the Supreme Being. He is the source of all of it.

What is devotion?

Devotion or commitment is part of a relationship. The Supreme Being is a gentle, loving and playful person. But He does not want to hang around those who are arrogant and self-confident.

Who would? Would any of us want to play with an arrogant team-member, who had little praise for others? And when the team wins, the person says they are the reason the team won? No one would want to be on his team. We like "team players," who humbly give credit to the team when the team wins.

Whether we like it or not, we are each members of a special, personal "team." Our "team" is composed of the Supreme Being, His loving servants and representatives and each of us as individuals. Who are we to make grandiose announcements about how "saved" or otherwise spiritually advanced we are?

Rather, any advancement we have has been mercifully given to us.

This is the lesson Jesus was trying to teach Peter, and his students in general. Jesus reiterated this point as he also said:
"Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, The greatest among you will be your servant." (Matt. 23:10-11)
Being a servant is a position of humility, where a person is wanting to provide service to another. Jesus wanted his students to serve the Supreme Being, and also serve humanity by passing on his teachings to others. Jesus taught this by example:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
Developing real humility was a big part of Jesus' teachings, because humility, ultimately is our natural position. Jesus illustrated his own humility and devotion to the Supreme Being as he prayed to God and sang hymns to God on separate occasions:
After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (Mark 6:46)

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matt. 14:26)

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matt. 26:39)
These illustrate that Jesus was humble regarding even his own relationship with God. Praying to God and singing hymns to God are indications of humble devotion in practice.

We were each created by the Supreme Being to be one of His loving care-givers and playmates. But we have forgotten this relationship due to our arrogance and self-centeredness. That is why we are away from Him, within these temporary physical bodies within the physical world.

Returning to our natural position thus requires a change of consciousness. Confidently proclaiming to be "saved" or "born again" is not the same as a change of consciousness. Changing our consciousness requires humbly coming to know, love and serve the Supreme Being. We must re-develop our loving relationship with Him in order to return to our natural position as His servitor. This is why Jesus taught:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matt. 22:37-40)

"Sit here while I go over there and pray." (Matthew 26:36)

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." (Matthew 26:36)

Who did Jesus pray to?

Jesus goes to pray after his discussion with his disciples.

This statement communicates something very important, contradicting the teachings of many sectarian teachers that Jesus is God:

Who would Jesus need to pray to if he were God?

Sectarian teachers get real fuzzy when asked this. They start fumbling about the "trinity," saying that "Jesus was God, but not the Father God - he was the Son God" or something to that extent.

Then we must ask them again: Who is Jesus praying to? This is clarified with his prayer:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)
Thus we find among the teachings of some sectarian institutions: In their fervor to claim Jesus is God, they ignore the Father - the Person Jesus was praying to.

Who is Jesus' 'Father'?

The Father is the Supreme Being. The Greek word being translated to "Father" is πατήρ (patēr). This can also be translated to the Creator according to Thayer's lexicon.

Some have envisioned God as an old man with a long grey beard, as portrayed in some paintings. But the official stance of many sectarian teachers is that God is a vague impersonal force. An impersonal force that became man in the form of Jesus.

This presents again the original problem: If God is an impersonal force, who was Jesus praying to? Who would hear Jesus' prayers? Does an impersonal force hear? And why should someone pray to an impersonal force anyway?

And could an impersonal force have a will?
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
"For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matt. 12:50)
How about location? Jesus' two statements above indicate that God, Jesus' Father, is "in heaven." Can a vague impersonal force have a place of domicile?

And how about all the conversations that take place in the Bible between God and His various servants, such as Moses, Joshua, Noah, David and others? Does a vague impersonal force have conversations with people?

And how about love? Jesus, Moses and the prophets taught that we should love God:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
Can we love a vague impersonal force? Can we even know a vague impersonal force? And how could we love someone if we don't know them?

Is God a Person?

These logical questions can only conclude that Jesus was teaching us that the Supreme Being is ultimately a Person. Someone with a will. Someone who can hear our prayers. Someone we can love.

None of Jesus' major teachings can support a hypothesis that the Supreme Being is a vague impersonal force.

The Bible tells us that God has conversations with people. He has a will. He has the ability to exchange love.

