As we approach another Easter season, the impact of its message began to dawn on me. This dawning led to several questions: What is the resurrection that Christians celebrate each year? Are they sharing in it today or was it a one time deal? Have we carried the cross during the rest of the year? Why did Jesus have to go through this ordeal? What purpose has it served? These questions give motivation to thought and impulse to action. Each one leads to a higher elevation of thought which culminates in spiritual understanding. This understanding however, cannot come unless one grasps the meaning of the term resurrection.
The word resurrection means the act of raising someone from the dead. Its first known use was in the 14th century, and has its origin in the Middle English word resurreccion and the Late Latin word resurrection. Webster defines it as ” the rising of Jesus from the dead after his death and burial.” Wikipedia states: “The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian belief that Jesus Christ miraculously returned to life on the Sunday following the Friday on which he was executed by crucifixion. It is the central tenet of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_Jesus). This article will focus on a meaning supported by the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy: “Resurrection. Spiritualization of thought; a new and higher idea of immortality, or spiritual existence; material belief yielding to spiritual understanding” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 593).
As I review readings about the resurrection, its meaning reaches a new level of thought–thought reaching far beyond a physical body being able to walk and talk after being dead for three days, but thought that symbolizes the true meaning of life–Life as God. The message that Jesus wanted the world to grasp is that life is not defined by breath in a body, but by a person’s ability to understand and demonstrate the laws of God. It was a message not only to the chief priests of his time, but for mankind today–a message that emphasizes life as resting in his teachings–teachings that show sin, sickness and death as beliefs of the human mind, and not a reflection of the divine Mind. In many instances before he healed people, he urged them to “believe.” He wanted them to believe that if the senses spoke blindness, believe perfect vision; if the senses revealed death, take hold of life; and if the physical ears heard deafness, grasp spiritual discernment.
Resurrection, then, becomes lifting thinking, not lifting a body. The people who lived during the time of Jesus believed the same mortal suggestions that we believe today–that all reality is defined by bodily conditions and sensual expressions. Neither is really true. All truth comes from God, who is Truth. The spiritual fan that Jesus used to sweep away the evils of the world, was and is a separator of fact from fable, good from evil and life from death. He revealed that the pathway out of worldly lusts and beliefs is inconceivable through the senses, but dwells within the spiritual realm of thought.
What Some Church Leaders Say About the Resurrection
Joyce Meyer“The miraculous lesson of Easter is that through Jesus’ death on the Cross, we have been granted a second chance—permission to leave our old lives behind and stand before the pristine, unmarred canvas of a new day, with all its potential for joy and choices that honor God” (http://joycemeyer.org).
” While Jesus’ death shows the depths of his love for humanity, it is his Resurrection that proves he is the Son of God,” Pope Benedict XVI said (http://www.americancatholic.org/News/Easter2008/resurrection.asp).
Joel Osteen gives thanks for Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the abundant life that is available to anyone
who believes in him ( http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1195221/joel_osteen_does_joel_believe_in_the_resurrection/).
What is the resurrection that Christians share today?
Many Christians share the belief that because Jesus died on the cross, they are saved from sin and will experience eternal life in the hereafter. Some say, “He paid for our sins, so that we don’t have to.” Such a view, unless coupled with a deeper understanding of God as Life and man as the expression of Life, can easily be misunderstood, and lead mankind into thinking that he has little or nothing to do but believe Jesus died for his sins, join the church, and he has a seat at the right hand of God. The kingdom of harmony is within in each one of us, but it must also be demonstrated by each one of us. Jesus has and never will do it for us. We must travel the same pathway of redemption that he did. That is what “working out your own salvation” is all about. Every knee must bow in humility to truth and love, and every tongue must confess and live the righteousness of divine law, either here or hereafter. There is no other way.
The resurrection that we share today, is the same one that Jesus’ disciples discovered when they realized his physical life was restored after the crucifixion–a realization that life was never in the physical body, but because men would not believe that to be so, Jesus had to deal with them at a level they could understand–physicality. Thus, he showed the same tortured body they had seen on the cross. The only difference was, the body walked through closed doors, talked with them about life and truth as it had before death, and mentally lifted them above sensuality. It was through these human experiences that they began to understand life as not in matter, but consists of the spiritual thoughts, words and actions one demonstrates. That must also be our resurrection if we are to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Why did Jesus have to go through such an ordeal?
Such an ordeal was necessary for mankind to grasp the understanding that the man God created is not made of flesh, blood and bones, but spiritual ideas–ideas that soar above sensuality, physicality and materiality. Mortality cannot define immortality, nor can the human reach the divine. These can only be achieved by letting go of one and holding on to the other.
What does it mean to carry the same cross that was carried by Jesus?
The cross symbolizes the suffering every mortal must experience before he reaches immortality. It comes from mortal man’s clinging to the lusts and desires for that which is evil. Evil is described in the Bible as devil or Satan–that which entices one to hate his neighbor, lie in the face of truth and steal from the mouth of babes. Key symbols that make evil seem worthwhile, are money, power and selfishness. Revenge is another evil that causes mankind to labor. It tells us that “getting back at someone” who has hurt us, is deserving, acceptable and a symbol of strength. Ridding oneself of such suggestions is a mighty struggle!
Carrying the cross means “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you,” forgiving when it seems impossible and loving unconditionally. Most of us will never carry a wooden cross up the hill of Calvary, but we will be tempted to carry hate, fear, bitterness, resentment and pain in our hearts. Jesus was crucified because he taught mankind how to overcome sin, sickness and death. His method of teaching was in direct opposition to the laws of Pilate and the sermons of the chief priests. He taught and lived far above the meager expressions of divine law advocated by the priests and they hated him for it.
Many of us are crucified when we teach and live goodness, mercy, justice, equality, lawfulness and brotherly love. Are you able to carry the cross or will you put it down and walk away?
Mary Baker Eddy reminds us just how difficult carrying the same cross of Jesus really is when she says:
“If you launch your bark upon the ever-agitated but healthful waters of truth, you will encounter storms. Your good will be evil spoken of. This is the cross. Take it up and bear it, for through it you win and wear the crown. Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger, thou art the guest of God” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p, 254).
This article is about discovering, recognizing and demonstrating a new resurrection–a resurrection not of the physical body but of thinking–thinking far above false beliefs and blind understanding. It sets affections above hate, lust, greed, selfishness and any other belief or act that keeps thought mired in the dust of sin, sickness and death. The kingdom of heaven that caused the heart of Jesus to beat with faith, hope and peace lives in each one of us. Jesus’ message was just that! He taught us with his words and actions how to clothe ourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. What kind of garment are you wearing? Put on the “robe of righteousness” and share in his resurrection.