You Can't Escape God, 1978
The Crucifixion and Resurrection
CHRISTIANITY'S ACCOUNTS OF JESUS' CRUCIFIXION AND RESURRECTION have been the most emblazoned fundamentals of its theology for nearly 2000 years; nevertheless, only now -- for the first time in history -- has it become possible not only to corroborate the basic facts of this combination of events in the terms of modern science but also to set the related doctrines free from an admixture of errors and from widespread doubts, disbelief and simple confusion.
According to the New Testament, Jesus experienced earthly death by crucifixion but was restored to life by the third day thereafter. However, that two-part claim not only has been scoffed at by non-Christians but also has been a source of puzzlement even for a great many nominal Christians.
One dissent has theorized that Jesus was still alive when taken from the Cross, that he recovered sufficiently by natural processes to pretend he had experienced resurrection, and that although he may have continued to live for several days or years thereafter he ultimately met an ordinary death which was kept secret by his followers. An alternative dissent has held that Jesus really died by crucifixion but that some of his disciples stole his body, disposed of it in a secret manner, and then substituted an impostor to falsify the claim of resurrection.
One supplementary postulate of skeptics has been that Jesus, in an insane belief that he was God's Son, chose to be crucified in a demented expectation of resurrection. An alternative presumption has held that he was simply a political agitator who sought to foment a revolution by the Jews against their Roman rulers and that he experienced a permanent death as the penalty when he was finally but unexpectedly caught. A third view of skeptics has held that in the pursuit of revolutionary objectives he planned to fake a resurrection by arranging to be rescued from the Cross while still alive and that this scheme was foiled by a fatal spear-thrust that had not been anticipated.
As for the credibility of the Apostles, the supplementary postulates of the skeptics have taken three principal forms. The first of these has held that the chief followers of Jesus were participants in a pre-crucifixion plot to fake a resurrection. The second has suggested they were participants in a post-crucifixion plot for the same purpose -- either when it was discovered that Jesus, not having died on the Cross, could come forth from his tomb in a pretense of resurrection, or else when it was discovered that he had died without being resurrected an opportunity arose to substitute an impostor. A third alternative challenge has held that the Apostles were wholly sincere but gullible; that either they assumed erroneously that Jesus, in a brief continuing life on Earth followed by a secret death, had experienced resurrection when in reality he had simply escaped death on the Cross, or else that they were deceived by an impostor as having been Jesus himself. Further, the gullibility charge has been accompanied by a claim that either when Jesus secretly died after escaping death on the Cross or when an impostor for him subsequently disappeared, the Apostles simply assumed that Jesus has ascended to Heaven.
Of course, most doubters or disbelievers of the resurrection have not bothered to construct or examine the theoretical explanations of a non-resurrection. Instead, for most skeptics it has been sufficient that Man's age-old familiarity with the common characteristics of bodily death have seemed to make it abundantly clear that a bodily resurrection has ever been a physical impossibility -- to be believed only by fools, not by intelligent people.
Thus, although there have been critical defects in all of the anti-resurrection theories of "what really occurred" -- faults which the Christian Church has either failed to detect or which it has dealt with inadequately -- it is nevertheless a perceivable fact that not even the best of rebuttals aimed only at the dialectical flaws of such challenges would have sufficed to terminate the doubts or disbelief of the skeptics in the absence, until now, of any parallel means to explain scientifically the very process by which the resurrection was actually accomplished, thereby to refute the basic "impossibility" charge. Moreover, the Church's position has been complicated by the fact that in its past lack of any means to explain the actual process of the resurrection it has implied that Jesus had no need to use any means in accord with the physical laws of nature; that instead he used some "metaphysical" means to accomplish the most emblazoned phenomenon of Christian theology.
Hence, even in ancient times the claims of Jesus' resurrection were persuasive only to a minority of people who were willing to believe that God had no need to conform to the laws of nature, that he could reverse the death of Jesus merely by some magic snap of the fingers process. As for our science-minded modern World, an increasing number of people have concluded (correctly) that not even a God can perform any function contrary to the laws of nature; in other words, a majority of Mankind now takes the position that "We cannot believe that Jesus was resurrected unless we are shown in complete scientific detail how such a phenomenon was accomplished within the laws of nature."
Of course, the causes of doubts and disbelief concerning the Church's combined crucifixion-resurrection doctrine have tended to side-swipe all of the other portions of Christian theology on the grounds that if it is clearly wrong about this major item of its teachings it is just as likely to be in error concerning almost everything else that it sets forth. Hence, it was evident at the approach of the 21st century of the so-called "Christian Era" that if there were to continue to be a lack of a means to deduce and explain the actual process by which a resurrection of Jesus followed his sure death by crucifixion, the Church would have reached a stalemated condition rather than becoming increasingly successful in its claimed obligation to go forth and teach all nations.
On the other hand, it is equally certain that if our study succeeds -- as we now promise that it will do in this immediate chapter -- in deducing the actual physical process by which Jesus could and did achieve resurrection in full conformity to the knowledge of modern science and within the laws of nature, we shall thereby have rescued Christian theology from its greatest stumbling block. In more specific terms, we shall (A) have destroyed forever the basic contention of doubters and disbelievers that the resurrection was physically impossible. (B) We shall have destroyed forever any counter-claim that "even if it was possible it didn't really occur."
