The Mystical Teachings of Christianity by Jim Lewis
All four Gospels tell of the great event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They vary in the details of the story, but this is to be expected. Although other people are included, Mary Magdalene is a dominant witness. The other women mentioned are Mary, the mother of James; Salome; and Joanna.
In Mark’s version, the earliest written record, we read that a young man dressed in a white robe tells the women that Jesus has risen. He instructs them to go and tell the disciples but they are so fearful that the record says they went and told no one.
Matthew says that an angel rolled away the stone from the tomb and that the angel told the women to go and tell the disciples, which they did. Luke tells us that two men in dazzling apparel were at the tomb when the women arrived. The men asked them why they were seeking the living amongst the dead. The women were fearful and quickly left to go and tell the disciples.
John’s version is still quite different. His was the last Gospel to be written. According to John, Mary came to the tomb alone. She sees that the stone has been rolled away. She immediately runs to tell Peter and John. They come to investigate and when they see that Jesus’ body is gone they leave. Mary remains at the tomb. While crying and contemplating this turn of event.s, two angels appear to her and ask her why she is crying. They must have appeared to her as ordinary individuals, for she is not startled at their appearance. She says, “They have taken away my Lord and I know not where they have laid him.” She then turns around and sees someone else, a man that she assumed was the gardener. This person also asks why she is crying. Her answer to him is, “Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.”
Jesus then speaks her name and Mary recognizes Him; she is amazed and excited. Jesus tells her not to touch Him, but to go and tell the others that she has seen Him and that He has ascended.
It is evident from all these accounts of the resurrection that the women and others were not expecting the resurrection of Jesus even though He had told them very specifically that He would rise again on the third day. The women had spices to give His body a permanent burial. When they found the body gone, they thought someone had stolen it.
The basic idea of a virgin-born, dying, resurrecting and ascending god is a common theme in religious belief around the world. Because of this some want to discredit the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Some would explain it as a myth attached to Jesus. Some would say that even Jesus is a myth, that all this happened in the minds of His followers, but not literally. Some would say that Jesus did not die on the cross and therefore it was not a case of resurrection but one of resuscitation.
When an event happens that is out of the ordinary we are at a loss in attempting to describe it. In the excitement, awe, or fear one may describe it in very symbolic and descriptive language. And if several people are describing the same extraordinary, objective event, the details may even be contradictory. Something is happening both subjectively and objectively, but it may be difficult to determine just what happened from the varied and often exaggerated descriptions.
In the case of the resurrection of Jesus, about all we can conclude is that Jesus was crucified, that He actually died on the cross and therefore was factually dead when He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. In some manner still unknown to us, the tomb was opened and Jesus came out, leaving the burial garments in the tomb. He appeared later that day to various individuals and again the next Sunday night to convince doubting Thomas. He then appeared to the disciples in Galilee and to a large number of people on another occasion. According to Paul, Jesus appeared to His brother James (see I Cor. 15:7) and this must have made a believer out of His brother. While Jesus was going about teaching, His brother was not a follower. Later however, James, the brother of Jesus, not the disciple James, became the leader of the church in Jerusalem and was more highly regarded than either Peter or Paul.
After these appearances in Galilee, there were some more appearances in the Jerusalem area climaxed by the ascension that took place on Olivet between Jerusalem and Bethany. Mark, Luke, and Paul describe the ascension as Jesus rising and being taken up in a cloud to heaven which they thought was up in the sky somewhere. Mark says that He sat down at the right hand of God. This can only be an opinion, for Mark wasn’t there to see God on a throne with Jesus sitting next to Him.
A tremendous mystical idea is contained in the myth, legend and actual details of the experience of Jesus’ resurrection and the similar resurrection stories in other primitive religions. We must be careful that we do not toss out this great idea by discounting Jesus and everything about Him.
Jesus’ resurrection is not the only one recorded in the Bible. Jesus was responsible for three others: Lazarus, the widow’s son at Nain, and Jairus’ daughter. Peter raised Tabitha, also known as Dorcas, at Joppa. Paul raised a young man named Eutychus. Paul was giving a sermon and Eutychus was present, sitting in a window on the second floor because of the crowd. He fell asleep, lost his balance, fell out of the window, and was killed when he hit the pavement below. Paul ran downstairs and brought him back to life again.
