Month: May 2017

Getting Used to the Resurrection

Luke 24: 3-35

“Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him (him being Jesus, but they didn’t recognize him):
‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’
He asked them ‘What things?’ (don’t we all wish to do what Jesus is doing here? asking what people are saying about us when they don’t think we’re around.)
They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,’ (notice they are not quite ready to proclaim him as God just yet, they still don’t quite know what to think)
‘and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel'” (and here we realize why Jesus needed to die, in order to purge them of that simplistic human desire for impossible military domination).

Today all the scripture readings deal with disciples getting used to the Resurrection. Peter is his epistles in his usual plodding prose, explaining the most basic idea of our salvation being purchased with Jesus’ death (using that most tiresome synchdoche of his blood), and his resurrection representing a generalized victory over death; and then Peter again, that dense literalist, so full of flawed faith and that glorious ability to forgive himself, telling an early crowd of Jesus sect believers, that their Messiah was “this Jesus whom YOU crucified.” That point is at the heart of the whole story. It does not refer to that stupid and ridiculously self-serving idea that the “Jews” crucified Jesus and that somehow we Christians (Jesus and all the disciples were Jewish, you stupid fucks) should be mad at the Jews for that…God I hate that sort of logic because it rests so close to the Christian fundamentalist race-hatred of the worst of American religious conservativism…Anyway, the whole point is that YOU (which is to say WE), which is to say inevitably all human society tends to do this, we execute those who break up our comfortable conflicts, and that the insight that arises from the whole idea of salvation through Jesus’ suffering and death, is that we have to realize our own culpability in the sins of our society. We (like the denier Peter) do not escape culpability, and our salvation is in that realization and in that realization is new life. If we can just comprehend this, and that God acted on earth through this humble, humiliating, surprising, and unexpected life of Jesus, then we do not even have to believe in the resurrection literally. I’m not saying I don’t, I’m just saying that belief in a literal coming-back-to-life zombie Jesus is not necessary for Jesus’ death to be the key to our salvation, and therefore the source of new and eternal life. in fact, the disciples might just as well have invented Jesus’ resurrection just as a way to to escape their devastation after witnessing the traumatic horror of the crucifixion. They created an eternally living Jesus just by proclaiming his resurrection, and the very dubious claim that they alone were selected to see him after his death. It doesn’t matter if they were lying or not, the literalness of resurrection does not matter. What matters is that YOU (WE) put this gentle man to death whose preaching saved us from the eternal pointlessness of war as a solution to the problem of political oppression. Jesus lives in us and amongst us. The funny thing is that these moronic disciples walked with Jesus for SEVEN MILES and didn’t even realize it was him. They had only spent the last three years of their lives with him, idiots. And who the hell is Cleopas? I never heard of him. But here he is, telling the whole story of Jesus’ death, TO JESUS. And again, Cleopas makes the point that “OUR chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned”. The key to the act of faith of believing in Jesus’ resurrection is clearly also the admission of guilt, the REFUSAL to separate themselves in some sort of pure holier-than-thou, “we-didn’t-kill-him-you-did” hypocrisy, is what made Jesus’ death an act that could save them. They had to confront the total failure of their lives and faith in order to be liberated from mere religiosity. The whole story, about how they break bread with him and only finally realize who he is reminds me of Jesus’ statement that “when you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me”–referring to how these same disciples had ignored the poor and leprous etc. and that in those poor they should have seen Jesus (God) himself. Here again they don’t see him, they just see a clueless stranger tagging along (and they quietly thank their lucky stars that they didn’t just tell him to fuck off, they weren’t in the mood for going over the whole traumatic story again). They didn’t see him, and then finally they see him. Jesus again was teaching them that his resurrection was not about his zombie-body with nail holes in it and all was the point of his coming back to life, the point is that he is in all of humanity, all of whom are saved and purified with him, and that his eternal life is among all of us (the Holy Spirit for those of you who want to be dogmatic about it). We need to get used to the resurrection (and our culpability in the crucifixion), in order to find God’s promise of salvation through it, its literal zombie reality is not necessary.

Jesus saved us from the curse of fundamentalism and holy war, if we can only get used to the resurrection.