In other words, by an objective corroboration of the truth of the resurrection in the terms of modern science we shall have caused all of the anti-resurrection theories to collapse of their own emptiness -- showing them to have been merely false hypotheses of what could have been the case if the resurrection had not actually occurred. But although such an explaining of physical process of the resurrection will, even by itself alone, include a disposing of the postulated alternatives, the fact that these have been bruited about for centuries will impel us also to expose their critical defects even in the terms of ordinary refutative logic.
Accordingly, the remainder of this chapter will proceed in the following sequence, albeit allowing for some overlapping of its several portions:
1) A disclosure of new findings of enlarged significance in the events which specifically anticipated the crucifixion and the resurrection. 2) A presentation of newly amplified logic which, in terms of forensic medicine, will give the first full proof that Jesus really died on the Cross. 3) A presentation of newly amplified logic which, applying modern juridical tests of evidence, will give the first full proof that Jesus' body was not stolen. 4) A presentation of history's first recognition and explanation of the actual process of science by which the resurrection was surely accomplished. 5) Also, the irrefutable evidence of the perfect credibility of the Apostles. 5) A summary of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection, including an amplified rejection of the fallacy that Jesus died to "propitiate" his Father, an analysis of certain added phenomena which he displayed on the day of his resurrection, and an analysis of the corroborative reasons that he chose to die by crucifixion instead of, for example, by decapitation.
THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS WAS FORETOLD by himself on many occasions -- yet his followers quickly yielded to despair when it finally occurred.
Thus, on one occasion Jesus told the Apostles that "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down myself. This commandment have I received from my Father. Let us perceive, therefore, that in those phrases Jesus served three purposes. First, they not only foretold the crucifixion and resurrection but also showed that those events would be components of the vast plan for Mankind which had been instituted by his Father. Second, the words showed again that Jesus regarded only God as his Father. Third, it was made evident that Jesus intentionally contrived the circumstances which would cause his death by crucifixion to be inflicted upon him.
Likewise, on the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus gave bread to the Apostles and told them, "This is my body," and then gave them wine and told them, "This is my blood." In such manner, he symbolized the sacrifice he would make on the Cross on the following day.
So it was that the final phase of the pre-crucifixion arrangements began at the so-called "Last Supper" when Judas Iscariot, one of the original Twelve, departed from the assembled group to betray Jesus to the chief priests of the Jews. The details of Judas' departure show, however, that even the "betrayal" was an act responsive to divine contriving. Indeed, the signal for that departure was given by Jesus himself when he whispered to Judas, "That thou doest, do quickly." Significantly also, Judas' response was automatic. He hadn't been told of Jesus' hidden purposes which he would be serving in the events to follow. Hence, in his ignorance, Judas hurried away to lead a force of Temple police to a place where Jesus was subsequently found and arrested.
The priestly council, which made a payment in silver to Judas for his assistance, was in possession of a limited authority over the Jewish people, subject to the higher authority of Rome, and had long possessed informal evidence accusing Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be God's Son. The priests had not noted, apparently, the significance of the fact that Jesus had refrained from calling himself"co-God" and that he had insisted on his own inferiority to his Father; thus, Jesus had not violated the Hebrew truth of monotheism. Of course, the priests were also motivated by fears that because Jesus had been depicted as a "king," this might bring upon the Jewish people the wrath of their Roman captors. Thus, both on political and religious grounds, the priests wanted Jesus to be sentenced to a death penalty to be performed as quickly as possible. It was decided, however, that in asking the Roman governor Pontius Pilate to issue a death verdict it would be preferable to charge Jesus with blasphemy rather than subversion. Hence, the priests sought to formalize the blasphemy charge by giving Jesus a preliminary hearing before the Council itself.
Judas and the arresting officers found Jesus in a place called Gethsemane and it is significant what had transpired there shortly before that confrontation. Let us perceive, therefore, that although Jesus knew his resurrection and ascension had been divinely planned to follow his crucifixion, he was in need of another special reassurance. In the first place, his earthly brain had shuddered in anticipation of the pain of a crucifixion death. In his previous body in Heaven, he had never experienced pain. In the second place, although he had verified his own ability to perform miracles of healing, even the restoration of life for a man named Lazarus, Jesus knew that the restoration of life for his own earthly body would have to be entrusted to others than himself. Accordingly, in a prayer communication addressed to his Father, he asked: "If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt."
A part of the response to that prayer originated in Jesus himself. His words reminded him that the crucifixion was to be a component of the divine plan for Mankind which had been arranged even before he departed from Heaven for an earthly experience of life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and that there could be no escape from an acceptance of the crucifixion process. Even so, the prayer immediately obtained an additional response. Thus, as reported in Luke's Gospel, "There appeared an angel unto him from Heaven, strengthening him."
Let us note, therefore, that the arrival of the angel was, in effect, a follow-up to the response which Jesus received when he prayed on the earlier occasion of his transfiguration. At that earlier event it had been Moses and Elias who bodily arrived to bring assurances to Jesus. Hence, as we have earlier noted, it is apparent that at the transfiguration, Jesus' earthly being needed visual evidence that earthly bodies as well as those of heavenly beings could travel both directions between Heaven and Earth. In contrast, the visit of the angel at Gethsemane shows that Jesus needed also a message that his death itself should still be regarded as a necessity and that it would need to be by the process of crucifixion. In addition, however, it is evident that Jesus also wanted reassurance -- a final double-check on the eve of his crucifixion -- that a task force of angels was fully in readiness to perform the process by which his resurrection was to be accomplished. We perceive, therefore, why an angel was better fitted than Moses or Elias would have been to serve Jesus' needs on the Gethsemane occasion.
