The other day I’m taking a walk with my former pastor religious buddy/unofficial counselor and he tells me he was praying for me at Easter and asks me what Easter meant to me this year. Wow. Interesting question. I’m not sure he really wants to hear my answer. Where do I begin? He’s staunchly Christian, totally committed to the idea that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection are what allows anyone to be saved. No Jesus, no resurrection, no salvation. How do I tell him the celebration if this particular holiday just isn’t that big a deal to me anymore?
The way to tell him is just to tell him. I explain to him that Jesus is still a central figure in my life, that I believe the Bible is inspired, and that I sense the importance of Jesus in the history of mankind. However, my faith is not founded on the idea that Jesus physically rose from the grave. Our church teaches Christmas and Easter stories as metaphysical narratives. Whether they physically happened that way or not, they are things that play out in each of our lives on a continual basis. The Birth of Christ consciousness at Christmas. Rebirth at Easter. I have learned to take much of the Bible as allegory, as I believe it was meant to be. Noah didn’t pack animals two by two onto an ark. There were no talking snakes in the garden. And, Jesus might or might not have physically gotten up and walked around after being murdered. Certainly, the disciples believed something magical happened because they were changed men after that event. There were many messiahs who came and went. When they died, their movements died with them. I know Jesus was resurrected, as we are all resurrected at the moment of “death”. Bodily resurrection isn’t even on my radar anymore. As Paul said, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”. However, if they found Jesus’ body tomorrow, it wouldn’t change my faith one bit. To my surprise, my friend says “Oh, it would certainly change my faith.” I fill in the blank in my head. “Of course it would. Your faith is founded on the idea that God proved Himself by raising Jesus’ physical body from the dead. No resurrection of Jesus’ body, no proof that God can or will raise any of us.”
Most of the people I know don’t base our faith anymore on the need for Jesus’ blood to save us or the idea that God had to do this demonstration to prove He could. Since that is so central to Christianity, I think what I’ve realized is that maybe I’ve allowed Jesus’ importance to slip away a bit.
A couple of days later, maybe prompted by this conversation, I remember a documentary my friend Mark Pitstick let me borrow months ago. “Jesus In India” is the name of the movie.
As I’m reading in bed, the series of books The Team, I come across the notion that Jesus is the League leader for this world. According to these books, we are all on teams (like soul groups) and the teams are organized into Leagues. There are many worlds.
This morning, I wake up at 3:16 am. I know because I look at the clock and I think John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son.”. Interesting. Today, I’m going to watch the movie.
The movie lays out the case for Jesus’ lost years, at least some of them, having been spent in India. the Bible is amazingly sketchy on the life of Jesus. In the book of Luke, He was born. Then, he was 12 and in the temple teaching. Then, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” and suddenly He was 30. Woah! Hold on a minute Luke. What the heck was Jesus doing from the ages of 13-30? OK, you skipped the years He was running around playing with the other kids. But, what did He do doing these critical years of His life? The Bible is completely silent.
Some say Jesus traveled to India. And, if you go to India, there are people there who claim to have documents and stories of Jesus’ time there. Christians believe Jesus had to die on the cross to be a sacrifice. Muslims believe God would never allow His prophet to die in such a manner and that Jesus survived the crucifixion. Some believe Jesus traveled to India during these missing years and there learned from and taught the Buddhists and the Hindus. You can certainly see similarities between His teachings and theirs. Some go further to say the Lost Tribes of Israel may have gone to India and that’s why Jesus went there. There is a tomb in Kashmir where it is rumored that Jesus is buried and another tome in Pakistan where it is rumored Mother Mary was buried. (Uh-oh, let’s hope they never prove that’s Jesus’ body in that tomb). The documentary also makes the case the Catholic church has evidence on this it is keeping secret (say it isn’t so… the Catholic church keeping secrets). Is there any proof in the documentary? No, not at all. It’s interesting speculation, a decent case. As my wife asked “So what?” What if Jesus did travel to India before and/or after His crucifixion? Well, that would loosen Christianity’s exclusive claim on Him. Muslims revere Him as a prophet. They call Him Issa. Hindus in India call him Isa and they also revere Him. Jesus has pretty much universal respect around the world, including with atheists who think He was a great teacher. It’s Christianity that is the stumbling block for many, not Jesus. If Jesus did travel to India, teach and learn, it could be a bit step towards, dare I say it, one world faith.
A couple of weeks ago, when we were in Sedona, I thought once again that I’d like to have a Jesus statue for my altar. I have a Jizo statue (Japanese), a compassionate Buddha statue, a Lord Krishna statue, but no Jesus statue. I’m as much of a follower of Jesus as any of these figures. But, here is the problem. As I looked in this Catholic shop for a Jesus statue, and as I’ve looked elsewhere, I can’t find anything that depicts the Jesus I want to remember in my meditation time. All I can find is baby Jesus in a manger or Jesus hanging on a cross. Christianity is so focused on the Christmas story, the Easter story and Jesus’ blood, they have practically forgotten about His life.