One part of the Easter story that has always fascinated…

April 7, 2012 at 7:37 AM (Uncategorized) ()

both when I was agnostic and during my believing times…

I realize this question makes no difference to those who are certain there was no historical Jesus, please, do skip this.  Don’t mean to bother you with it.

But, ok…assuming for the moment he did exist.  And assuming that there were a group of students of Jesus.  The religious fundamentalists, the Pharisees took him to religious court and charged him…and then they hand him off to the Romans, the most powerful military/political force of the time.

If I was a non Roman, of any sort.  I’d be scared right out of my sandals if the Romans were after me.  If there is any truth to the first three Gospel accounts at all, while they were deciding what to do with Jesus, they were questioning folks about his followers…who and where they were, etc.

And they scattered.  Headed for the hills.  A very human, very understandable response.

My question has always been…particularly at the times in my life that I have been sensibly skeptical of this idea of resurrection…

There was this little corner in my head.

“What brought them back, anyway?”  It runs counter to every response to persecution and pursuit, that they would, soon after the crucifixion, turn right around and walk back into Roman jurisdiction, and begin preaching.

Playing Devils advocate for a moment…stating the antithetical position:

Perhaps, if they existed…they *did* hide.  For as much as a year, say…

But couldn’t bear the thought that they were skulking around in caves after their teacher had been taken.

And while in hiding, created an oral history that cast themselves back in as heroes…given power to teach and heal that mirrored Jesus’ own  that’s a very human response too…selective memory about past events….a history that, in conjunction with Saul, the converted Pharisee, the Christian hunter…became Paul the writer of the Epistles Paul’s letters…became the reason that by the time Nero fiddled, approximately 63 years later, there were Greek Christians, scribes  all over the Roman Empire…

I just don’t think it was Paul’s zeal alone that made it a movement and then a religion and eventually the dominan+t European faith.  I’m not prepared, from a human perspective to say what it was…

Being as I’m presently a believer…(and I’m only stating my experience of it, not anyone else’s)  It is at this celebration that Christ answers…”I came back.  I came back for you,” (the collective, not the singular, you) It is the extreme version of a stranger laying down their life for peoples they will never know.  That is so powerful.

Paul’s question could be very right.  Believers could all be dupes.  (I’ve certainly seen Christian dupes and those who dupe them in my time. Also plenty who give themselves the name ‘Christian’ and aren’t. Grrr. Sometimes I wish Jesus would get here on *my* timetable and do the “I never knew you, get away from me,” thing.  Certain American denominations or political figures would be quite surprised.)

And sometimes I wonder if American Christians realize:

Jesus was Jewish…

He hung with prostitutes, and other marginalized people.

He cared for the sick.

Early Christians often lived collectively (ooooo socialism, collectivism)

If the moneychanger story is true he didn’t think much of raking in money in a religious sanctuary – – megachurches take note.

Jesus was not affiliated with *any* political party anywhere in the world, then, or now.

Some seem to ‘worship’ Paul by making his letters the foundation of their faith experience.  If that’s what they want to do…they can, but why call it Christianity if the Gospels appear missing?

So did he exist?  and if he did, why did his students fllee and then return, and eventually write an account that has had a grip on the human psyche for millenia?

I was trained in history, and had a rookie theologian for a husband, so these arguments interest me.

But all of that aside, for those who celebrate, have a blessed Easter time.

I’m going to relive not only Christ’s story, but the moment of my own conversion experiences…and then spend time with family on Sunday itself.

Peace

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