Thus, it is an obvious further deduction that the angel who "strengthened" Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion was one of the two (or three) who were to be responsible for the application of the resurrection process. In other words, we perceive that the message of the angel was in two parts. The first simply corroborated the awareness of Jesus himself that the pains of crucifixion would need to be endured. The second part, however, as we now deduce also, must have said in effect: "Be assured that our task force of angels is ready and waiting to perform the process by which your resurrection will surely be successfully accomplished."
Apprehended at Gethsemane by the Council's officers when he was pointed out to them by Judas, Jesus was taken as a captive to a hearing by the priests where the decision was reached to request the Roman authorities to impose a death sentence upon him. Hence, the captors of Jesus delivered him to the court of Pilate. However, because Jesus was known as a Galilean, Pilate had him taken before Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee.
Initially, neither Herod nor Pilate was deeply interested in a case they were inclined to regard as involving only a religious squabble of the Jews. Hence, Herod merely subjected Jesus to ridicule and then sent him back to Pilate. At that point, however, the accusers of Jesus revised their strategy. They told Pilate that Jesus had called himself a king; thereby they implied that the prisoner had sought to foment rebellion against Rome. Questioned by Pilate, Jesus did not deny a kingly status but said that his kingdom was not of this World.
Thus, subjecting him to a mockery in which soldiers decked the prisoner in a purple robe and placed a crown of thorns on his head. Then, as the mob continued to demand the death of Jesus, Pilate said that Jews could do the crucifying themselves. Reminded that Roman law allowed the death penalty to be applied only by Roman force, Pilate still sought a compromise.
At this point, however, one of the mob leaders shouted to Pilate, "If thou let this man go, thou are not Caesar's friend!" It was a threat directed against Pilate himself. Thus, lest someone should make it appear to Caesar that Pilate as well as Jesus was guilty of an affront to Roman rule, Pilate then delivered Jesus to a detail of Roman soldiers to perform the crucifixion which the mob had demanded.[From "Jesus a Reolutionary Bigraphy" by John Dominic Crossan one gets a clear view that Pilate had lost his mentor, the #2 man in Rome, who was assassinated by the Emperor and he was therefore not anxious to have any criticism of being soft on anyone who claimed to be King of anything]
Obviously, during the trial none of those who participated in getting Jesus sentenced to be crucified realized he truly was God's Son. Yet, soon thereafter, Judas awakened to a realization of the inglorious role that he personally had performed. Even so, as Jesus had realized, no subsequent explanation of the status of Judas as having been merely a pawn in a program that had been divinely arranged would have been persuasive enough to prevent the supposedly dissident Apostle from being treated as an outcast by his contemporaries among Jews and Christians alike; thus, his continued life on Earth would have been intolerable.
"Woe unto the man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed," Jesus had warned, and this has been misunderstood to have meant that Judas' soul was condemned to Hell. In contrast, as our logic here is not the first to perceive, the "woe" mentioned by Jesus referred only to the anguish which Judas experienced in his few remaining hours on Earth. What is now apparent in terms of modern science is simply that, even as Gabriel had hypnotized Zacharias, Jesus had hypnotized Judas to perform the act of "betrayal." Indeed, as previously noted herein, Jesus himself uttered the words that triggered the response he desired the hypnotized Judas to perform.
Thus, almost as soon as Judas escaped from hypnosis he paused only long enough to restore to the priests the bribery money he had received from them. In effect, this returning was an act of contrition; more importantly, however, it was also symbolic of an innocence which even Judas did not comprehend. Then Judas committed suicide by hanging. Hence, because he had been merely an automaton controlled by Jesus himself, and because there was no way to prevent him from being treated as an outcast, it is apparent that Judas was divinely allowed to use the quickest and simplest method to escape from the grief he had already experienced and from the "woe" that otherwise would still have been to come, and that his soul thereupon went not to Hell but rather to Heaven.
THAT JESUS TRULY MET DEATH BY CRUCIFIXION will be fully corroborated now as we apply new logic in the style of modern forensic medicine in a preliminary refutation of the charges by skeptics that he was rescued from the Cross while still alive and able to pretend a subsequent resurrection.
The facts that testify that Jesus' earthly body was surely dead before it was removed from the Cross to which it had been nailed begin with the evidence of his physical condition even at the time the sentence for his execution was pronounced. Obviously, he had been kept from sleep for at least thirty hours. He had been forced to walk from Gethsemane to the meeting place of the priests, thence to Pilate's court, thence to Herod's, and finally back to Pilate again. He had been shoved and jostled. He had been scourged until he bled. He had surely been given nothing to eat and probably not even a drink of water. Thus, Jesus was near physical collapse even before the death march to the place called Golgotha began. Moreover, he was forced to begin that journey carrying the heaven wooden beam to which his hands or wrists would be nailed. Hence, Jesus fell so many times during that trip from physical exhaustion alone that the officer who commanded the crucifixion detail finally compelled a bystander to carry the beam a part of the distance.
We can be confident that some of the mob who had demanded the death of Jesus by crucifixion were present when it was inflicted. Of Jesus' followers present it was reported there were only two; one of those was Mary whose womb had brought his earthly body into existence while the other was the Apostle John who had come along to take care of her. The other Apostles were absent because their imperfect logic could not reconcile the impending crucifixion of Jesus with his teaching that he was God's Son.
