Sunday, 24 April 2011

Resurrection - Rebirth and Symbolism

Post by Ian

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:22-23

Easter, a time of rebirth and the time of the resurrection of Jesus. The passion narrative is depicted in all four gospels, consisting of the entry in to Jerusalem at the end of Jesus' ministry and his subsequent death by crucifixion. This is followed by the narrative of his resurrection and the meeting with his disciples in Galilee.

The earliest gospel account is that of Mark (65-75AD). In this account, three women followers of Jesus go to the tomb where his body has been laid to find the tomb empty. They are told by a young man that Jesus of Nazareth had been raised and had gone before them to Galilee. There, in the oldest and most authoritative texts, the account ends - with the women fleeing from the tomb (Mark 16:8). For Mark, the redemptive message is not in the resurrection of Jesus but in his suffering and death. The resurrected Jesus shows that the message he taught will continue - through his disciples and followers. Indeed it did, with James the Just taking up his brother's mantle and the continuation of the Jesus movement in Jerusalem until the fall of the city in the Jewish Revolt (70AD).

Matthew (70-80AD) expands this further, having the disciples meeting with Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus instructs them to go and teach, as he had taught them. Luke (80-90AD) further expands the post-resurrection narrative, but keeps the action in Jerusalem and the surrounds. In Luke, we have the account of Jesus joining two of his followers on the walk to Emmaus. John (90-120AD) again expands the narrative, taking two chapters in his book instead of the single resurrection chapter in the other gospel texts. In John's account we have the story of doubting Thomas.

The resurrection of Jesus is, I've learnt, a difficult subject among Unitarians. I believe in the resurrection, in terms of a spiritual rebirth, and in the imagery and symbolism surrounding it. At this time of Easter, we should celebrate the cycle of rebirth and embrace our Christian heritage. Jesus died as an example to us all and showed us a path to God. I believe that Jesus took the position of sacrifice, negating the need to sacrifice at the temple for redemption. In essence, he became our high priest (Hebrews 5) and the prime example of a life of righteousness in God's eyes. We follow this example, as best as we are able, and ask for God's forbearance and mercy when we are unable to do so. We petition our deity directly, rather than asking for the intercession of a priestly class.

1 comment:

  1. The events of Easter remain a subject of speculation.
    If Jesus was 'wholly man' as many believe, he could not have been dead when taken from the cross.

    There are known examples of people being in a coma which is akin to death.

    The crowning event in the 'Book of Morman' is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites of America soon after his resurrection.

    It is claimed by the Mormans that their book was translated from a set of gold plates which subsequently became lost. It is interesting to note that there has been a set of inscribed metal plates recently discovered in the Middle East !! They could turn out to be of more importance than the Dead Sea Scrolls.
    Perhaps the final truth of Easter will at some stage be revealed.