It is nonsensical that a vague impersonal force would have conversations, a will, a place of domicile, and the ability to exchange love. These are all characteristics of a person: A person has a will. A person has conversations. A person exchanges love.

Thus we must come to the conclusion that God is a person. A personal being who is not Jesus.

How do we know that God is not Jesus?

Because Jesus is praying to Him. Jesus is not a con artist. He was not pretending to be someone he was not.

Jesus was trying to illustrate precisely who he was via his statement here and elsewhere who he really was. And this is illustrated by what Jesus in fact prayed (as observed by Peter, James and John, whom he asked to come with him):
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matt. 26:39)
With his prayer, Jesus clarifies not only that he was not God - in that he could have a different will from God - but that he is God's loving, devoted servant.

Only a person who is devoted to another will ask that person if they can do what the other person wants them to do (their "will").

This also means that God is a personal God; a Person with a will and a Person we can exchange a loving relationship with.

And God isn't an old man with grey hair and a long beard.

The Supreme Being is not only a Person; He is the most beautiful Person. He is ever-youthful, fun, attractive, playful, caring, compassionate, understanding, honest, steadfast, reliable, funny, gregarious, forthright and loving.

He is everything we want in a best friend, companion, master, mentor and beloved.

He is the Perfect Person we all look for throughout our lives, as we look for that "soul mate."

He is the Perfect Person we all expect our spouses or girlfriends or boyfriends to be but aren't.

He is that Person we know deep inside is "out there for us."

So how do we get re-acquainted with the Supreme Being? This has been detailed by many ancient spiritual teachers, including Jesus. We can reach out to God at any time through prayer, as Jesus is showing us here. We can recite, sing and praise God's Holy Names.

We can also make offerings to God. Before we eat, we can offer our food to Him.

We can also ask Him like Jesus is doing with his prayer if we can learn to love Him and serve Him with our lives.

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." (Matthew 26:38)

He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:37-38)

Why did Jesus become 'sorrowful and troubled'?

Why did Jesus become "sorrowful and troubled" and "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death"?

The word "sorrow" here is being translated from the Greek word περίλυπος (perilypos) which means, "very sad" and "exceedingly sorrowful" according to the lexicon, and "so much as to cause one's death."

Sectarian teachers would have us believe that Jesus' sorrow was related either to Judas' betrayal, Peter's denial, or both. If this were true, why did he ask Peter with the other two disciples to come with him?

And why did he only just begin to feel sorrowful and troubled? The word "began" comes from the Greek ἄρχω (archō), which means to "be first" or "to begin." It is clear this was the first indication of Jesus' being sorrowful and troubled.

If Jesus felt sorrowful and troubled about Judas betraying him or about Peter denying him, or even about his disciples abandoning him, this would have become evident when he pointed out these forthcoming events in the previous conversations.

Rather, the reason for his sorrow was reflected by his prayer to the Supreme Being.

What were Jesus' prayers of sorrow?

"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39)
and then a few minutes later,
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." (Matthew 26:42)
What is troubling Jesus is being expressed in his prayer, since 1) he became troubled just before his prayers; and 2) he was so troubled about it that he prayed about it three times (yes, he made the same prayer a third time). It is also logical that Jesus or anyone else would pray about something that was troubling him.

The secret to his sorrow, then, lies within his prayers. And these prayers also unfold the very nature and essence of who Jesus was.

It is evident that what is causing Jesus tremendous sorrow has to do with his knowledge of his coming ordeal, which he knows will be his forthcoming arrest and execution - as he indicated previously his foreknowledge of these events in his previous conversation with his disciples.

Why was Jesus struggling with what would happen?

So we can see by Jesus' two prayers that he is struggling with what he wants versus doing God's will - what God wants.

Why is this important at this moment? Because Jesus knows that he will be arrested in a few minutes, and he could easily escape at that very moment. He could walk away, and avoid his arrest and execution.

In other words, Jesus could have run off into the night, changed his clothes and looks, and escaped to another part of the country.

Yes. Jesus could have completely avoided his arrest and persecution. He could have escaped into the wilderness.

Jesus was struggling with this. He asked three of his disciples to join him as he went off to pray. Why?