At Golgotha, because two thieves were also to be crucified on this occasion, it is probable that the vertical components of three crosses were already in position when Jesus and his captors arrived. The basic technique of crucifixion had been devised chiefly by the ancient Phoenicians who had experimented with numerous means of causing sure death while making it especially painful and protracted. The Romans, adding few innovations, sometimes used a cross perhaps twenty feet high, called the crux sublimus, for persons deemed of high importance; for others, they used a short cross, called a crux humilis. Thus, the one used for Jesus was probably no more than twelve feet high -- from ground level to top.
The most probable method of beginning the crucifixion of Jesus can be easily deduced. First, he was forced to the ground, face upward, while the chief executioner drove a nail through each of his hands or wrists at the opposite ends of the horizontal component of the cross. Two or more soldiers then lifted that beam, dragging Jesus to a standing position. Another push raised the beam until its center slipped into a notch at a high point on one of the vertical poles. Then the soldiers must have grasped Jesus; ankles, pushing his legs to bend them at the knees. This permitted his feet to rest, probably side by side and probably on a sloping ledge affixed to the vertical pole. Meantime, a sign had been mounted at the top of the cross. It said: "The King of the Jews." These were the words that Pilate had chosen to support the sham that Jesus was condemned for Roman treason rather than for Jewish blasphemy.
According to custom, some women offered the three being crucified a drink of wine but Jesus refused their offer. Later, however, as he writhed in pain, his nearly naked body exposed to wind and sun, he spoke of thirst. Yet, when one of the soldiers poured some wine on a sponge and thrust it against Jesus' lips, this also was rejected. We note, of course, that anti-Christians have theorized that Jesus used one of these opportunities to swallow some narcotic which caused him to appear dead quickly so he could be removed from the Cross while still alive. In contrast, our later logic not only will show that such deception was neither attempted nor would have been effective but also will show Jesus' reasons for rejecting even a mere alleviation of the pains of the crucifixion process.
At a later moment of anguish, Jesus was heard faintly uttering the words, "My God, My God; Why has thou forsaken me?" Hence, because it was assumed by the New Testament writers that the mention of those words would suffice -- like a title -- to show that Jesus was simply reciting the Twenty-second Psalm, anti-Christians have overlooked that fact have charged he was shown by the few words thus quoted to have been escaping a delusion of divinity and that he was lamenting the unhappy circumstances in which he had unexpectedly found himself. In contrast, the real significance of Jesus' choice of that particular psalm is in the fact that, closing in a mood of triumph, it says: "Men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generations; men proclaim his deliverance (or righteousness) to a "people yet unborn."
At last, the time for Jesus' ultimate surrender to the death of his earthly body arrived. "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," he said. Then,"It is finished!" he added. Thus, Jesus chose even the moment which modern medicine calls the state of "clinical death." By choosing to halt his body's automatic struggles for an escape from or for a postponement of death, he allowed death-by-starvation to overtake a critical number of the cells of his heart. Hence, as he knew, a similar death would quickly follow for his earthly brain and for other parts of his body. He also knew, however, his soul-cell was immune to death; thus, it was specifically his "spirit" (i.e., his soul) which he committed to God.
Now to examine the pathology of death by crucifixion we begin by noting that as long as a person being crucified could endure a temporary increase of pain in his nailed feet so as to use his legs to push his body upward, the chest muscles would cause his lungs to inhale and exhale almost normally. The increased agony in the feet, however, could be endured only for diminishing durations. Hence, each time this pain because unendurable the victim would allow his body to sag so that part of his weight was shifted from feet and legs to the muscles of arms and torso. Yet, in such a sagged position, the muscles of arms, shoulder, and chest would soon experience spasms which likewise could be endured for diminishing durations. Thus, as the victim alternated between upward and downward positions he grew steadily weaker until it finally became impossible to re-lift himself from the downward position. In that position, however, the chest cage was suspended from above by fatigued muscles stretched to their limit while inside the torso the weight of the abdomen dragged the diaphragm downward. As a consequence, the opposing forces made it impossible for the lungs to exhale the oxygen-depleted air within them.
In turn, the termination of respiration would be followed by the death of a critical number of the cells of the heart and although this organ might continue briefly to yield a few more irregular and far-apart beats its own death would be preceded by the starvation-death of the cells of the victim's brain. In other words, within about five minutes after the victim had totally ceased to recover from the non-breathing position his heart ceased to perform an adequate life-sustaining function and within no more than five minutes after his heart reached that condition the cells of his brain entered also the death condition. Hence, when the body of a crucifixion victim slumped to the downward position, with abdomen sagged and motionless, and when those conditions continued for as long as ten minutes any witnesses of a crucifixion were thereby made visually certain that the decisive conditions of the victim's death had surely occurred.
The Romans often used a supplementary process to hasten the onset of the final stage of death by crucifixion. They did this by application of the crurifragium, the breaking of the bones of a victim's legs. This stopped the victim from pushing his body upward from the suffocation position. Hence, the fact that the soldiers broke the legs of the two crucified thieves while the legs of Jesus were left unbroken has led some persons to charge that this circumstances shows there was some connivance to permit him to be removed from the Cross while still alive, capable of later staging a pretended resurrection.
