2 Maccabees 6:18-31 – A man named Eleazar, an elderly man who is “one of the foremost teachers of the Law” (6:18) goes to an event at which he is compelled to eat “pig’s flesh.” He chooses to go “to the block” rather than submit to this desecration of Jewish Law. There are people at the event who respect him and try to save him by getting him to “pretend” to eat it (6:21). Instead, he “publicly state[s] his convictions” (6:23), fearing that the young might be misled by his appearing to break the law. So he dies, “leaving his death as an example of nobility and a record of virtue not only for the young but for the great majority of the nation” *(6:31)
A Jerusalem Bible footnote comments that Eleazar was a hero to the early Christian church as well – a pre-Christian martyr.
Dedication to the disciple of self-denial and attention to the Spirit of Christ brought results for early Friends. It transformed individual lives and it transformed the Christian life of the whole community of Quaker believers. People testified that they felt in themselves palpably passing from death to life, from spiritual bondage to Christian freedom, a resurrection of the “first Adam”. Early Friends firmly believed that a life lived in the power of God’s spirit did not have to remain fallen and unredeemed.
“Christ, the second Adam is come, that the dead in the first Adam might have Life, might be quickened and might be awakened to Righteousness. . . . And so, he invites all Adam’s posterity to come to him, that all through him might believe, come to the Light . . . to Life, and . . . up into Peace and rest. . . .” (Fox, Letters, 95-96).
This is what I felt too—profound love and the sense of being at the beginning of a journey into the depths of something utterly endless and boundless and good.