So they could keep watch, and allow him to pray without being arrested in the middle of his prayer. They would be able to warn him if someone was approaching.

This is because at that moment he was not resolved. He needed to pray about whether he should escape arrest or not.

Jesus' struggle, his prayer, and eventual resolve gets at the heart of who Jesus was.

How does this define Jesus?

First, it indicates that Jesus was not the Supreme Being. Because he had desires separate from God and struggled with doing God's will in this situation, we know that Jesus was not God.

Second, it indicates that Jesus had free will. He could have chosen not to do God's will. He could have run off and lived out the remainder of his life on the sea as a fisherman or a carpenter. The Romans and High Priests would have certainly left him alone, because he would no longer threaten their authority with his teachings.

Jesus could have altogether avoided being whipped and crucified. He could have evaded arrest.

Third, this indicates that Jesus wrestled with his choice. He was "troubled" and even "sorrowful" that he was thinking of being persecuted physically. He first prayed to God to prevent the whole thing from happening. He didn't want to be arrested and crucified. He preferred that God take it all away.

Fourth, Jesus ultimately sees that this is what God wants, and decides he will do what God wants. He will stand his ground and stand behind his teachings. He will remain at Gethsemane, where he knows that Judas will bring the Roman guards and high priest to have him arrested.

This indicates clearly that while Jesus was an individual with choice, he chose to be God's loving, devoted servant. He chose to do what the Supreme Being wanted him to do even though his body would suffer. This fact is confirmed by another statement by Jesus:
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
This means that while Jesus was sent by God, God still granted Jesus the freedom of choice to serve Him or not. As such, Jesus did struggle with his upcoming arrest and persecution because he knew his physical body would suffer. But Jesus ultimately did what God wanted, because he loved God, and wanted to please God:
"... for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me." (John 5:30)
This is the meaning of loving God: Wanting to please the Supreme Being with our lives. Caring more about what He wants than what we want.

This is what Jesus did, and this is what Jesus taught:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matthew 23:37-38)

"My Father, if it is possible ... Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39)

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)
Here Jesus, troubled and full of sorrow; having left the group of his students and walked to a place called Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36), put his face on the ground in the presence of Peter, James and John to say this prayer.

Does this prove that Jesus is God?

Actually, it proves he isn't God. The fact that Jesus fell to his face on the ground illustrates Jesus' devotion to the Supreme Being.

Jesus saw himself as God's humble servant, and this posture - of putting his face to the ground - was (and still is) a customary position for a devoted loving servant of God.

This contradicts teachings that proclaim that Jesus is God. Would God pray to Himself? Would God fall to his face in humble prayer to Himself? It is simply ludicrous that people would read these verses and still believe that Jesus could possibly be God.

At any rate, the previous verse explains that Jesus was troubled, and this was expressed in Jesus' prayer. Jesus was troubled because he knew he was going to be arrested shortly and tried and persecuted at the hands of the Romans. So Jesus was struggling with the fact that he could, at that moment, easily slip away and avoid the arrest altogether.

What did Jesus' prayer mean?

Jesus begins by asking God, "if it is possible." The key Greek words used here are:

"If" comes from εἰ (ei) - but can also mean "whether" according to the lexicon.

"Possible" is being translated from δυνατός (dynatos) - means "able, powerful, mighty, strong" according to the lexicon, as well as "to be able (to do something)".

The word "cup" is being translated from the Greek word ποτήριον (potērion) as indeed it can refer to "a cup," or "a drinking vessel" according to the lexicon. However, in this case, it is being used metaphorically, as Jesus is hardly speaking of cups here.

The metaphorical meaning of ποτήριον according to Thayer's lexicon, is: "one's lot or experience, whether joyous or adverse, divine appointments, whether favorable or unfavorable, are likened to a cup which God presents one to drink: so of prosperity and adversity."

In other words, the word ποτήριον indicates a person's "lot" or "fate."

Here "be taken" is derived from παρέρχομαι (parerchomai), positioned on both sides of is being translated to "be taken" here. While it can mean "to go past" or "pass by" according to the lexicon, again we must apply its metaphorical meaning here, and according to the lexicon, this is: "to pass away" or "perish." Understanding this, what is being communicated can be better captured with "to remove."

