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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Sorrowful Mysteries and The Old Testament

The Rosary is one of the best prayers to be prayed because it is ultimately a meditation on the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Something that we also need to keep in mind is that the life of our Lord was foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Let's see how some of the events of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are prefigured in the Old Testament.

We begin with the Agony in the Garden. Jesus became a man because of events that began in a garden, ultimately the Garden of Eden. God became man to atone for the sins committed in the Garden of Eden, so how fitting it is that Jesus begin His holy suffering there.

This also is a recapitulation of when King David was being chased by his son Absalom, and he also went to the same place where Jesus would be 1000 years later. This happens in 2 Samuel 15. There David desired the same thing that Jesus desired and that was the repentance of his son.

The Scourging at the Pillar is prophesied about in Isaiah.

Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.

The Crowning of Thorns is found in Genesis. Again this takes us back to the Garden of Eden where Adam, due to his sin, is punished.

Genesis 3:17-18 cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you;

Both Adam and Jesus were kings. Adam begins in glory and falls into disgrace, while Jesus takes this crown of disgrace (crown of thorns) and transforms it into a crown of glory.

Something else from the Old Testament is when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. God stops Abraham from killing his son and then this happens:

Genesis 22:13-14 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."

Now that mountain where Abraham was sacrificing Isaac was Mt. Moriah, which is where both Jerusalem and Golgatha reside. So when Abraham, even after he has made the sacrifice of this ram with its head caught in thorns, calls the place "God will provide," this is fulfilled in the sacrifice of God's only son, Jesus.

In this same event with Abraham and Isaac we see the carrying of the cross as well.

Certainly we do, on the very day that Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, these are the events that took place before that:

Genesis 22:3-6 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son;

So, by laying the wood on his son to carry up the mountain, this certain prefigures Jesus carrying his cross.

Finally, we find where the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord is prefigured in the Old Testament.

Well, we have discussed the Cross and the Old Testament, but I will point out two forshadowings. This first is a connection that Jesus Himself makes.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up,

Here is the story from Numbers:
Numbers 21:5-9 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food." Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it on a pole; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

It's as if Jesus is saying, if anyone has been rebellious and has been bitten by the serpents, they should look at this image of a serpent, that can't hurt you because it is just made out of bronze, and you will be healed. The same is true with Jesus. The Father says, so to speak, whoever has been bitten by the devil and has come into sin should look upon the man on the Cross, though while it looks like he has sinned as well, is in fact innocent, and you will be healed.

I also believe that the death of Samson prefigures the death of our Lord. If you recall, Samson is the strong man of the Old Testament and killed a bunch of Philistines with the jaw bone of a donkey.

Eventually he is caught by the Philistines, blinded, and then during a party where they bring him out to make sport of him. And then:

Judges 16:27-30 Now the house was full of men and women, and all the lords of the Philistines were there.
And about 3,000 men and women were on the roof looking on while Samson was amusing them. Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time,
O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes."
And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them,
the one with his right hand and the other with his left.
And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!"
And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.

I think this points to the Cross because it is with outstretched arms that Samson destroys the enemy of his people.

Hebrews 2:14-15 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, Jesus himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.

So through the death of Samson and Jesus, they destroy the enemy of their people. Samson with his outstretched arms destroys the Philistines, Jesus destroys death.

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