There are also stories of resurrection in the Old Testament. For example, the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman who befriended him. He rewarded her and her husband by promising them they would have a son; to their amazement, they did. When the son grew up he worked in the fields with his father. One day he died of sunstroke. The woman went to Elisha in tears and asked him to do something about it. Elisha sent his servant Gehazi ahead with his staff to see if Gehazi could revive him, but he couldn’t. When Elisha arrived he went into the room where the boy was lying. He lay upon the boy. The first time nothing happened so he got up and walked around the room. Then he repeated the process which sounds like mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. We are told the boy sneezed seven times and was restored to life.
Another interesting account of resurrection is the one that took place after Elisha died. His body was placed in a tomb. One day as a funeral procession was moving to the same tomb where Elisha was buried the people saw a group of Moabite raiders coming at them. In fear they threw the body into the tomb and fled. When the body landed on the bones of Elisha we are told the man got up and left the tomb. I have often wondered if the bones of Elisha were so powerful why Elisha didn’t come out of the tomb also.
What do all these episodes about resurrection mean? Are we to look forward to a physical resurrection? Or are we to see them only as metaphysical or mythological stories? Are any of them for real? Is it really possible for someone who has died, someone who has been proven dead, to come back to life?
These myths (and some of them are no doubt myths), legends and possible historical events are seeking to convey to us the idea of the immortality of life. We are deluded by the physical events of birth and death and believe that life begins with birth and ends at death. At least we acknowledge the fact that life as a physical experience ends with death. We may think the soul continues on, but as for the physical, we have been taught that death is the end. The hope that some day in the future there will be a physical resurrection and that transformation of the body will take place is held by many, but this resurrection will be done by God Who can do all things.
The truth is, life is immortal and the possibility of immortal life in the present body is part of this great truth. We intuitively know this but are reluctant to believe it to be possible. The weight of physical evidence is so overwhelming that it staggers the intellect even to think that a resurrection could take place or that a person could just disappear and take his body with him. Yet there is something within all of us that longs for and yearns for mastery over death. We want to live. Even though we have been told that the next expression of life, an existence without a physical body, is to be better than this experience with a physical body, we still do not want to die, we want to live. We may attempt to suppress this natural urge to live but we will never be able to do so successfully. When we see others terminally ill we want to pray and do all within our means to help them be healed.
We are not consistent in our thinking about life here with a body, and life somewhere else without one. Depending upon the circumstances we may think that death is a blessed release that will lead to something greater. Then we turn around and think that death is a form of punishment. Paul states this when he says, “The wages of sin is death.”
When we seriously consider the teachings of Jesus we find that immortality, eternal life in the body, stands out as a dominant theme. As Jesus taught it, eternal life in the body, and I stress in a physical body, not some ethereal body, but a flesh-and-blood body, is possible. There were a number of occasions where Jesus impressed upon His followers that He, the resurrected Jesus, was flesh and blood. It was for His disciples’ benefit that He permitted Thomas to touch His wounds; otherwise, the wounds would linve been honied. He also ate fish with them after Hie resurrection.
In Matt. 19:29 it is recorded that Jesus said, “And everyone that hath forsaken houses or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” And in Matt. 22:32 Jesus says that God is not God of the dead, but of the living. In John 6:47 we read “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Other passages include John 6:51: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread (the I AM) he shall live forever,” and John 6:91: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” This passage is quite specific.
One last passage, and there are many more, that I feel is very specific is from John 11: 25 and 26. Here Jesus says to Martha before raising Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in mo will never die.” You will note in this passage that He is making reference to those who will die, that they will have another opportunity to live again in a body. We should remember that in the minds of the people of Jesus’ time, to live meant to live in a body. The second half of the statement refers to those who have overcome the limiting negative belief in death; they are “living and believing” and therefore will never die.
Life Is the will of Cod. A perfect expression and manifestation of life in the body is the intent and purpose and plan of Cod. Cod is not the author of death and rebirth. The Temple in Jerusalem is a mystical symbol of the body. It must be rebuilt. II has been destroyed (died) many times and been rebuilt (reincarnated) many limes. II is the indestructible Temple that we are seeking to build now whether we know il or not and whether we believe it after we know it. The soul knows il and it will keep on searching and seeking and endeavoring to build an eternal temple.
Jesus’ death and resurrection was for the specific purpose of revealing the power we all potentially have of expressing life perfectly in a body as He did it. He did not have to die on the cross to placate God, for God is not that stern or temperamental. Jesus permitted the crucifixion because of our need to know, believe, and achieve.
The body is important and must be appreciated and included in the desire for salvation. Traditional Christianity has stressed only the saving of the soul. We must now enlarge our view and include the saving of the body, the rejuvenation and transformation of the limited physical body to the immortal body of light.