Then "from" is translated from ἀπό (apo) here. This is appropriate, as its literal meaning is "to be separated from."

Then ἐγώ (egō) refers appropriately to the personal pronoun, "me."

As we put this together, Jesus is asking in the first part of his prayer that a particular "lot" or "fate" be "removed" or "taken from" him.

What is he asking to be removed? His fate. And what is his fate? He just disclosed his fate to his disciples, as he indicated that he would be arrested and persecuted, while his disciples would abandon him.

This indicates that the fate Jesus is asking God to remove is his coming persecution at the hands of the Romans. He is asking God if it is possible that this does not take place.

Jesus is asking this, again, because he is "troubled." He told Peter, James and John before this prayer: "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." (Matthew 26:38)

Did Jesus accommodate God?

It is customary, even today, for a person to pray to God when troubled about something. Jesus was obviously troubled about his forthcoming persecution, and wondering if God could change his fate. Especially when he could have, at that very moment, run off and avoid his coming arrest altogether.

The key to the prayer is that even with his asking God this, he also accommodates God by pledging that he will do what pleases God:

The Greek πλήν (plēn) is translated to "yet," but means "moreover, besides, but, nevertheless" according to the lexicon. While "yet" is not necessarily wrong, it does not communicate the point. "Moreover, besides, but, nevertheless" does not mean "yet."

"Moreover" indicates "more importantly," or even "notwithstanding" - as the word has been translated elsewhere in the New Testament. The point is that Jesus is not saying "yet" here, he is saying the next thing he says in his prayer is "more important". He is saying "more importantly..."

The next phrase is better broken down in two parts. The Greek phrase, οὐχ ὡς ἐγὼ θέλω indicates - and is appropriately translated to - "not as I will."  However, the phrase is deeper than even this. The word "will" translates from θέλω (thelō), which means "to intend," "to be resolved," "determined," "to purpose," "to desire" or "to wish" according to Thayer's lexicon.

So the translation could just as well said, "not what I want" or "not according to my wishes".

The last part of the phrase, ἀλλ’ ὡς σύ, indicates - and is appropriately translated to - "but as You will." Because the Greek phrase is possessive and does not contain the word θέλω (thelō) as the first phrase did, it actually means something like "but Yours." In other words, "not my wishes, but Yours."

But since this could be misunderstood, the translators have appropriately restated "will" here, as Jesus is saying "Not my will, but Your will." This could be rephrased as, "not what I want, but what You want."

So as we examine the Greek, the more appropriate understanding of Jesus' prayer would be something like:
"My Father, if it is possible, please remove my coming fate. More importantly, may I not do what I want, but what You want."

What does his second prayer mean?

This translation and interpretation of Jesus' prayer, and his struggle with his coming fate is confirmed by his second prayer, where Jesus resigns himself to his fate. The current NIV translation is:
"My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may Your will be done." (Matt. 26:42)
However, in this second prayer, there is no reason for the word "cup" to be included. The first prayer's Greek word ποτήριον (potērion), translated to "cup" but really referring to "lot" or "fate," isn't in the second prayer at all. Rather, the second prayer uses the Greek word αὐτός (autos), which means "this" is assumed to be referring to "cup", only because in this second prayer Jesus uses the word πίνω (pinō), which can mean "to drink" according to the lexicon. However, when πίνω is used in the figurative sense, it means, according to the lexicon: "to receive..."

Besides, a person does not drink a cup. A person drinks from a cup.

This means that Jesus' second prayer also is not talking about a cup at all, but is referring to Jesus' being resigned to receive his fate rather than asking God to remove his fate as he does in the first prayer.

Then Jesus says virtually the same thing in the second part of the second prayer as the second part of the first prayer, but conclusively. The Greek phrase is γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, which means "Your will be done." This utilizes the Greek word θέλημα (thelēma) which also indicates "will" but also means "desires" or "wishes."

Thus the second prayer goes something like this:
“O my Lord, if this cup may not be taken from me unless I drink from it, may You be pleased."

Did Jesus want to please God?

The bottom line is that Jesus is wanting to do what pleases the Supreme Being. And Jesus certainly was struggling with his fate (metaphorically stated as a cup) but understood through his prayers that this is what God wanted him to do.