The first stage of the logic which refutes that charge considers whether anyone capable of aiding in a life-rescue of Jesus would have dared to render such assistance. Thus, we note there were only two persons in a position to have connived effectively for such a purpose; these were Pilate and the centurion who commanded the crucifixion detail. Yet, it is obvious there could have been no such conniving by the Roman governor. He had sentenced Jesus to protect himself from the risk of being charged with disloyalty to Caesar. Thus, Pilate's own safety required him to be certain that Jesus really died. Likewise, there could have been no conniving by the centurion. Roman discipline was too strict and its punishments were too severe for this officer to have allowed the removal of Jesus from the Cross alive. Moreover, the centurion and his fellow soldiers knew that Pilate's need for this execution to be certain was so great that any premature report of Jesus' death would be exposed to a hazard that the governor might go to Golgotha to see for himself.
The second stage of our response to the charge that Jesus was still alive when taken from the Cross will employ the forensic techniques used by prosecution and defense attorneys in the conducting of a modern murder trial. Thus, in particular, we shall examine the time-factors that were involved while Jesus was suspended on the Cross and while his body was being taken to a nearby tomb.
Accordingly, this time analysis begins by noting that the Jewish priests had wanted all three victims to be dead early enough to permit removal of their bodies by sundown on the same day that they were crucified. Hence, the priests asked Pilate to permit the crurifragium to be applied early enough to accomplish that objective. Likewise, Pilate received a request from Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin and head of a prominent Sadducean family, for permission to remove the body of Jesus in advance of sundown and for it to be placed in a sepulcher which had been constructed to receive ultimately the body of Joseph himself.
The details of Joseph's request are best supplied by a composite of the Gospels of John and Mark. These make it clear that Joseph visited Golgotha before the crurifragium was applied to the thieves and before his own visit-of-request to Pilate. Thus, it was Joseph who first reported to Pilate that Jesus was surely dead. This means that Joseph must have known of the certainty of that death by the testimony of his own eyes. Otherwise he would not have dared to risk making a premature report of the death of Jesus for fear of subjecting himself to a Roman accusation of a treacherous attempt to thwart Pilate's intention. Moreover, we can know that Joseph was the one to report the death because it was Pilate's surprise at being so informed by Joseph which caused the governor to send a messenger to Golgotha to summon the centurion either to affirm or deny Joseph's report.
On arrival at Pilate's quarters, however, the centurion did confirm what Joseph had said. We can know this because the crurifragium was not applied to the thieves until after the centurion returned to Golgotha. Thus, if the crurifragium had been earlier applied it would have included Jesus and in such case Pilate would not have been surprised when the death of Jesus was reported by Joseph; instead, Pilate would have known that all three of the victims were already dead.-- whereas, in fact, the thieves did not die until later.
Despite Pilate's surprise at the early death of Jesus, however, he did perceive that the Roman governor, the centurion, and Joseph -- all three of them -- recognized that the death of Jesus had preceded their conference with Joseph and the centurion knew it because they had seen that Jesus had remained incapable of breathing for much longer than the time required to prove his death was certain. Pilate also knew it because he realized that neither Joseph nor the centurion would have dared to falsify such a report to him in the face of a possibility that he might go to Golgotha to see for himself. So it was at the same time that Pilate consented to the surrender of Jesus' body to Joseph that the governor also consented to an application of the crurifragium to any of the condemned men who were not already dead.
Thus, from the foregoing facts we now supply Christian theology with a time-table of the related events such as is used in capital cases in modern courtrooms. This table will show how considerable was the period between the time when Jesus was seen by Joseph and the centurion to have entered finally the bodily death-position on the Cross and the time when his body was removed, then taken to the sepulcher which Joseph provided. Later in this chapter, of course, we shall fulfill our promise to prove-by-explanation both the fact and the process of Jesus' resurrection -- thereby showing there was no need to falsify his death such as might have been part of a scheme in case a faked resurrection had been intended. More immediately, however, we shall deal directly with the initial challenge of skeptics that he was still alive when taken from the Cross and placed in the sepulcher. Thus, our forensic time table will begin with the moment when Jesus slumped for the last time into the fatal position of suffocation, with reasonably estimated durations of the succeeding relevant events.
Item : Joseph observes Jesus in death position long enough to be certain the victim's earthly body is surely dead -- 15 minutes. Item: Joseph walks from Golgotha to Pilate's office -- 15 minutes. Item: Pilate is summoned, hears Joseph's report and request, and asks questions -- 5 minutes. Item: Pilate summons a messenger who rides to Golgotha to summon the centurion -- 5 minutes. Item: The centurion rides from Golgotha to Pilate's office -- 5 minutes. Item: The centurion, having seen Jesus in the death position for at least 40 minutes, confirms the certainty of the death and answers Pilate's questions; also, the governor grants Joseph's petition for immediate possession of Jesus' body and authorizes the crurifragium for the not yet dead thieves -- 5 minutes. Item: A soldier breaks the legs of the two thieves but reports of Jesus that "This one is already dead," even as the centurion had already known; hence, the legs of Jesus are left unbroken. However, another soldier thrusts a spear into Jesus' side and some blood and water flow from the wound -- 5 minutes.
Thus, as we now perceive, Jesus had been known to be dead for some 55 minutes by the time the crurifragium was applied to the thieves -- at least five times as long as was needed for the witnesses to know that his death was certain. Moreover, the fact that only a little blood came from the wound made by the spear shows that the heart of Jesus had ceased beating earlier.
Meanwhile, as the centurion began his ride returning to Golgotha, Joseph had hastened to some shop to purchase linen cloth in which to wrap the body of Jesus. Also in this period, Joseph had encountered Nicodemus, a Pharisee, who volunteered to help in removing the body from the Cross and in preparing it to be placed in the sepulcher. Thus, our time table must be extended to include some additional events.
