Relevance of the Easter Story
So, as we gather, as many are gathering in places of worship throughout the world on this Easter morning, to relive the experience, to think about it, to find some personal application in our own lives as we identify with it. I suppose as always, we ask the question, well what happened, and what significance does it have to our lives today?
It seems that an itinerant preacher had come to the big city to spread the gospel. That is putting it rather basically. This, in a sense, is what happened:
He was a threat to the established religions of that day because they thought that he was coming to change their religion, which is not at all what he was about. He was a threat to the Roman rule because they thought that he was coming to set up a new kingdom, which was not what he was all about. There was a great deal of resistance to his being there, a great deal of fear, and a great deal of confusion in the minds of people.
Ultimately, he was arrested on trumped up charges, and after a mock trial he was taken to a high hill, and along with two common thieves, he was brutally crucified.
Of course, it was supposed by everyone that this would be the end of that man. Actually, it was only the beginning. For after three days they found the stone of his tomb rolled away, and there were appearances to the disciples and to others, seemed to confirm that he had in a very real sense risen from the dead.
Today throughout the world there is a great singing and rejoicing, he is risen, he is risen! Let the whole wide earth rejoice! The Easter sermon usually retells the story, sometimes elaborates a little.
I want to confess something. Sometimes the little doubt within me whispers, “What does all this have to do with us, with the situations in life such as the pandemic? What does it all have to do with situations in our life, our country or the world? What does it all have to do with one’s personal challenges? If this Easter tradition has any meaning at all for our life today, then I say let us hear it in very simple terms. If it has no relevancy for our time, then against the grain of the tradition, and against the possibility that I would probably be considered sacrilegious for even saying such a thing, I think we should just forget the whole thing.
Of course, I am convinced that it is very relevant, but I believe that somehow, we must cut through a lot of the gobbledygook and somehow let this Easter experience come alive in us. Then we are going to experience something that is very beautiful, very wonderful, and very lasting.
I have a feeling that there is something in the Easter story that applies on a practical basis to all of us. I do not want to just talk about it. I don’t want to sit back and sing songs about it and listen to the story and then go on our way and say, “Ho hum, another Easter. Let us go out and have lunch.”
I want to see you raise from death to life. I want to help you to find the way from defeat to victory. I want this to be a process in you from sickness to health.
Our course, there is plenty of questions in this Easter story. How could a man rise from the dead? After all, when you are dead, you are a long time dead. We might as well face it, there are many questions that do not lead to useful conclusions.
There are a lot of questions that do not have an answer, in terms of the how or the why or the wherefore. The intellect tells us that there is no way that a man who had been crucified and had been dead for three days could come back to life again.
But it becomes increasingly obvious that this itinerant preacher was no ordinary man. He discovered a new dimension of life, and thus by means of a truth perspective, he moved through the experience that we call death without being affected by it.
Do not ask me to tell you how it was done. I do not think anyone knows the how, and perhaps that is not relevant. To go into all sorts of scientific or theological explanations of how it was accomplished, is to miss the real story.
It is also important that we do not fall into the traditional pitfall by saying that, after all, Jesus was God, and God can do anything, so God did anything on that day.
This, in my view, was not God becoming man for a while, but it was man, not an ordinary man to be sure, a highly evolved man, but man nevertheless, a flesh and blood man like you and me. A man, whose finger would bleed if you cut it. A man, whose hand would hurt if you squeezed it too hard. A man, who probably got hungry occasionally. Remember the experience in the wilderness when he was tempted. He was tempted to turn stones into bread, evidence of the fact that he was hungry.
He was man. A man on the quest. A man working to understand his own soul, to demonstrate his divine potential. A man experiencing a loving desire to help every person throughout all time to know the truth. A man, not only achieving his own victory, but proving for all time certain fundamental spiritual laws applicable to every life in every time. In other words, Jesus was one of us. This is a long-forgotten message, one that is rarely heard.
Easter proclaims, more than anything else, that there is a real-life genius within you. It is not simply talking about the fact that a man rose from the dead 2000 years ago. Easter is about the fact that there is a certain fundamental principle to understand about your life. That there is a fundamental, real life genius within you, struggling for release.
If you can get into the consciousness, even to a limited degree, the consciousness that Jesus experienced, and let Easter live in you, then the stones of all kinds of limitation can be rolled away from your tomb.
Now, this is not to say that this comes easy. You must work, and study, and discipline yourself, and you are going to have to keep on and keep on keeping on. You see, we misunderstand Jesus if we fail to note the commitment and the discipline of his own quest. He did not come into life at a particular level of consciousness all worked out for him so that he could not make a mistake. This is a total misunderstand of his story. Jesus was man on the quest, man experiencing the overcoming, and having much to overcome.
Paul says, “He was tempted in all points such as we, yet without sin.” In other words, he was continually working, meeting these experiences, rising above them. We see evidence all along the way. We see him when it says, “He wept” over Jerusalem. He was emotional for a moment, and unnerved. He was disturbed by the fact that his disciples let him down and we say, “Oh, well of course, anybody would be.” Anybody would be, and Jesus was anybody. He was one of us on a high level of consciousness through the process of the final overcoming.
