An Easter Message
In these contemporary times the holiday of Easter is widely celebrated in the U.S. and other predominantly Christian nations as a time for gathering of family and friends to celebrate the arrival of spring and the promise of new beginnings, new life. It is a time that many spend outdoors, appreciating the warming, sunny days after (for many) a cold, dark winter of discontent and depression.
For the religious Christian community, Easter is also a time to celebrate Jesus Christ rising from the dead after a terribly painful and ignoble death. Many Christians revisit the historical days that led up to Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, incarceration, torture, trial, crucifixion, and regained life after three days in the burial chamber. For those who believe in the risen Christ, the empty tomb and living Jesus represent a symbol of the possibilities of individuals rising from their own depressions and small psychospiritual deaths into a renewed sense of Christ’s spirit of hope and joy within them.
The Spirit of Truth Within
In his farewell discourse in The URANTIA Book before Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified, he spoke words of encouragement to his apostles. He had much to say about the gift of his presence in the Spirit of Truth. These are some of his words:
. . . I will not leave you desolate. Today I can be with you only in person. In the times to come I will be with you and all other [persons] who desire my presence, wherever you may be, and with each of you at the same time. Do you not discern that it is better for me to go away, that I leave you in the flesh so that I may the better and the more fully be with you in the spirit? . . . And this Spirit of Truth which I will bestow upon you shall guide and comfort you and shall eventually lead you into all truth . . . I am going to send you my spirit, just like me except for this material body. This new teacher is the Spirit of Truth who will live with each one of you, in your hearts, and so will all the children of light be made one and be drawn toward one another. And in this very manner will my Father and I be able to live in the souls of each one of you and also in the hearts of all other [persons] who love us and make that love real in their experiences by loving one another, even as I am now loving you. (Paper 180; Section 4.)
. . . And when my spirit comes to indwell you, he will illuminate the difference between sin and righteousness and will enable you to judge wisely in your hearts concerning them. (Paper 180; Section 6)
In Jesus’ final admonitions and warnings to his beloved apostles, he reminded them about his teachings on the continuance of life after physical death.
. . . Life in the Father’s eternal creation is not an endless rest of idleness and selfish ease but rather a ceaseless progression in grace, truth and glory. Each of the many, many stations in my Father’s house is a stopping place, a life designed to prepare you for the next one ahead. And so will the children of light go on from glory to glory until they attain the divine estate wherein they are spiritually perfected even as the Father is perfect in all things. (ibid., Paper 181; Section 1)
Just before his ordeal of arrest and eventual death, Jesus encouraged his apostles by clarifying how he could live on in them.
. . . Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I make these gifts not as the world gives—by measure—I give each of you all you will receive. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. I have overcome the world, and in me you shall all triumph through faith. In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have triumphed in the world and shown you the way to eternal joy and everlasting service.” (ibid.)
We are also informed: “Jesus gives peace to his fellow doers in the will of God, but not on the order of the joys and satisfactions of this material world.”
The URANTIA Book makes us aware that as the Son of Man, Jesus indeed suffered tribulation as any human being on Urantia (Earth) does. In fact, The URANTIA Book is very clear in pointing out that just before his arrest, Jesus experienced the thoughts and emotions that any human would have who was aware of the physical torture and the ridicule that he would have before his demeaning death. When Jesus was praying that night in Gethsemane, a few hours before his arrest, he said to Peter, James, and John: “Cannot you see my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death, and that I crave your companionship?” Those three apostles “could not help recognizing that [Jesus] was grievously oppressed; never before had they observed their Master to be so heavy-laden and sorrowful.” (Paper 182; Section 3)
The Process of Elevating Human Experiences
The URANTIA Book tells us (in Section 3 of Paper 182) that throughout his life, Jesus “experienced the natural ebb and flow of feeling which is common to all human experience.” During this intense time of prayer and communion with God in Gethsemane before his arrest we are told by the midwayers that:
. . . just now, he [Jesus] was weary from work, exhausted from the long hours of strenuous labor and painful anxiety concerning the safety of his apostles. While no mortal can presume to understand the thoughts and feeling of the incarnate Son of God at such a time as this, we know that he endured great anguish and suffered untold sorrow, for the perspiration rolled off his face in great drops.
. . . The divine mind of Michael knew he had done his best for the twelve apostles, but the human heart of Jesus wished that more might have been done for them before they should be left alone in the world. Jesus’ heart was being crushed. He truly loved his brethren. He was isolated from his family in the flesh. One of his chosen associates was betraying him. His father Joseph’s people had rejected him and thereby sealed their doom as a people with a special mission on earth. His soul was tortured by baffled love and rejected mercy. It was just one of those awful human moments when everything seems to bear down with crushing cruelty and terrible agony.
Jesus’ humanity was not insensible to this situation of private loneliness, public shame, and the appearance of the failure of his cause. All of these sentiments bore down on him with indescribable heaviness. In this great sorrow, his mind went back to the day of his childhood in Nazareth and to his early work in Galilee. At the time of this great trial there came up in his mind many of those pleasant scenes of his earthly ministry and it was from these old memories of Nazareth, Capernaum, Mount Herman and of the sunrise and sunset on the shimmering sea of Galilee that he soothed himself as he made his human heart strong and ready to encounter the traitor who should so soon betray him.
