Last updated on September 27, 2022
I have to confess, I have a hard time now referring to Easter as the day Jesus Christ was resurrected. I prefer to refer to this Sunday as The Feast of First Fruits. The name “Easter” has pagan origins and has nothing to do with the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Messiah (Jesus, the Christ).
While writing my third book in the Seventh Dimension Series, The Castle, I did a lot of research that has impacted my understanding of the Passion of Christ. To be completely transparent, I have always tended to skip over that part of the four Gospels.
What happened to Yeshua is so disturbing, it’s not something I want to think about. I know He suffered and died for me because of my rebellion and sin. I deserve the death He bore for me on the cross.
Thinking about the cross is uncomfortable. I’ve read those passages many times in my almost fifty years of being a Christian. Yeshua led a perfect life. What He endured was horrible. It’s difficult to read. It’s disturbing.
The cross is what sets apart the believers from the non-believers. It’s heavy. It forces you to confront your own wicked heart. Once you have accepted Yeshua as your personal Savior, it’s difficult to read those passages because you know the suffering He endured He chose willingly. To put it personally, He did it for you and for me.
I spent close to two months reading several books and scouring the web to understand as much as I could about the Passion of Christ. To write about something like this, you need to know it well. And I wanted everything I wrote to be historically accurate.
The Passion of Christ in The Castle has been the hardest material I have ever written. I suffered immensely. Much of it, I believe, was due to spiritual warfare. One morning I woke up from a disturbing night’s sleep, and before I could pray, God spoke to me. He said three words: “Finish the book.” So that’s what I did. The first draft is finished and I am working on my own edits before submitting it to beta readers and professional editors.
I remember many years ago when I went through a painful divorce, someone said to me, “I wouldn’t want to go through what you’ve been through, but I envy what God has taught you.”
When we suffer, when we dig deep, when we read, when we pray, the amount that we invest in that process God honors abundantly. He comes alongside us and gives us Himself. He pours His Spirit into our souls. He opens our eyes. He talks to our hearts in a spiritual language that is far deeper than our human understanding of Scripture
Yeshua underwent six grueling appearances before the political and religious leaders in the twenty-four hours before his brutal death. Below is an excerpt from The Castle of one of those appearances.
I don’t want to tell you to enjoy this excerpt. I do hope it will make you uncomfortable. Mostly, I hope on Sunday, you will set aside some time to truly reflect on what the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Messiah, means to you. He was the First Fruit, meaning He was the first to be resurrected of the millions who will be resurrected at the last trumpet.
To give you a tiny bit of background, Daniel, Sperling, the protagonist in The Castle, is a witness to the events that took place. At this point in the story, he is twenty years old, Israeli, and does not believe Jesus is the Messiah. He is from our time and was transported back to the first century—to what I call a spiritual reality, the Seventh Dimension. The excerpt concerns Yeshua’s appearance before Herod Antipas, the fifth appearance in His six-part trial before being executed by crucifixion.
Chapter 23, Clowns and Circus
We entered the Hasmonean Palace where Herod Antipas stayed on his infrequent visits to Jerusalem. The attendants greeted us with guarded cordiality, but their uncomfortable glances at Yeshua spoke of silent apprehension. I doubted many prisoners appeared before Herod Antipas—especially ones sent from Pontius Pilate.
A runner must have warned Herod Antipas of our impending arrival. We seemed to be expected. Once the porter closed the door, the soldiers shoved Yeshua forward. His chains dragged along the marble floors and the heavy grating echoed off the walls. We crowded around and waited. Hopeful anticipation covered the faces of Caiaphas and Annas. A few minutes later, the Tetrarch made a flamboyant entrance. Exaggerated gesticulations of his hands revealed his extreme delight in meeting Yeshua.
The Tetrarch plopped down in a large chair and his attendants spread out the oversized robe beneath his feet. Once the servants took their positions beside the ruler, Herod turned his full attention to Yeshua. Twirling his hand, the Tetrarch smirked, “So at last we meet.” The Tetrarch rolled his eyes. “And under such extraordinary circumstances.”
Yeshua, bruised and exhausted, said nothing, not even to lift his head.
Herod took a different approach. “Come now, Rabbi, I have heard much about you. In fact, I have wanted to meet you for a long time, but perhaps the reports of your miracles are greatly exaggerated.”
Yeshua still said nothing. His silence put a damper on the Tetrarch’s enthusiasm, but Herod wasn’t so easily deterred. I knew his reputation. He couldn’t let this supposed miracle worker make him look bad.
With an air of flattery, Herod continued. “I’ve heard that you cast out demons.”
Yeshua’s countenance never changed. He stood, bloodshot eyes focused on the floor, arms behind his back, chained and bound between two guards.
When Yeshua remained silent, Herod Antipas filled the awkwardness with rambling blather, boasting about his authority, how much he liked John the Baptist—another of the rabbi’s kind—and how unfortunate it was that he had to behead him.
Yeshua remained silent.
“Oh, let me see, what have I forgotten?” the Tetrarch mused. He flashed his eyes at the ceiling. “Yes, you even raised a man from the dead.” An awkward silence followed again when Yeshua refused to answer.
Caiaphas and Annas waited patiently as the Tetrarch rattled on at the rabbi’s expense. The scene reminded me of a trapped, helpless animal taunted by bullies, only later to be slowly tortured. I glanced away, as had a paltry few others—resigned to the inevitable.
After a while, Herod must have realized Yeshua wasn’t going to answer him. The pompous ruler clapped his hands. “I insist you show me a miracle.”
Yeshua remained silent.
I remembered being at a circus when I was young. My memory superimposed itself on the room. Another dimension had found its way here. That moment wrapped itself around this one. Time once again became an illusion.
Blue and yellow floodlights tracked through the room. Herod’s servants, dressed as clowns, danced beside him. Caiaphas and Annas were string puppets. Hysterical laughter filled the room. Colorful stripes covered Herod’s kingly robe and banners waved from the ceiling. A faint smell of sulfur turned my stomach. I began to heave and wanted to run out of the room.
She was here.
As quickly as the strange vision began, it ended. Yeshua remained quiet, distant, and unfazed.
The Tetrarch demanded once more, “Show me a miracle,” but it was to no avail. Then Herod snapped his finger and ordered that the uncooperative guest be dressed in a royal robe.
An attendant placed an extravagant robe in the bloodied hands of Herod and the soldiers wasted no time wrapping the robe around Yeshua. The soldiers mocked the rabbi, played with him as if he were a toy. I watched from the back, feeling Yeshua’s humiliation, embarrassed by the soldiers’ carnal behavior.
Caiaphas and Annas and many members of the Sanhedrin watched with smug satisfaction. The baseness of their depravity astonished me. The High Priest and his father-in-law seemed like demonic puppets.
After the soldiers had had their fun and Herod had been sufficiently entertained, the Tetrarch ordered Yeshua to be sent back to Pilate, better dressed than when he arrived.
Time was quickly passing and the urgency to accomplish the task wore on the faces of Annas and Caiaphas. Exhausted, I lagged behind as the assembly hurried back to Pontius Pilate at the Antonia Fortress.
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