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The punishment for desertion in the Roman army, as in many, was death. Leaving one’s post would have had a penalty, probably lesser, but painful enough: reduction in rank, extra duties. If it was politically expedient the unit could be disbanded (and its pensions with it). The Army of Christ’s time was imperial, and was not as harsh as the Republican one. Nor as Roman. It is not surprising that the Council decided to interfere with discipline.

If you don’t believe this happens today, then I have to ask why Bradley Manning did not face the penalty for which he was convicted: why the US military allowed Chelsea to pupate, and why they, like the Roman centurions, are now brittle and corrupt.

For they were called on this: the political rendition of Christ to the pagans, those outside the law, for his execution, the collective damnation of the Messiah, and their ignorance of the prophecies and the law.

The first sermon preached by the new church was not gentle. It was blood, fire and damnation. For we have to give up our pride, forswear our lies,  to see our need for salvation.

Acts 2:22-36

22“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know – 23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. 28You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29“Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’ 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. 34For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘ 36Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Matthew 28:11-20

11While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. 12After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The first message was to the Jews, true. The had the prophets and apostles and they knew the law. They had thought that they could assuage any guilt in getting rid of their politically unacceptable by ensuring the Romans punished them: they were outside the law and therefore they were convenient scapegoats who did not count.

But Peter says that this did not remove their guilt. It was they who gave Christ to the secular authorities, and the Jews did the same to the Apostles until the Romans caught the habit. We cannot delegate our guilt: rendition does not clean our hands.

But Christ did not come for the Jews. He came for all nations. Even the Maori in the Antipodes. When a people hear the gospel for the first time it is indeed good news, and they turn: in this the Irish, Scots, Germans, Saxons Vikings and Maori are one. It is when our church corrupts and becomes a source of regulation, religion and corruption that people turn away.

Which puts those apostate in the place of the Jewish Council. They have, again, killed Christ. They instead worship the bloody progressive rainbow that killed millions last century and is winding up for more pogroms now.

They need to stop.

And we should not be like them.

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