Why? Why did the Supreme Being allow Jesus to be persecuted, beaten and gruesomely murdered? Was it all God's big plan to redeem our sins with Jesus' life - like some sacrificial lamb - as some sectarians propose?

This is a ridiculous proposition. God does not need to sacrifice anyone on the cross in order to redeem, or purify us of our sins. God is the Supreme Controller. He can purify or cleanse sins simply by willing it. He does not need to have any kind of physical mechanism - someone suffering - to redeem sins.

Jesus himself confirms this, as he taught his students to pray:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debt, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matt. 6:9-13)
The part of the prayer: "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors," translates the Greek word ὀφείλημα (opheilēma) to "debts," which can also mean "sins" according to the lexicon. Thus some translations of the Lord's prayer, say:
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us."
Jesus confirms this when he says afterward:
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:14-15)
Now if the only way to be forgiven our sins was to have Jesus die on the cross, why does Jesus tell his students to ask God for forgiveness? Why didn't Jesus simply tell his students: "Just wait until they crucify me, and then just accept that my death wipes away your sins"? No, he did not say that, because it isn't true. God can forgive our sins directly. We simply need to ask Him, and we have to be willing to forgive others.

This means that this whole routine revolving around Easter is simply a farce. All the empty ceremonies, such as "Good Friday" and "Easter" are simply offensive celebrations.

What is "Good" about the day that Jesus was beaten and murdered by unbelievers who felt threatened by Jesus' teachings? Some sectarian teachers want to call this day "good" because they are rejoicing about how their sins are now forgiven. In other words, it's all about getting cleansed. This is the ultimate self-centered illusion.

Could this be true? That once Jesus died, we no longer have to be responsible for our actions? We can simply wipe our responsibilities off on Jesus? Is Jesus our doormat that we simply wipe our sins off on? This is an offensive position that only a self-centered person would take.

And what about "Easter"? What about all the Easter egg hunts and the chocolate bunnies? What does this materialism have to do with Jesus, who taught that we should not seek after material things, but seek love of God? What does Easter have to do with God at all? Nothing.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear." (Luke 12:22)
Oh, but isn't Easter supposed to commemorate that Jesus rose from the dead? So are they saying that Jesus died? And then proved that he was the son of God by rising from the dead?

Did Jesus die?

The sectarian mantra typically goes like this: "Jesus died for my sins." But did he die?

Yes, his physical body died, and Jesus, the person, the loving servant and representative of God, never died. Instead, he left his body at the time of death. This is in fact confirmed in the scriptures:
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
"Gave up his spirit" - from the Greek phrase, ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα - means to "depart" (ἀφῆκεν) from the body. Quite literally, the phrase, ἀφῆκεν τὸ πνεῦμα means his spirit departed.

We all leave our bodies at the time of death. We all "rise" up out of our bodies and continue to live. This has been proven in millions of cases of clinical death, where the person describes rising up above the body and looking down on it.

Jesus' rise from his dead physical body was different, as he explained earlier, that when his body dies, he would be returning to God in the spiritual realm:
"Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)
But what about Jesus' appearances to his disciples after this? Certainly Jesus had the authority to make appear, just as angels appear to people. But Jesus did not appear in his dead physical body. How do we know that?

The scripture states clearly that Jesus appeared in a form different from his physical body:
Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. (Mark 16:12)

Furthermore, Jesus' close students and disciples did not recognize him:

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:15)

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 24:4)

At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 20:14)

When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. (Matt. 28:17)

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. (Luke 24:31)
Is there any indication in the above verses that Jesus "rose" in his physical body? These verses contradict such a ridiculous notion.

But what about Jesus' missing body? This is besides the point. Just because the body was gone doesn't mean Jesus appeared in his physical body. The first tomb belonged to the family of Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38). And because institutional temple law made it illegal for a person to be put into the tomb belonging to someone else, certainly Jesus' physical body was likely simply taken to another tomb - a permanent tomb.

In fact, recent archaeological findings have likely found the family tomb of Jesus and possibly even his ossuary (bone box).