Item: Joseph buys cloth and waits for Nicodemus to obtain a quantity of myrrh and aloes for application to Jesus' body -- 10 minutes. Item: Joseph and Nicodemus walk to Golgotha, carrying the linen and spices -- 15 minutes. Item: They extract the nails from Jesus' feet, then lift down the beam to which his hands or wrists are still nailed, lowering the beam and the body to the ground where they remove the final nails -- 10 minutes. Item: They carry the body of Jesus perhaps 15 yards to the waiting sepulcher -- 5 minutes.
Thus, as we now further perceive, by the time body of Jesus had been taken to the tomb that body had been dead ten times as long as was necessary to know that its death was certain.
Of course, some men have been noted to simulate death for similar periods or longer. Thus, anti-resurrectionists have charged that Jesus induced in himself a trance-like condition to feign a quick death by receiving some unidentified narcotic on one of the other times when he was offered wine while he hung on the Cross. In total refutation of that charge, however, let us note four irrefutable facts. First, the simulators of death are successful only in highly favorable circumstances; they could not relax and pretend death if they were nailed to a Cross. Second, for reasons to be dealt with later, Jesus wanted Mankind to become able to perceive that he chose to reject any means even for a mere alleviation of the pain he experienced; thus, he made his rejection of the proffered wine too obvious for it to be overlooked. Third, no form of sedation even with modern medicines would allow life to continue in a body when respiration has been totally halted at least five or ten times as long as the five or ten minutes which is certain to cause critical organs of the body to perish of nutritional and oxygenic starvation. Fourth, Jesus had no need to pretend death by some subterfuge when he already knew the certainty of his forthcoming resurrection; even the detailed process by which it would be achieved.
Moreover, even if we postulate the impossible -- that some life still remained in Jesus' body after it had been carried to the sepulcher -- there will would have remained no possibility of any contrived process of resuscitation succeeding. This would have been impossible even if all the wonders of modern medicine had been available for Jesus' followers to apply. Obviously, for example, there was no electrical current to shock a stopped heart into renewed action; nor was there any chemical stimulant to inject as an alternative procedure. No tanks of oxygen stood by to refill the lungs. No means existed to transfuse fresh blood as an additive into Jesus' veins. Besides, even if such facilities had been available they could not have restored the brain cells which had long since become incapable of any response of human ministrations.
Hence, even if we were not also to perceive in a later portion of this chapter the very process by which Jesus' resurrection from death was actually accomplished, we still would find the evidence which our studies has already adduced to be irrefutable as proof not only that his earthly body was truly dead as a consequence of his crucifixion but also that he was just as far beyond any capability for a restoration of life by any process available to human powers as would be any other earthly body in this earthly death condition.
THE THEORY THAT JESUS' BODY WAS STOLEN, allowing for an impostor to fake a resurrection, has likewise always been as full of holes as a culinary sieve.
Nevertheless, the postulate of such a theft has been widely acclaimed as true by doubters and disbelievers of Christian theology for reasons herein already implied or cited. Hence, although a later potion of this chapter, by showing the actual process by which Jesus did triumph over earthly death, will itself explode the body-snatching theory, we shall presently refute it more directly by simply testing the truth of the Bible's related testimony in a modern juridical manner.
Of course, the postulate that Jesus' body was stolen would be almost meaningless as a challenge to Christian doctrine except by being hitched to a companion theory that such a theft was followed by the substitution of an impostor who faked a resurrection from death. However, in the immediate section of this chapter we shall deal only with the theft aspect of the total challenge, leaving the question of an impostor to be dealt with in later pages where we shall be analyzing the events that occurred at the time the resurrection fact was discovered.
Let us now proceed, therefore, by initially noting that the sepulcher to which the body was taken was simply a small chamber dug into the side of a hill. Its interior was probably as much as five feet high but its entrance was small enough to be closed by rolling a wheel-shaped stone across it. Thus, Joseph and Nicodemus must have laid their burden down outside the tomb at first to wash away whatever blood and grime that had collected on the body. Meantime, some of the women followers of Jesus had also arrived with spices and ointments to supplement the myrrh and aloes which Nicodemus had provided. Presumably some of the myrrh was applied to the wounds to prevent further oozing of blood while the spices were sprinkled among the windings of the linen cloth as it was wrapped around the body.
Those preparations for a temporary interment were hurried because sundown was near; it would mark the beginning of the Sabbath when Jews retired to the privacy of their homes. Thus, as soon as the body had been suitably prepared it was carried into the tomb and laid upon a flat slab of stone. Then, before the men departed, they pushed the wheel-shaped closure across the entrance. This rolling door must have weighed more than 200 pounds but to reach a closed position it moved in a downward-inclined direction. A much greater push would later be needed, however, when the stone would be rolled upward on the same incline to open the tomb again.
Next let us note that on the day following the crucifixion a delegation of the Jewish priests asked Pilate to place a Roman guard at the tomb to prevent any possibility of the theft of the body. Pilate told them they could place a guard of their own. Hence, the guards who did stand duty were Jews rather than Romans and were surely respectful, even fearful, of priestly authority.
Let us perceive, therefore, that if a plot had existed to steal the body of Jesus the plotters would have found their first favorable opportunity to do so in the first night of the interment, before the guarding began. But if the body had been stolen so quickly the emptiness of the tomb would have been discovered as soon as the guards arrived. Instead, they found the tomb closed; moreover, they placed a special seal on its door. Thus, because the tomb was not found open until many hours after the guards arrived, any theft of the body -- if there had been one -- would have had to occur while the detail of watchers were on duty. Obviously, if the body had been stolen and the tomb closed again before the guards arrived the body-snatchers would not have returned to re-open the tomb after the guards were present.