It takes great ideas to accomplish great things. The true idea of immortality is so great that it leaves most people dumbstruck with disbelief. It will take much growth before many can even accept it as an intellectual possibility and that is a necessary first step before the actual experience of the ascension can take place. The irony of this is that many who are ill want to be healed and to live, but they find it difficult to believe in what they want. They think that possibly God made them ill and that He might possibly be taking them. The truth is, God never “takes” anyone.
The belief in death is so prevalent that it has paralyzed, victimized, and frightened many. They believe it is normal and natural to die. They believe that nothing can prevent it and they submit to it without a question. They think that a person who believes in the possibility of overcoming death is irrational, illogical, and a little “off his rocker”. They see him as believing in an illusion.
Yet when we think of the attitudes of the majority, how they view health, sickness, or death we find that they are really the ones who are illogical in their thinking. They think of death as God taking someone to a heavenly home. If God is the cause of death why do they resist Him so much? Why do doctors wage a battle or struggle against God? Why don’t they cooperate with God and help the person die? Instead of putting people on machines to prolong life, instead of giving them medication that will prolong life, why don’t doctors give people something to help God take them more easily to the heavenly home? Also, if dying is God’s way of taking someone to a heavenly home, why does He do it in such a horrible way with so much pain and suffering? Why doesn’t He just take them in their sleep? Why does He first afflict them with some horrible and painful condition and cause them to suffer for years before the final end comes?
No, God does not cause any of this misery. We don’t understand why these things happen. We find it difficult to accept some personal responsibility, for it makes us feel guilty. So it is easier to blame God even if it is irrational and illogical to do so.
An important question we may ask is, “What good does it do to believe in an idea that seems so impossible?” The answer is very simple: it does a lot of good! We can’t begin to realize the tremendous healing power surge that starts to resurrect or rejuvenate the cells of the body when we begin to believe the truth about the body and the possibility of immortal life in it. If you want to begin to experience a healing and renewing as you have never had before, begin to give some serious consideration to this great idea. It isn’t necessary that you have a full conscious understanding of how it will happen. It is only necessary that you begin to believe it, even if it does seem impossible.
All great accomplishments begin in consciousness as belief in an idea, an idea that probably most people think is impossible. When the life idea is resurrected in consciousness, there will be no death. The body will be transformed. Jesus appeared to us in a body like ours but this does not mean that this is the best form or appearance of the body. It has also been referred to as a body of light. It will be a body that is very responsive to our thought. It will be more than an astral body. That is only the psychic body removed from the physical body in sleep.
In this body of light we will be able to appear wherever we desire to appear. No one will be able to destroy us or harm us or cause us any pain whatsoever. No one will be able to control us or keep us in bondage as slaves or hostages. Bullets or bombs will not be able to destroy us; germs will have no effect upon us. There will be no need for what we think are necessary and enjoyable things, such as eating. There will be even more enjoyable things to do with our time. This very fact, that there will be no need to consume food as we know it, will bring about a change in the physical form. Organs of assimilation and elimination will not be necessary. Cell structure will be different and whatever is needed to sustain them will be absorbed from the sea of substance and life in which we live, move, and have our being.
We are told in the Gospels that Jesus ascended before his disciples. This is simply a description that tells us He disappeared before their eyes. It isn’t necessary to die in order to experience the ascension. In fact if one dies he will either have to experience the resurrection or reincarnate in another body before the ascension can take place.
When Jesus died on the cross and came back He showed that this seeming final experience is not the end. He probably gave some good talks to the souls in the psychic realm while he was there over the weekend. Like us they probably get so comfortable they become hard of hearing. By that I mean they do not comprehend things that are revealed to them in simple clear ways.
Does all this sound preposterous? Yes, it does. Does it sound impossible or improbable? Yes, it does. But we should forget about how impossible it sounds or even how difficult it may seem to be and just accept it as a possibility. There are many things we are enjoying today that seemed like total impossibilities at one time. Finding an inexpensive form of energy seems impossible and yet that is what we have the most of in this universe—energy. Even the physical body, when it seems to lack energy, has an unlimited Source within it.
Believe in life and you will grow to understand the so-called mysteries and truths of life. Believe in death and you will add nothing beneficial, only fear and apprehension.
A strong, positive, powerful, constructive belief in life will lead to the rejuvenation of mind and body and that is something we all want and can have.
© 1981, Dr. James C. Lewis
All rights reserved by the author.
Reprinted with permission.