ON THE WAY INTO THE KINGDOM (PART II)

InnocentBy Innocent, Bishop of Kamchatka (1833)  “Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven”

CHAPTER 2 “How Jesus Christ Lived on Earth, and What He Suffered for Us”

Everyone must obey the law of God. That law is contained in two commandments: (1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and (2) love your neighbor as yourself.

According to how you fulfill this law, you will receive rewards. But there is no one, and never has been, and never will be a man who could fulfill these two commandments perfectly. Only Jesus Christ fulfilled them perfectly and without any deficiency.

In this respect all the saints, and even the greatest saints, are only like lamps, whereas Jesus Christ is like the sun in all its brilliance and splendor.

And just as it is impossible for a human being to gaze at the sun and describe it, so it is impossible to describe all the virtuous works (deeds) of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I shall tell you only briefly about His life and virtues, and only what can be seen from the Gospel.

No human being and even no angel loved God so much as Jesus Christ loved and loves Him.

Jesus Christ always prayed to God His Father, and especially He often prayed at night and in solitude.

On every feast, especially at the Passover, Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem, which was not near the place where He lived. Every Sabbath He went to the place where the people gathered for prayer and instruction.

In all His works, Jesus Christ always glorified the name of God, and both in secret and in public gave praise to God.

All through His life Jesus Christ truly respected, obeyed, honored, and loved His Mother and Joseph His foster father and even respected the leaders and elders and paid tribute to the earthly emperor.

Jesus Christ carried out the service and work for which He came into the world fully willing, acquiescent, and conscientious—with all fervor and love.

Jesus Christ loved everyone, wished everyone well, and did good to all, and, for the true happiness of men, He did not spare His life.

Jesus Christ bore every kind of offense or insult with unspeakable meekness and love; He did not complain about His offenders, and even did not get angry with His most open enemies who slandered Him, mocked Him, and wanted to kill Him. He could have killed and destroyed with one word all His enemies and opponents, but He did not want to do that. On the contrary, He wished them all good, did good to them, prayed for them, and wept over their perdition.

To speak briefly, from His birth until His very death, Jesus Christ did not commit the smallest sin, either in word, or deed, or thought; but He did all kinds of good at all times and to all people.

Now let us look and see how Jesus Christ suffered for us here on earth. Being the Son of God and Himself God, Jesus Christ took upon Himself the body and soul of a man, and became a perfect man, without sin. Being almighty, He took the form of a slave. Being King of heaven and earth, He was born in poverty of a poor mother, in a cave, and was laid in a manger. His foster father was a poor carpenter.

Jesus Christ, the Supreme Lawgiver, to fulfill what the law required, on the eighth day after His birth shed His most precious blood through circumcision. After that, His Most-Pure Mother took Him into the temple and for Him, the Redeemer of the world, paid the redemption. While Jesus Christ was still in His cradle, Herod tried to kill Him, and He fled into Egypt, a foreign country.

But do not think that Jesus Christ in His infancy could not understand what was done and what happened to Him. No! Although Jesus Christ is perfect man, yet at the same time He is also perfect God, and therefore He saw and knew everything that was done to Him.

Jesus Christ, being God and the Almighty Whom heaven and earth and myriads of angels obey, Himself throughout His earthly life obeyed His Mother Who is His Own creation.

Jesus Christ, Who has in His right hand all the treasures of the worlds, during His earthly life had no place on earth to lay His head.

Jesus Christ, the King of the whole universe, paid tribute to an earthly king.

Jesus Christ, Whom all angels and all creatures serve, Himself served men and washed the feet of His disciples who were chosen from the most uneducated and simplest of the people.

Jesus Christ suffered during His preaching a countless multitude of insults of every kind from His enemies. They called Him a sinner and a transgressor of the law of Moses, and an idle fellow, and a carpenter’s son, and a friend and comrade of gluttons, wine drinkers, and tax collectors. At one time, the malice and fury of His enemies reached such a pitch that they wanted to throw Him down a mountain. On another occasion they wanted to stone Him to death. They called His most holy teaching lies and deception. When He healed the sick or raised the dead His enemies said that He did all that with the help of Satan and suggested to the people that even He Himself had a demon in Him.

In short, from His birth till His very death Jesus Christ suffered and saw sorrows and outrages on all sides. He suffered both from men and for men. He was grieved not only because people would not listen to Him and offended Him, but also because they were perishing and were unwilling to be saved from their perdition. Jesus Christ suffered, so to speak, both visibly and invisibly, because He saw and endured not only open insults and outrages from men, but at the same time He saw the secret evil thoughts and intentions of His enemies, and He saw that the very people who apparently loved and listened to Him either did not believe in Him or were indifferent to their salvation.