Jesus didn't teach that we rise in our physical bodies. Jesus taught that the body was temporary:
"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)
These are the teachings of a person who understood that the body is a temporary vehicle, and we are the person who lives on after the death of the physical body. How else could a person go to hell after the body dies if they don't leave the body?

But yes, for those who believe that we are the physical body, and there is no life after death, there can be meaning for Jesus to have lived on after the death of his body. But the verses are clear that he did not rise in his physical body. Otherwise, his close students and disciples would have immediately recognized him.

And yes, it is true that if a person realizes the meaning of Jesus' willing to do God's will, and stand up for his teachings (which were to love God), and not run away and avoid arrest, and be willing to sacrifice his life in the service of God, then that person can become purified.

The real purification from understanding Jesus' ultimate sacrifice, is the realization that Jesus was willing to do God's will, despite the pain he would endure because he wanted to please the Supreme Being. He loved God and wanted to please Him.

It is understanding this act of love for God that has the power to "save" or "purify" us, simply because it can raise our consciousness to the point where we can also desire to love God. And it is this desire to love God and please God that opens the door to return to our natural loving relationship with God, and ultimately returning home to Him in the spiritual world, as Jesus has.

Why did God allow Jesus to be crucified?

This question has been asked by many for centuries, without real answers.

The first point to be made is that it was Jesus who permitted this to happen. Jesus knew he was going to be arrested. He could have escaped before his arrest. There is also evidence that he actually instructed Judas to tell the Chief High Priest where Jesus would be in order to arrest him.

Thus we can see that Jesus played a role in his arrest. He could have at least avoided it and ran off into the desert. He could have also chosen to diplomatically answer the High Priest's questions, which would have likely gotten Jesus dismissed.

But Jesus didn't choose to do this. Jesus chose to stand up for God and his teachings.

Jesus, being God's loving servant and representative, was not going to run away under the threat of arrest. He was going to stand behind his teachings, because these were God's teachings. This brought the ultimate pleasure to Jesus because it pleased the One he loved - God.

Therefore, it was Jesus who chose to serve God by standing up for His teachings. God simply gave Jesus the freedom to accept this fate - just as God gave the Jewish high priest the freedom to arrest Jesus and set him up to be condemned to death.

Yes, the Supreme Being is giving all of us certain freedoms while we are here. We have the freedom to reject God, or the freedom to accept God. This is our choice. God also gave us the freedom to condemn His messengers - and even harm them.

To do otherwise would be to take away our freedom - which is required in order to truly come to love God.

Today we see all kinds of people choose to make sacrifices. Some give their lives for their country. Some give their lives to protest a government. Why? Because they believe in their cause, and they want to show others just how important that cause is.

This is no different from Jesus, but Jesus' cause was love for God. He wanted others to understand just how important it is that we come to know and love the Supreme Being. It was important enough for him to make the ultimate sacrifice for. And it is understanding this message that can save us:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

"The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41)

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Couldn't you men keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41)

Why did Jesus say this?

Jesus said this to Peter, James and John after his first prayer at Gethsemane.

Jesus was making two important points here. The first is that his disciples had not followed his instruction, as he had requested that Peter, John and James keep watch, as he was expecting to be arrested shortly:
"Stay here and keep watch with me." (Matt. 26:38)
In this first part of his statement, Jesus is chastising his students for not following his instructions to watch out for him while he prayed.

The second part of this statement indicates a core element of Jesus' teachings. Jesus clearly taught there was a distinction between the spiritual person and the physical body:

What does 'the spirit is willing' mean?

Who is Jesus referring to as the "spirit"? We can see here that the "spirit" has a will - "is willing." Only a person can have a will, and thus we can conclude that the "spirit" Jesus refers to is the person within.

The word "spirit" is being translated from the Greek word πνεῦμα (pneuma). According to the lexicon, this means, "the vital principal by which the body is animated." as well as "a life giving spirit," and "the soul."

Many refer to the soul as a part of a person - like an organ or something. Others will refer to the soul as one's morality.

Here we can see that Jesus' use of the word "spirit" does not relate to a part of a person or one's morality. Jesus is referring to "spirit" as the individual spiritual person: Again, only an individual person (spirit) can have a will.

What does 'the body is weak' mean?

