“The power of any idea lies, not in its certainty or truth, but rather in the vividness of its human appeal.” – The Urantia Book, Papers 92:3.3
As a closing thought to this years Easter celebration, I have given much consideration as to why we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, with the biblical emphasis centered around his death, but perhaps not so much on his life and teachings.
In the Urantia Book the authors distinguish between the fact of Jesus’ life and of his resurrection, the tenet of Christian doctrine. Christianity is about his divinity, whereas the Urantia Book presentation is about his mortal life and his teachings.
In the vividness of the appeal of Jesus, we think about it in terms of what has had more impact; which is the better headline: “Jesus of Nazareth Upsets Local Religious Leaders,” or “Jesus of Nazareth has Risen from the Dead.”?
The answer seems obvious.
The vividness of the risen Christ is undeniable. It is that story that has captivated the hearts, minds and souls of people for two-thousand years. And yet his resurrection can almost be seen as being a normal event.
Jesus knew man, and he knew his death and resurrection would arouse the soul of mankind quite effectively, it would get far more attention down through the ages, and God knew this as well, which is partly why we must see that Jesus laid down his life, in addition to the other things that came from his death on the cross, to make sure we got the message that had its most impressive appeal.
But remember, it is the vividness of the its appeal that gets attention, and not the truth, necessarily. The truth of Jesus’ life, his day-to-day living among men, is the more important story. Many people who would otherwise love to know the life-story of Jesus are redirected to the miracle of his death. Christianity has focused on the more miraculous aspect, and it has been the vividness of that story that has continued to bring new believers into the kingdom. One wonders how many more people would be attracted to, and be inspired by, the teachings of Jesus, which sometimes gets lost in the miracle of his divinity.
Jesus himself tried to refrain from the use of miracles to win souls to the kingdom, instead, wanting his appeal to be about service, and the love of the Father, to win souls.
The resurrection surely proves we all have bright futures if we only have faith, but there are great lessons to be learned from examining the life of Jesus.
It is the hope of this author that an emphasis on the Life and Teachings of Jesus will be more fully presented and studied in the ages to come, and with less emphasis on the atonement aspect of Jesus death.
Perhaps this is why the Revelators thought it wise to present the entire story at this time and in this age, as we transition from the Age of Miracles to the Age of Reason.
The real miracle of Jesus wasn’t that he rose from the dead. He had already foretold of that event. No, the real miracle, if you think about it, is that the highest representation of Deity, lived life as a mortal being.
by Jamie Rochelle, Contributor
When Pope Francis, just days before Easter, said that he believes there is no actual place such as Hell, the world went crazy. Half of the world’s Catholics rushed to say the Pope was simply misquoted, the other half condemned the Pope for making such an egregious statement, going against thousands of years of belief within the Hebrew, as well as the Christian, Islamic and (Islam’s earlier counterpart) Zoroastrian doctrine.
Hell, it seems, is etched deep into our cultural psyche, and definitely has plenty of fury.
Mainline Christians were appalled. “What did Jesus die for then, but to keep us from Hell?” they said. Still others were quick to say the Pope was simply misunderstood.
What is most interesting, if one is to observe the whole situation from the outside looking in, is what Pope Francis said was Hell. The Pope stated that non-existence is what happens to people who do not receive grace, or salvation. We simply cease to exist, we have given up our participation in soul ascension – eternal life.
In short, Pope Francis was only stating what is now commonly believed (among the hierarchy of theology) that the term Hell represents separation from God, not an actual physical piece of planetary real estate that God has cordoned off as an eternal hellfire world where unbelievers suffer miserably among the brimstone and fire we might envision in Dantes’ literature.
Francis’ version of hell, from a philosophical point of view, simply means soul-extinction, or non-existence after the mortal estate has run its course.
Spiritually speaking, this concept makes more sense than the idea that God has a special physical place reserved for evildoers.
The reaction of the people to Pope Francis grabbed my attention. I do believe the Pontiff was on to something when he stated his point, and it was surely a more illustrative idea which shows that our salvation, as Jesus stated, is up to us. We determine our fate by our choice to believe it is possible to have eternal life. We choose to survive. Further, that we, as human beings, must accept the notion that we can be “saved” from soul-death, or in the more common vernacular, be redeemed for our sins, by our faith. Absent our faith, we are setting up our own individual death sentence. We don’t get to pass GO and we don’t collect our get-out-of-Jail free card. We simply cease to exist.