In whatever happened in that tomb, on that first Easter, there is one thing that we must understand about it. There was spiritual law involved. Not caprice, not whim, not God saying, “Oh well. After all, we can do anything because we are God, so we’re just going to make this thing work out as we want it.” There was spiritual law involved, and because it was law, it was not some one-time miracle of God, but the demonstration of a process that is repeatable. Because under spiritual law, that which has been done once can always be done.
Jesus proved the divinity of man, the law, and this you see is the basis of what we call spiritual healing. It is the basis of overcoming of any kind. The reason that we can achieve and rise above our limitations today is because there is a fundamental law. Jesus understood that law, he demonstrated that law, he saw it in its highest extent. This is the key to life.
Every person may have his own crucifixions and tombs of limitation, and I doubt if there is a one of us who does not have some grievous challenge in life, but there is always within each of us the power to transcend that limiting experience, to roll away the stone. Something happened to Jesus in that tomb. I am not going to even attempt to give any kind of an answer as to what happened. Whatever happened, it was not outside of life, it was not outside of law. What happened was a promise of what can happen in life and under law to and for all of us.
I say, do not get hung up on the cross. It does not mean that everybody must go through crosses to fulfill the Easter story. It means that we must realize what the man Jesus was about. He was demonstrating law.
He too had struggled through questions, such as why? Why should this happen to me? I am a good person, why should this happen to me? Why? As we said, we cannot always know the answer to the why, or the how. In the end he realized something that is very beautiful and something that many of us have come to know through our insight in truth. That the need is not to set things right, not to straighten people out, not to get all the answers as to what is going on.
The need is not to set it right, but to see it rightly. To get on the level of consciousness where we can let it go, stop resisting it, stop saying, “Why did it happen? How did it happen?” We see, from a clear perspective. It enables us not only to see through the dark hour, through the experience, but to see the principle of all things work together for good.
We can come to a point in life, and many of us have come to that point, where we can look back on our experiences which seem to be crucifixions and tombs, such as an unjust firing from a job, some accident that was not of our own doing. Some physical problem that struck us down seemingly out of the blue. Some rejection by a loved one. All these many things are such great heartaches at the time. We can come to a healing, finally overcoming them, blessed by them, and then looking back and say sincerely, “I don’t know how it happened, or why it happened, and yet I can see now that it was probably the best thing that ever happened, because of the good that has come out of it.”
Then we are not concerned with setting it right or trying to know all the ins and outs about it, but we were interested in finding the way to see it rightly. That is what I call the Easter perspective, where we see things from a higher point of view.
The human of us almost instinctively wants to grovel in the dirt, wants to roll over in the thing, wants to feel sorry for ourselves and beg for sympathy from others. We get so embroiled in the difficulty. Why did they do it? Why did it happen to me? We can find the higher perspective, not to try to change what people are doing, or straighten people out, but where we can see it from a perspective that looks beyond all of this, sees through the dark hour, to the light at the other end.
The word resurrection or resurrectus in Latin comes from the word resurge. A resurgence of life, of understanding, of truth, springing up onto newness of life. Seeing, in other words, through a different perspective. Seeing life from a different viewpoint.
Life is a living, flowing experience, if we simply look again, we will see that life always goes on. That spring is in the garden again, that something is happening, a resurgence that is always within life itself. It is always bubbling forth within us if we can only tune into it, if we can just get the higher perspective.
We need to stop trying to set it right and just see it rightly, and see that life goes on, and see even the person who has died has moved onto a new experience. There can be no ending in life. You can go on and find new courage and enthusiasm and find that somehow all things work together for good. That even though it seemed sad and tragic, yet somehow it opened the way for a new dimension of experience.
When you lift your eyes and see life from a higher perspective, and suddenly beyond emptiness you can find fullness. Beyond the illnesses of the physical you can relate to the allness of universal life, which is always present. Beyond the insufficiencies that you face, or some new challenge that seems beyond you, you can tune in upon all sufficiency of the creative process which is ever within you. Facing this very experience is an opportunity for you to demonstrate and to prove a spiritual law. It is turning from the human urge to set things right, to the new commitment to see in the right perspective.
You see, when we get the full meaning of Easter, we stop looking at the tomb, and stop looking at the death. We stop looking at Jesus as God who was working out a miracle that has no relationship to us. Then suddenly we see that it is not simply a way of seeing a certain thing, but it is a certain way of seeing all things. In other words, Easter is not just a way of understanding that open tomb of 2000 years ago, it is a perspective that enables you and me to deal with every experience of life in the light of the resurrection principle.
Let us not complicate Easter by thinking that Jesus showed us all how to resurrect from the dead, because that is irrelevant. In a sense it is true, but it is irrelevant because right now most of us are not that concerned about how to rise from the dead. We may be involved in a lot of complicated how questions that we cannot resolve. All that too is incidental in the process.
Fundamentally, Jesus demonstrated for you and for me and for all persons who have eyes to see and ears to hear, that if we look, we can see allness in illness, we can see all sufficiency in insufficiency, we can see full potentiality even in limitations, and we find the key to overcoming and the key to a victorious, transcendent life. This is what Easter is all about.
 Hebrews 4:15