But then the verse states Jesus said, "but the body is weak." This is a slight mistranslation, because the Greek word being translated to "body" is σάρξ (sarx), which according to the lexicon means "flesh (the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood) of both man and beasts." Without the parenthesis: "flesh of both man and beasts."

More importantly, the word also means, again according to the lexicon, "the sensuous nature of man, "the animal nature"" and "the animal nature with cravings which incite to sin."

We can see from these definitions that the word "body" falls short of capturing the real meaning of Jesus' statement. He was saying that while the spiritual person might be willing to do something, the cravings of the physical body can pull the person otherwise.

Why is the body 'weak'?

How can we be willing to do something, yet be driven to do something else by virtue of our physical body and its inherent "cravings"? Many characterize this as "the devil," as in: "the devil made me do it." This is often conjured as having a little devil on our shoulders, who is constantly tempting us.

The answer lies within the reason for our occupation of these physical bodies in the first place.

Each of us is a spiritual individual created by the Supreme Being to share the spiritual realm with Him, play with Him, and be one of His care-givers. He wanted to share loving relationships with us. But real love requires freedom, so God gave us the freedom to love Him or not. He gave us the choice to engage in a relationship with Him or not.

Some of us decided to exercise that freedom. So we "ate the fruit" of self-centeredness, and decided we did not want to be His caregiver anymore.

Since the population of the spiritual realm is full of love without self-centeredness, those of us who chose not to love Him were relocated away from the spiritual realm.

Since we are spiritual by nature, this relocation requires a virtual existence. One where we could take on a role different than our real nature. In order to take on a self-centered existence, we need a virtual personality - because our true nature is loving and selfless.

So the Supreme Being designed a virtual universe where we could occupy temporary physical bodies and play temporary roles, in order to exercise our self-centeredness.

We might compare this to a play, where the actors put on costumes and play roles different than their "real" roles.

To complete the analogy, our "costumes" are these physical bodies.

We know these physical bodies are temporary and we are playing temporary roles in them because our bodies keep changing and our roles keep changing - yet each of us is still the same person within. When our body is young, we play the role of a child. When our body grows older, we play the role of a teenager. Later we play the role of an adult, with a job and family. Then later we play the role of a senior citizen.

Each of these roles are not us. We are simply playing them because we are expected by society to play these roles, and we identify with this changing body as it ages.

Why does the body not satisfy us?

The physical body is a temporary vehicle for the living being. Each of us is driving our physical body much like a person would drive a car. And as most of us have experienced, when we are driving a car we begin to identify with it.

We also begin to identify the other drivers on the road with their cars. When we are passed on the highway by a speeder in a red car, we will say, "that red car is speeding." We are thus identifying the driver as their car.

In the same way, after a short time within these physical bodies, we begin to identify with them. This is the design of the physical world, as programmed by the Supreme Being.

As we identify with these physical bodies, we also seek our happiness through them. We begin to think that our happiness revolves around whether the body feels good. This is also designed by the Supreme Being.

The body is designed to release neurotransmitters called dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, which signal to our brain that something is good for the body. Eating something sweet or having a sexual orgasm, for example, will cause the brain to release these "feel good" chemicals. These "feel good" chemicals trick us - the spirit-person within - into thinking we become happy when the nerves are saturated with one or more of these "feel good" neurotransmitters.

Yet no one actually becomes happier when the body is saturated with these neurotransmitters. The sensation might feel good to our body, but the spiritual person within is not satisfied.

This might be likened to a car driver feeling hungry and thinking that if he filled his car's tank with gas the driver would not feel hungry anymore. No. The car's gas tank gets filled up, but the driver's stomach is not touched by the gas. The driver will still feel hungry, even when the gas tank is full.

It is the same with the spiritual being driving the physical body. The reason that so many people living in the physical world are unhappy - even those with great wealth and all the sweet foods and sexual organisms they could ever want - is because we are spiritual in essence, not physical.

And this is what Jesus is trying to teach his students. His students' bodies may feel more comfortable sleeping, but their spiritual selves will only be satisfied when they are fixed within their real identity - being one of the Supreme Being's loving servants.

The Supreme Being wants us back. He wants us to return to His loving arms. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)