Johng Chapter 3
13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
It was a radical message. In that day and age when men toiled at the behest of the state, when they could be made slaves for as little as denying that Caesar was a God, when life was oft a mean existence and the Pharisees took all power and governed life through their pronunciations that which was left after the Roman state had its say, when the God of the Pharisees was an angry and vengeful God who demanded sacrifices of bulls and turtle doves, when bribes to the Pharisees could buy a man absolution for the worst of sins, a new messenger came.
In his works he ministered to the poor and the rejected, those that the Synagogue and its righteous leaders had already condemned on earth as worthless or not worth their time because their condition was proof that they were sinners and already condemned.
But Jesus was the first to promote egalitariansim in his messages and works. He healed the poor, the sick and the lame, giving them a message of hope in a life in the hereafter. Men of wealth he admonished to do good works because money could not buy righteousness nor forgiveness. Forgiveness was not bought, but given. The cost of which was simple and required no gold, but simply that a man believe.
Jesus taught that men and women were his brothers and sisters, they were all sons and daughters of God.
It is understood that the Age of Enlightenment was an age of discovery spurred by science and great literature, but this age could not have existed without this message being resurrected. The message of equality in the eyes of God. Equally loved and equally deserving of his forgiveness and love. It was a message that, like that of Jesus, was radically different than that given by the church which supported Royalty and Nobles as being the few ordained by divine right, by God, to rule and decide on the fate of men.
It was this message of equality of men that the forefathers of the United States used to determine that men should be free and had "unalienable rights" "endowed by their Creator". Eighty years later, it was this message which spurred the abolitionists and convinced Lincoln to emancipate the slaves and truly live up to the founding of the nation, that all men are equal in the eyes of God.
This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
-Letter to Henry L Pierce, 1862
The tyranny of slavery is the same tyranny of kings:
It is the eternal struggle between these two principles -- right and wrong -- throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, "You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it." No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle. October, 1858
It was the message of equality and forgiveness as taught by Jesus that spurred such men to fight and to determine that, in the final analysis, it was better that a whole nation perish than to not live by these principles, set forth by our founders and based on the teachings of Jesus and proof in his ministry to the poor, the lame and the sick, that all men are deserving and equal in the eyes of God:
The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether" Innaugural address 1864
These are the principles which all enlightened Christians should be embued. Not simply to "love one another" nor to mouth the words that purport all men to be equal and deserving of God's love, but to practice it. In practicing it, it does not mean that we accept that men in another nation who are oppressors and that others are slaves and that we find the nation and those who practice it to be equal to the idea of liberty and equality, but that we should endeavor as did Christ in his teachings to spread the message, even and most especially in the face of tyranny, that all men are equal in the eyes of God and deserving of his love, deserving of unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The chains created by injustice are cruel. Men who purport to be given the divine right by God to enslave men, to abuse them and use them in such ways as no man would want to have inflicted upon himself, are no better than Caesar in Rome or the Pharisees. Those who would say otherwise, that God gives them the power to tell a man whether he should pray, whom he should marry, that he is not worthy because of his color, his ethnicity or his religion, that a woman is less deserving than a man, are, in fact, false and we should not accept them or their creed.
In the final moments of Easter so long ago, the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Jesus appeared to his followers resurrected so that they would know the truth of his words and continue to minister as he wished, to spread the word. His resurrection, celebrated in the spring, is the symbol of hope for all men, a symbol of renewal.
Today, I pray for all of our men and women in harms way who may feel from time to time that this struggle we are in is never ending and wonder whether they toil in vane, that they receive this message of hope and renewal, that they may be renewed in their courage and their belief in a just cause. I pray that they find the message of Jesus, not only of forgiveness and love, not only the hope of the resurrection, but his message that all men are equal and deserving in the eyes of God.
I pray that those who have lost loved ones will remember the message of the resurrection, that there is life after death, that "who so ever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life." That they shall be comforted in the knowledge that, just as Jesus rose from the tomb and was seen again by his disciples as proof of his message, that they too will see their loved ones again. I pray that they also recall Jesus's message of love and forgiveness even for those who took away his life. That they recall his message in his ministry, that all men are created equal in the eyes of God, equally able to receive his blessings, love and forgiveness, and that for this message Jesus gave his life. His Father gave his only Son to perpetuate this message and his mother wept at His feet as he hung upon the cross. Yet, the truth of His love and His message remains 2000 years later, just as the memory of their loved ones will remain and their efforts be forever known by future generations.
I recall from Psalms, "sorrowful, yet rejoicing" and that is the message of Easter.
Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them,[a] came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it happened, as they were greatly[b] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. 5 Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead??
Rejoice, Jesus is resurrected and lives.