This Easter season, we're revisiting a blog that we wrote a few years back, inspired by an article called: Jesus' Resurrection: What Really Happened by Jay Parini. Below, you can read the updated blog, but here are a few excerpts from the article:
"Easter morning arrived with a holy hush, the day after the Sabbath, with little fanfare. The gospels pass over the Resurrection, and we never actually see Jesus waken, rub his eyes, stand and stretch. We don’t even see the rock that sealed the tomb actually rolled away. The joyous resurrection of Jesus happens off-stage, as it were. The first inkling of change occurred when some of the women close to Jesus came to visit his tomb. The gospel narratives vary on who turned up in the garden first: Mary Magdalene alone or with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with Salome (Mary’s sister or the mother of James and John). In John, the story plays out in suspenseful detail as Mary Magdalene visited the tomb by herself to mourn. To her amazement, she found the stone removed. In panic, she ran to tell Peter and another (unnamed) disciple, who hurried back to the tomb and discovered it empty, much to their distress and confusion. They assumed that someone had stolen the body. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene sat outside the tomb by herself, crying softly. She could hardly believe the things that had happened in the past few days, and the missing body of Jesus was really too much to bear.
"Huge questions confront anyone thinking about Jesus. Did he really rise from the dead? Was there an actual Resurrection? If so, what would that look like? A large number of Christians throughout history have imagined a resuscitation, refusing to countenance the slightest hint that the Resurrection should be regarded as something beyond human understanding. I myself would argue this: life and death are mysterious, at best, and the membrane between the living and the dead is a porous one, perilously thin. Jesus rose from the dead, the scriptures say. I see no reason to doubt this. And yet a literalistic belief in the Resurrection cannot be, as many fundamentalist churches insist, the only important part of the “good news” of Christianity. The message of God’s love in operation in the world trumps everything and must be regarded as the necessary extension of the idea of rebirth, the social basis for true spiritual enlightenment. Nowhere more so than here does it matter that we find a proper balance between the literal and the figurative, giving full weight to the concrete meaning while relishing the mythic contours of the story.
"The fundamentalist view of the cross, with its emphasis on the sacrificial or “substitutionary” aspect of the Crucifixion, evolved in the Middle Ages and solidified with Martin Luther’s insistence on the single, simple, and stable meaning of scripture; the text of the Bible itself became a mighty fortress that resists symbolic interpretations. (I would note that early in his career Luther was much more amenable to symbolic readings of scriptural passages.) To many, the idea of Christ as sacrificial lamb becomes the whole of the Christian message, to the disparagement of every other reading, leading to an exclusionary view of salvation. Yet the apostle Paul himself warned early Christians in his second letter to Corinth that to become an able minister of the new covenant one should not read the scriptures in ways that undercut their fullest meanings, “for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (II Corinthians 3:6)."
Click to read the whole article.
This article is quite lengthy, but well worth the read. The passages above are the passages that I wish to expand upon in this blog.
Looking for the Human Jesus
It is a quite beautiful account of the resurrection of Jesus, written by a man who is focused on looking for the human side of Jesus - an endeavor that is every bit as satisfying as simply accepting Jesus as the divine Son of God. He was, of course, both - son of man and Son of God. However, owing to the scarcity of information that we were left with in the Bible, much thought, reflection and imagination has to be undertaken to wrap one's mind around this amazing event. As the author says,
"The gospels pass over the Resurrection, and we never actually see Jesus waken, rub his eyes, stand and stretch. We don’t even see the rock that sealed the tomb actually rolled away. The joyous resurrection of Jesus happens off-stage, as it were."
And of course, he's right. Nevertheless, Christians and others who want to know about this event have only had these scanty Biblical accounts which say virtually nothing about the resurrection except after the fact. Even so, it is a testament to the power of the Scriptures that for these past 20 centuries, just these accounts have been sufficient to inspire generations of believers.
Now comes the 21st century, and still people are yearning to know more about Jesus. The internet is full of his name, book after book is written, exploring the different facets of his life and teachings...and his death and resurrection, as this article (excerpted from yet another book) does.
A Complete Record Was Kept
What if I told you that the every second of the resurrection was recorded by the angels; every question you may have had about it, answered; every niggling doubt you may have harbored, resolved?
Well, it's true. Part IV of The Urantia Book contains the entire life of Jesus, including every detail from his crucifixion, his resurrection, and his subsequent resurrection appearances. The Urantia Book account is indeed a center-stage presentation.
Rather than try to tell you what it says, I want to give you some links to The Urantia Book story, so that you can read these details for yourself, and come to your own conclusions whether it is a more satisfying and illuminating account than you have ever read. I am referencing the same events that are covered in the article above:
(NOTE: The Urantia Book authors use a term: "Morontia," which is a tern designation a state of existence midway between the material and the spiritual.)
Get Started Here
Please see: the whole of Paper 188 The Time of the Tomb, which also includes The Burial of Jesus
Paper 189 deals with The Resurrection, and includes the details of the disposition of Jesus' material body, as well as Jesus' first appearance - to Mary Magdalene, and why he was not at first recognizable to her and the others.
The Urantia Book tells us that Jesus appeared to nearly 1000 people, in nineteen separate appearances, between the time of his death and the time of his resurrection, on Thursday, May 18, 30, A.D. The following links will take you to all of them
Paper 192, and
Finally, the author of the article above states:
"To many, the idea of Christ as sacrificial lamb becomes the whole of the Christian message, to the disparagement of every other reading, leading to an exclusionary view of salvation."
This is a profound observation. And in The Urantia Book, we are given two additional amazing "other readings" - treatises that give all believers a greatly expanded view of the meanings behind these world-changing events.
Two "Other Readings" - Must Reads!
Please see: The Meaning of the Death on the Cross and, Lessons from the Cross
Everyone who loves Jesus can be grateful for the Bible and its accounts of Jesus' life in the gospels. Doesn't it always make you want to know even more? We all know that there are many details not covered in the Bible; but now, we have been given this amazing restatement of Jesus' life that is Part IV of The Urantia Book. It is a greatly expanded view of this God/man who we all love so dearly - a new way to look at him and his life - a new and inspiring re-telling of his matchless life and teachings for the minds of modern truthseekers.
Please have a look. Compare and prayerfully reflect...maybe you'll find some new insights, some new inspirations, some new validation that Jesus truly was ( and still is) the greatest human being ever to have lived. And his story really is the greatest story ever told