From whom did Jesus Christ suffer most? From the Jewish chief priests and from the scribes, that is, from the learned and from their chiefs who knew and expected the Savior’s coming to them but were unwilling to receive Jesus Christ or listen to Him, but on the contrary, delivered Him to death as if He were a deceiver and lawbreaker; and when the Jewish people were ready to deliver Jesus from crucifixion, they (the priests and scribes) incited them to ask rather for the robber and rebel Barabbas, and to deliver Jesus, Who is holier than all saints, to death. To what lengths can the envy and malice of men go! But what is most horrible, Jesus Christ was betrayed by a man who was His disciple, who knew Him, who had eaten and drunk with Him, and had seen with his own eyes His life, His miracles, and the power of His teaching. And how was He betrayed? By treachery and by a kiss. And for what price? For thirty pieces of silver.

For whom did Jesus Christ suffer? For all sinners, from Adam till the end of the world. He suffered also for those very men who tortured Him, and for His enemies who had delivered Him to that torture, and for those who, having received from Him countless benefits, not only did not thank Him but even hated and persecuted Him. He also suffered for all of us who offend Him daily by our untruths, wickedness, and terrible indifference to His sufferings for us who, by our ingratitude and abominable sins, as it were, crucify Him a second time.

Toward the end of His earthly life Jesus Christ worked one of the greatest miracles, that is, He raised Lazarus who had already been four days in the grave and had begun to decompose. This miracle, which was worked in the presence of a great crowd of people, persuaded many to believe in Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him as the Messenger of God. But instead of accepting Jesus Christ and believing in Him and assuring others that He is the true Savior of the world, the Jewish chief priests and scribes gathered round Caiaphas and took counsel concerning what to do with Jesus, and they tried to find accusations against Him; and finally they decided to deliver to death Jesus Christ Who raised the dead.

But how Jesus Christ suffered on the last night, that is, after the Last Supper until His delivery into the hands of the soldiers, it is impossible for us even to imagine. His inner sufferings at that time were so great and terrible that only Jesus Christ could bear them. In Gethsemane, He sweated blood.

At that time, His soul felt cruel agony, great sorrow, and terrible suffering. His soul was covered with shame and horror at our sins which He took upon Himself, for all the sins of men committed from Adam till that time, and for the sins that will be committed till the end of the world.

Then Jesus Christ saw that even among Christians themselves there will soon appear hypocritical disciples such as Judas and that many of them not only will not imitate Him, but will give way to vices and vile and abominable sins, and even many will appear who will renounce faith itself and His teaching, or will distort them by false explanations and, instead of surrendering themselves to the wisdom of God, will themselves want to guide others according to their own ideas.

On the one hand, love for God His Father required Him to destroy the human race as ungrateful criminals, whereas on the other love for fallen and perishing men urged Him to suffer for them and by His suffering to deliver them from eternal perdition.

These sufferings were so great and grievous for Jesus Christ that He said to His disciples, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matt 26:38; Mark 14:34).

After that, they bound Jesus Christ as if He were an evildoer and led Him away to His enemies who judged Him and condemned Him to death. The apostles, whom He had especially loved above all, forsook Him and fled. To Pilate’s question, “Whom shall I release, Barabbas or Christ?” His jealous and malicious enemies incited the senseless people to ask for Barabbas the robber and to crucify Jesus the Just and Holy One. And so they delivered Him into the hands of the heathen who tortured Him, scourged Him, spat on Him, mocked Him, put on His head a crown of thorns, took His clothes off, nailed Him to a cross and crucified Him between two robbers and in a shameful place, as if He were a great malefactor and criminal. Their cruel malice and envy did not spare Him even on the cross, for even there they derided Him as a deceiver, and to quench His thirst they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink.

And at last Jesus Christ dies, and He dies by death on a cross, that is, by a painful and shameful death.

Do not think that Jesus Christ suffered because He could not have escaped or avoided the tortures. No! He gave Himself up by His own will and offered Himself as a sacrifice; otherwise no one would have dared even to think of touching Him, for you know that when those who had been sent for Him came to take Him, He asked them, “‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, “I am He’” (John 18:5–7). And at that one word, they all fell to the ground.

This is all we can say of the sufferings of Jesus Christ—that He endured for us out of His unspeakable love for us. In order to realize, as far as possible, how great is His love for us and to understand the greatness of His sacrifice, we must remember Whom Jesus Christ is. Jesus Christ is true God, the almighty Creator of the whole universe, the great King of angels and men, the powerful Lord of all creatures, the awful Judge of the living and the dead. This same Jesus Christ willed to suffer for mankind.


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