On the other hand, if the body had been stolen while the guards were sleeping, as they and the priests subsequently contended, this would have been supported by several kinds of directly related evidence. Instead, we find it refuted by such evidence on several grounds.
First, the only possible motivation for a body-theft would have been for a subsequent deception. Yet, as will be amplified later in our study, the Apostles could not have been deceived by an impostor and their lives subsequently proved they were not participants in an intentional deception.
Second, if a plot had existed to steal the body for a subsequent substitution of an impostor, the theft would not have been attempted while the guards were on duty because it would have been desirably free from risk and just as effective to have waited a few days until the guards were withdrawn; then to have made a false claim of a resurrection. Indeed, even the fact that Jesus had promised to rise from death in three days could have been easily circumvented by simply making a delayed announcement of it. Certainly the risk would have been too great for a body-snatching to have been even attempted merely in the unreliable hope that none of the guards would awaken from the sleep which they later claimed to have allowed the alleged theft to be accomplished.
Third, the condition of the guards when the emptiness of the tomb was discovered and their subsequent treatment at the hands of the Sanhedrin are testimony that something other than a body-snatching had actually occurred. Thus, even if the New Testament didn't include a statement that the guards said their sleeping had allowed the body to be stolen, we would know that such an alibi would have been made for two reasons. One of these was, of course, that because the priests were incapable of believing a resurrection had occurred, it was necessary for them to issue a counter-claim; hence, the stolen-body story was circulated by the priests as being wholly obvious and the only possible true account of what had really happened. Moreover, the guards (just beginning to recover from having been knocked unconscious by a shock of electronic force, as will be explained later in this chapter) really thought they were simply awakening from sleep when they were questioned by the priests. In other words, it is highly significant that, in mentioning there were angels present when the empty tomb was discovered, the Bible's description of that scene records that because of fear of those visitors from Heaven the guards "did shake and become as dead men" -- even though the Apostles didn't know the cause of that behavior.
Fourth, even if the Bible didn't say so, we could know that the Sanhedrin, instead of punishing the guards for a supposed dereliction of duty, gave them bribe money to cling to their story that the body was stolen while they were asleep. We can know this because it is obvious that the priests were frantic in their fear that, unless the resurrection claim was shown to be false, it would cause a major error to enter into the Hebrew religion. Hence, it is obvious that for the sake of their well intentioned desire to protect their religion from accepting Jesus as God's Son, the priests thought it desirable to nullify any chance that, if the guards were punished instead of being rewarded, they might later tell some different story which might leave a loop-hole favorable to the claim of resurrection.
Fifth, we also note that if the priests had been less anxious to support the stolen body story they not only would have imposed punishment on the guards but also would have had a record made of this act to serve as future evidence which would seem to show their position had been of unprejudiced sincerity. Hence, because there is no record in Jewish or Roman annals of the guards having been punished -- despite the momentous nature of the resurrection controversy and the plentiful records of the experiences of sundry false Messiahs -- we find this omission is a collateral substantiation of the New Testament record that the Sanhedrin not only refrained from imposing such punishment but rather went to the opposite extreme of bribing the guards in support of the story that the body was stolen while they were asleep.
Thus, even by ordinary juridical standards of evidence the proof is clear that the body of Jesus was not stolen, creating an opportunity for an impostor to be substituted for him. In the following section of this chapter, moreover, we shall not only show the very process by which the resurrection was actually accomplished but also shall thereby show there was no need for any scheme to steal the body as a means of subsequently faking a resurrection.
THAT JESUS WAS TRULY RESURRECTED FROM DEATH, as asserted in the Bible but disbelieved or doubted by many persons, will be corroborated now by deducing for the first time in theological history the scientific explanation of the life-restoration process that was actually applied.
Let us proceed, therefore, by initially relating the pertinent events of the day of resurrection in the words of the New Testament itself. Thus, as we blend together the accounts of the Scriptures, we note that two or three of the women followers of Jesus were the first visitors at his tomb on the third day of the crucifixion-resurrection sequence. Arriving at about daybreak, they found its sealed stone closure had been rolled away and that the tomb was empty. Then, says Matthew, the women saw an angel nearby, and that he had "descended from Heaven . . . . and (had) rolled back the stone." Indeed, he was sitting upon it, and "his countenance was like lightning and his raiment white as snow, and for fear of him the keepers did shake and become as dead men." Mark's Gospel says the women saw "a young man" and that he was "clothed in a long white garment." Luke's Gospel says the women saw "two men . . . . in shining garments." John's Gospel says Mary Magdalene saw "two angels in white."
That the "man" or "men" mentioned by Mark and Luke were correctly identified as an angel or angels by Matthew and John is, however, fully evident in the fact that the guards would not have trembled in fear of ordinary men. Moreover, a further corroboration that there were two, not one, and that they were angels, not men, will be supplied as our analysis proceeds. Meantime, the fact that Matthew mentions a "countenance like lightning" and that all four Gospels mention that the garments of the strangers were "white" or "shining" gives us a preliminary hint not only of the reason that the guards cowered and were befuddled but also concerning the process by which the resurrection had been accomplished.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke agree that one of the angels spoke to the women, telling them that Jesus "is not here, for he is risen." All three of these Gospels further agree that the angels said Jesus would be found in Galilee (about 40 miles to the north of Jerusalem) but this message didn't say when. However, the Scriptures also show that Jesus had not yet departed from the vicinity of the tomb. Thus, as the women started to leave, says Matthew, "behold, Jesus met them, saying 'All hail!' and they came and held him by the feet and worshiped him." To Mary Magdalene, however, Jesus had earlier uttered an imperative warning: "Touch me not!" Thus, we shall examine the previously unrecognized significance of this utterance later.