As Jesus said, “Your faith alone shall save you.”
But people need Hell, they need the concept of eternal damnation, they want, as was clearly shown, to be deterred from going to hell because of how bad it must be to suffer eternal pain and suffering. And while such a place of destination is contrary to Jesus’ description of our loving and merciful Father, man needs deterrance; he needs to be pushed away from pain. Hell is that pain.
But the greatest lesson from these most recent events is disclosed in our hesitancy to remain unchanged in our ideas of olden religious concepts, whether they be about atonement for original sin, eternal damnation, or soul redemption through the belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. Man has an eternal curse that even the message of Jesus cannot reconcile. We are damned from birth. Sin, it seems, is genetic.
And so it is when an attempt is made to uplift ourselves away from olden and archaic concepts such as Original Sin, a scourge that goes back almost forty-thousand years to the time of Adam and Eve (according the Urantia Book), we are faced with the real fact that Man is simply not ready to let go of the idea that God needs us to suffer in hell for our transgressions.
Pope Francis attempted to move us towards a greater recognition that “hell” is our unwllingness to choose to have a relationship with God, or face the consequences of eternal non-existence for doing so. The choice is ours.
But for all Christians who have inherited a legacy of guilt-ridden and guilt-motivated faith, letting go of a physical hell of eternal suffering seems to remain relevant, even in this modern age.
As the saying goes, Evolutionary progress is sure, but it is also very slow, and seemingly moves at the pace of a very large herd.
But such is the nature of humanity.
by Jeffery Richards, Contributer
David Zebedee was the brother of John and James Zebedee, the two first Apostles of Jesus. And while Davids’ brothers were busy being ambassadors of the new kingdom, David busied himself by setting up a network of messengers who would carry news of Jesus of Nazareth throughout Judea. You might consider the Zebedee messengers as the worlds first Social Media network.
Throughout Jesus’ public preaching tour, David and his band of 50 messengers would carry news updates to the travelers near and far throughout Judea. Runners they were, publicly proclaiming not so much the Gospel that Jesus taught, but of the news of Jesus and his Apostles as newsworthy events unfolded, including the raising of Lazarus from death, the turning of water into wine at the Cana Wedding, the Leper’s miraculous cure, the curing of the blind man, and lastly, the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth.
With each new passing event, the messengers would spread the news, bringing to the surrounding villages recitals of events of significance pertaining to this strange new teacher and all that transpired.
And then on that fateful Sunday morning when Jospeh’s Tomb was found empty by Mary Magdalene and her associates, and when David subsequently went to the tomb itself and saw that the Master’s body was gone, it was this same David, without approval, without authorization and without hesitation, had one final message to relay to citizens of Jerusalem. Said David:
Urantia Book, Paper 190:1, 5
“Men and brethren, all this time you have served me in accordance with your oath to me and to one another, and I call you to witness that I have never yet sent out false information at your hands. I am about to send you on your last mission as volunteer messengers of the kingdom, and in so doing I release you from your oaths and thereby disband the messenger corps. Men, I declare to you that we have finished our work. No more does the Master have need of mortal messengers; he has risen from the dead. He told us before they arrested him that he would die and rise again on the third day. I have seen the tomb—it is empty. I have talked with Mary Magdalene and four other women, who have talked with Jesus. I now disband you, bid you farewell, and send you on your respective assignments, and the message which you shall bear to the believers is: `Jesus has risen from the dead; the tomb is empty.'”
And so it transpired on that Day, April 9, AD 30, that Davids 26 remaining messengers delivered their final message.
Lost on the pages of history is this man of conviction, who, with no direction from anyone save his own certitude of the Masters’ promise to rise again on the third day, took it upon himself to herald the news of the resurrection.
The lesson here, and there are many, is that David needed no authority in proclaiming the truth; David Zebedee, with truth on his side, took it upon himself to deliver the good news to all who would hear. He didn’t ask God for permission. He didn’t seek guidance from his fellow man on what was the ‘right thing to do.’ David needed only to believe in the truth – and then proclaim it to the world.
I admire David Zebedee. Too bad his achievements didn’t make it into the pages of Scripture, but such as it is for the millions of people who dare to proclaim the truth without recognition.
This story matters because it serves as a reminder to all of us that when we once grasp truth about God, we only need to believe and proclaim.