Jesus is dead, I said in my Easter Sunday blog post. I believe in natural laws, I said.
Seas don’t part with the wave of a stick even if your name is Moses. The sun doesn’t stand still even if your name is Joshua. And dead bodies don’t resurrect even if your name is Jesus.
Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. Period.
A reader disagreed.
God created natural laws. God can override them, he said. God created the world out of nothing. God can easily resurrect a corpse. After all, with God all things are possible.
Well, if that’s the case, I replied, can God make a stone so heavy that God can’t lift it? If God can’t make such a stone, or if God can make such a stone, but not lift it, then with God all things are not possible.
Now that’s a real brain teaser, a conundrum, and perhaps a Zen Buddhist koan. But it’s also sophomoric. (Sorry, I was a philosophy major!)
My retort may sound sophisticated, but it’s really sophistic. And it’s a red herring. The real questions are: Did Jesus’s body resurrect, and is that body somewhere out there waiting to return to earth?
I don’t believe Jesus arose from the dead. But I believe something did arise in the wake of his death.
A story arose. A story of love. No doubt about that. You can read it in the gospels. You can hear it in a thousand songs.
I love to tell the story of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
And when you hear that hymn sung in a Black church and see tears streaming down faces, you know that story’s true, despite the lack of empirical evidence.
It satisfies my longing like nothing else can do.
It’s a story of courage.
Love one another as I have loved you. Love your enemies even if it kills you.
It’s a story of hope.
Love never dies. It may be beaten down, but it always gets back up.
In the wake of Jesus’s death a body arose, a body of people. No doubt about that. It welcomed all, fed the hungry, healed the sick, clothed the naked, and practiced nonviolent resistance to evil.
And then something happened.
It was coopted.
Still, that story of love lives on in the hearts of many.
And in many a song.
See Paula’s photo “Bluebell Forest” on the home page. Posted April 18
Well, I think this is the first time I’ve ever disagreed with you!
The highly evolved yogis of India were able to pass from this world to the next and back again with ease, as described in “The Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, paperback edition, 1946, p. 354 (11th edition, 1988), asterisked footnote.
I believe in the resurrection.
Of course, as you intimate, when all is said and done, what matters is how alive love is in our human hearts. Matthew Fox compares the risen appearances of Jesus to mystical awakenings that spurred people on to greater heights of energetic witnessing.
Great! It’s all in the tale.
Again, I am catapulted into remembrances of my childhood singing at church & Sunday school. “I love to tell the story…‘twill be my theme in glory…of Jesus & his love”. And Jesus loves me, this I know… songs and themes that resonate in my soul ‘til today. Jesus is alive in my soul, and that’s what matters to me. Thank you
Well stated, Doc! Thanks for the Kristofferson tune. It was a good way to start a sunny, but cool Sunday morning, while Spring blooms anew.
Yogananda was indeed an inspired yogi who spread a lot of peace, love, and happiness throughout this battered, old world. He could also meditate and suspend his breath to the point of giving himself a blue tinge. (Nice trick.) Nonetheless, he died when a heart attack killed him while delivering a lecture. He was simply a mortal with a good message: Don’t live your life as if you hold guarantee papers in your hand; be here now; do your good deeds while you can; make this mortal coil just a tiny bit better than how you found it.
This is pretty much it. Thank you.
Any story of love, hope, and courage is my type of story. My favorite Easter song that comes to mind every year is “He Arose”. Whether He did or not, it keeps my faith alive! Thanks!
Your message today is THE message I have taken away from a lifetime — and as many morphings — of deep investigation into one of my favorite teachers, Jesus. Your responsive reader’s contentions about God and “all things possible” made me a bit sad for him and others who think like him. The “coopting” provided adults with a powerful rationale for magical thinking. Time to put away childish things… and get to the really challenging work: modeling how Jesus lived, without concern for whether or not he literally resurrected. I think most readers know that “the big bang” has been scientifically reproduced by the Hadron collider in Cerne. This in no way obviates a deep spiritual or even mystical life, but it does rather tank magical thinking.
Thank you for your take on the resurrection of Jesus and for Kristofferson’s “Jesus Was a Capricorn.” The Autobiography of a Yogi – I’ve read that book two times and so long ago, it seems like another lifetime, so far away from today. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the only thread, the only glue that keeps us together; the more practice of that commandment, the more chance we have to rise up, like a good loaf of bread and feed ourselves and the world.