Before Judas and the soldiers arrived the Master had fully regained his customary poise, the Spirit had triumphed over the flesh, faith had asserted itself over all human tendencies to fear or entertain doubt. The supreme test of the full realization of the human nature had been met and acceptably passed. Once more the Son of Man was prepared to face his enemies with equanimity and in the full assurance of his invincibility as a mortal man unreservedly dedicated to doing the Father’s will. (ibid., Paper 182; Section 3)
What I see in this revelation of Jesus’ mindal process before his arrest was that he was aware of what he would have to endure, and he did not want to go through this terrible physical and psychological torture and die, branded as a common criminal and a disillusioned fool. However, he also knew that if he was to remain loyal to his mission on this world, he would have to go through the persecution, and he was willing to do this—“not my will but your will my God and Father.”
Jesus was accused by the media of his day of being an egomaniac. After all, he made the claim that he was the divine son, the promised Messiah, the one whom the prophets had spoken about hundreds of years before. He was considered a heretic. He did not stick to the teachings of the Hebrew scripture but went beyond them and actually dared to contradict some of those teachings. He claimed to be bringing through expanded revelation that went beyond these sacred writings of the Hebrews. How dare he do that? He even was forming a little alternative religious group with a bunch of apostles and disciples looking to him as their leader and teacher over and above the established respected religious leaders.
With all of the ridicule, condemnation and rejection of the mainstream, which included family and friends of his childhood, Jesus naturally felt down. His career and destiny seemed ruined with no hope of him becoming a respected, loved and accepted spiritual leader, the spiritual leader of the day.
What did Jesus do about all of this? What was his process? First and foremost, he thought of someone else. He encouraged his followers, especially the apostles. He told them about the Spirit of Truth that he was giving them and that this Spirit of Truth would be even more effective than his physical presence. He encouraged them and inspired them by reminding them of his teachings, the revelation that they were mandated to carry forth and share with the world. He was feeling strong and confident during that time of encouragement.
But just a couple of hours later, just a few hours before his arrest, Jesus plummeted in emotions and thoughts and suffered that tremendous sorrow, grief and fear—the fear for his beloved apostles who he realized were so fragile and so limited in their understanding of the revelation he had given them. In this time of distress, Jesus reached out to these apostles, especially three of them, admitting that he needed their presence and love during this time.
He even became frustrated with them, for they kept falling asleep on him and not really being present for him and his ordeal. His human mind was disappointed in them, but his divine heart and mind understood that they were only able to give to him in a limited manner, for they were but children in their understanding and spiritual growth.
Jesus also communed with God, pouring out his heart in the presence of these apostles, allowing them to see his humanness. And in that communion with God, his mind shifted into a higher understanding. It shifted into the divine mind, and he rose up out of that human suffering to face the ordeal of his arrest and ensuing torture and death with great poise, dignity and love.
The Lesson of Easter
What is the lesson for us today from this? It is a lesson of Easter. It is the lesson of resurrection. We know that Jesus did literally resurrect from the dead. But before his actual physical arrest, he had already resurrected from his own discouragement.
What does resurrection mean? In Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary there are a few definitions of resurrection: “To rise from the dead; to rise again to life of all the human dead before the final judgment; resurgence; revival; a spiritualization of thought. Material belief that yields to spiritual understanding.”
I think we are familiar with the definitions about rising from the dead, rising again from life, and the resurrection of people before judgment, but I want to refer to those last two definitions again because that is the type of resurrection that Jesus experienced in his mind before he was even arrested—A spiritualization of thought. Material belief that yields to spiritual understanding. We humans usually cannot do the type of resurrection in the hour or two that Jesus did. It takes us a little longer, but we can resurrect. We can resurrect within our minds.
Jesus was resurrected before his arrest, for his human thoughts and feelings became spiritualized. His material mind yielded to his divine mind, and his human understanding of his dilemma rose to a spiritual understanding, and that is why that process was described in The URANTIA Book. That is a lesson for us here today. Jesus set the example for us to follow, to rise from those ashes of deadly fear, discouragement, doubt, lack of faith, self-pity, and live again in the spiritualized mind with a higher, fourth-dimensional understanding of all the tribulations that we go through.
Jesus rose from the material mind and body into the morontia (higher, fourth-dimensional) mind and body. We too can be in that process of ascending from a merely material consciousness into a morontia (spiritualized) understanding of life. For most of us it probably is going to take longer than it did for Jesus, but we too can do it. Can we do any less than Jesus, the man, did?
Yes, Jesus was perfect; he was the Creator Son incarnated, and many of us are aware of that. But let us not forget that Jesus told his apostles that they could do even greater things than he. Now what did Jesus mean by that? He told them that he was going to be even more present with them after his physical death, and that would enable them to do greater things than he.
What does that mean to us today? It means that we who are “Jesusonians” today can reach even greater numbers of people with Jesus’ Fourth Epochal Revelation as presented in The URANTIA Book as well as additional cosmic truths applicable to our current times. It means that Jesus spoke of light and life, which he attained for himself personally as the Son of Man, and inferred that we humans can attain light and life personally as individuals, as well as actually helping to bring the entire planet into that status of light and life. It means that we can actually have Jesus’ mind—the mind of Christ through his Spirit of Truth. And with that understanding, if we can continue forth through that, yes, we can do greater things than he as a man did, and that is what he has called us to do.