Did the resurrection really happen? Was an individual named Jesus really raised from the dead over two thousand years ago? Theologians and atheists both agree that the validity of Christianity rests on this one point alone. Many atheists argue that if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead then there’s no need for Christianity or God because it’s all myth. On the other hand, since Christians believe that Christ was raised from the dead, we too can have eternal life if we believe in him. Both of these arguments are ridiculously short-sighted and they completely divert attention away from the reality and purpose of existence.
The debate isn’t about whether Jesus was really resurrected or not. The debate should be focused on what the resurrection of Jesus represents. Once this is answered, you’ll have no trouble seeing how primitive arguments over Jesus and the resurrection really areJ
To understand what the resurrection is about, let’s briefly explore what eternal life and death meant for the ancient writers of scripture. Eternal life and death had nothing to do with the clinical definition we give them today. Eternal life meant the liberation of consciousness from the lower self, which is a major step towards liberation from the cycle of birth and death (reincarnation) in the tomb of the physical body. Death simply meant the fall from grace when spirit or consciousness incarnated into a physical body and began identifying through the lower self and ego. Even Genesis makes this clear. God told Adam that in the day he ate of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would die. But he didn’t experience a physical death, he was kicked out of the Garden of Eden and had to endure life as a man in a physical body working by the sweat of his brow. In fact, you could even say he was given physical life. The church can sure get things backwards, can’t it?J
Similarly, the resurrection has nothing to do with experiencing a physical death and then being brought back to life. To elaborate, I want to bring your attention to a quote from one of the most brilliant writers of the early church, Origen. An astute scholar and theologian, he is perhaps the most prolific Christian writer and defender of the faith of any of the church fathers. The strange thing is his faith was a lot different than today’s Christian idea of faith. In fact he stated what I have quoted below when he compared the resurrection of Christ to the resurrection of the Greek God Dionysus:
“Or, forsooth, are the Greeks to be allowed to use such words [resurrection] with regard to the soul, and speak in allegorical fashion, and we [Christians] forbidden to do so?”
— G.R.S. Mead, Orpheus, p. 186.
It should be obvious to us that Origen considered the resurrection to be, as Mead points out, “an allegory of the soul,” rather than a historical event.
Jesus explains the crucifixion, the resurrection as the evolution of the soul
So why would Origen consider the resurrection an allegory of the soul? Let’s illustrate from the words of Jesus himself. We’ll review part of the Gospel of John, chapter twelve:
“And Jesus answered them, saying, the hour has come, that the son of man should be glorified” (John 12:23).
I want you to notice that Jesus identifies himself with the son of man here, not the son of God. This is because the son of man is a symbol of the evolution of the soul to develop higher consciousness, putting to death the lower personality. Jesus continues:
“…expect a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24)
Jesus is using a metaphor to compare to the death of the ego and the advancement of the soul to a kernel (seed) of wheat falling into the ground to sprout and produce much more. Unless we die to our ego, we will not bear the fruit of life through the spirit, or the higher self and higher consciousness. Jesus elaborates further in the next verse:
“He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates (crucifies the ego and lower personality) his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12: 25).
Loving life through the lower personality and ego is not only being attached to materiality, but also to the desires and passions of the lower self. It is this attachment which keeps the ego immersed in and reincarnating into the material plane. Eternal life has nothing to do with living forever after being raised from the dead. The soul is already immortal. It cannot die. It is the lower self that dies when consciousness is raised. This is what it means to glorify the son of man. In this glorification the son of man becomes the son of God, for when we are united with the Higher Self we experience a union with God and can truly be called His son again. Subsequently, he who truly crucifies the ego will also experience the resurrection. For Jesus, eternal life meant living through the higher-self by becoming the soul.
Resurrection from the dead: “A symbol for…the rising of the indwelling or incarnate Self from the lower nature to the higher at the end of the cycle. In relation to the egos, the resurrection signifies the rising of consciousness from the lower mind to the higher in the causal-body at the cycle’s end; or the liberation of the spiritual egos from captivity to the lower nature. The lower nature is “dead,” for it has in it no true life.”
The rising of the Christ in the mind of men is, as Jesus puts it, the reason for his coming.
“Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12: 27).
The Christ, or the indwelling spirit rising in the minds of men, is the very purpose of our existence. The evolution of the soul is an inherent quality within life or existence itself.
I’ll further illustrate by a quote from Jesus in John 12: 26:
“If any man serve me (denying the ego), let him follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be…”
Obviously this scripture is not literal. By serving Jesus you are with him. How? Because Jesus is already present within those who have denied their lower nature in order to experience the crucifixion and resurrection. This is also why Jesus could say that he was the resurrection and the life!
As Gaskell’s Dictionary of Scripture and Myth points out, it is the Pharisee-mind—dogmatism and literalism—that refuses to allow the Christ-mind to arise in us.
Can we now see how silly any debate is over the resurrection of Jesus is? It’s about raising our consciousness, not a belief in a doctrine. The need to hold onto a doctrine is the fulfillment of the ego.
We have one more post to go in our series on the esoteric Jesus. Thus far we have looked at his coming out of Egypt, his baptism, the transfiguration, crucifixion, and now the resurrection. I will close out this series with a brief post on Jesus’ ascension. Until then, blessings!