Mark says that after Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene she reported this to the Apostles and that they "when they had heard he was alive and had been seen by her, believed not." According to Luke, the women who saw Jesus at the tomb reported their experience to the Apostles who regarded these reports as "idle tales." However, Peter finally became aroused and "ran unto the sepulcher, and stooping down, he beheld the linen cloths laid by themselves, and departed, wondering at that which had come to pass." In other words, the Apostles initially shared in Mankind's conventional view that a resurrection of an earthly body was simply impossible -- even though Jesus had told them he would rise from death.
Apparently Jesus did not tarry long near the tomb. Thus, a little later the same day, according to Luke, two of the disciples encountered him on the road near Emmaus, several miles from Jerusalem, apparently heading for Galilee, but did not immediately recognize him. However, when the three sat down for a meal, Jesus "took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them," whereupon "their eyes were opened and they knew him." Immediately thereafter, however, he "vanished from their sight." This incident makes it evident that Jesus, having found that the Apostles had not started to Galilee, decided to return to Jerusalem.
Thus, when the same two disciples returned to Jerusalem the same day and told the Eleven of their Emmaus experience, suddenly Jesus "stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you!' Then, as the group reacted as though they were looking at a ghost, Jesus said, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have." John's Gospel tells of another occasion, eight days later, when the Apostle Thomas -- who had been particularly dubious of the identity of the post-resurrection Jesus -- was told by Jesus to "reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless but believing."
Following the resurrection, Jesus remained on Earth for several weeks and during this time he did go to Galilee where he was repeatedly or continuously in personal contact with the Apostles. However, we shall defer a study of this extended post-resurrection period until the following chapter. Presently we shall be concerned only with matters immediately pertaining to the resurrection itself.
Thus, the central question that now confronts us is simply this: What is the explanation in the terms of modern science that will show and prove the process by which the resurrection of Jesus not only was possible but also by which it was actually accomplished -- the ultimate refutation to all of the theories which have been offered in denial of the truth of the resurrection?
Let us begin our response to that question by noting there have been three outstanding clues to the answer that were provided in the specifically related details of the New Testament, and which have been waiting for centuries for a modern science to become sufficiently advanced to recognize the significance of them. First, there was the presence of the angels at the tomb and their "shining" (i.e., radiant) appearance. Second, there was the dazed and fearful condition of the guards. Third, there were the words of Jesus warning Mary Magdalene to "Touch me not!"
It is obvious, of course, that the radiant beings at the tomb were really angels. This is shown by the fact of their radiance itself. It is also shown by the extreme fear displayed by the guards and by their dazed condition which has clearly suggested that they were still recovering from some painful experience which the angels had inflicted upon them. In turn, it is clear that Jesus' warning to Mary Magdalene involved some circumstance akin to God's warning Moses not to approach too close to the burning bush. Moreover, it is apparent that the angels were present not as mere spectators; that whatever was done by which the resurrection was accomplished, they were the ones who actually did it.
Thus, now to perceive what it was that was actually done, let us proceed by recalling that in earthly death it is only the common cells of the body which die -- while the soul-cell survives. But whereas the human soul-cell cannot return to a corpse, or remain within it, we deduce that the soul-cell of Jesus did remain within or near his body, following his crucifixion, because all of his other cells even in death contained a residue of their normal content of the Holy Spirit so that his soul-cell, instead of being propelled to a great distance from his body by forces of electronic repulsion was still subject to the residual force of attraction from his ordinary cells.
Next, let us note that when we speak of the death of an ordinary body we are referring to a condition which signifies the death individually of each of its trillions of cells, even though they do not die simultaneously. Moreover, the death of an individual cell means that some of its millions of electronic particles have escaped under conditions in which they cannot be replaced by the normal nutritional process or by any other process available to human technology. Yet, it is obvious that most of the particles remain within most of the cells even when the body as a whole has lost its living condition; that is why there still remains a corpse even when its vital cells have ceased to function.
We further note, therefore, that in the death of Jesus' earthly body there did remain a corpse composed of trillions of depleted and non-functioning cells. This means that the resurrection required only an intake of new electronic particles in a number sufficient to fill the gaps in the depleted cells. Yet, a filling of those gaps could not be accomplished by the process that a living body uses to replenish living cells -- with the needed new particles being extracted by the digestive system from food and then being distributed to all cells through the body's blood-stream.
There was, however, a different way that new electronic particles could be sent into the cells of the dead body of Jesus. Thus, by drawing on the knowledge of modern science in conjunction with sundry theological evidence already set forth, we now deduce an inescapable conclusion that the process by which the resurrection of Jesus was achieved consisted of a radiated penetration of his body by billions of electronic particles of the Holy Spirit which entered into his depleted cells as replacements for ordinary particles which had been lost in the previous process of dying.
In turn, there is ample evidence in the Bible to make clear the means by which those quantities of the Holy Spirit were supplied. Thus, we further deduce that the supply of Holy Spirit particles which restored life to the body of Jesus was brought to his tomb as a "super charge" which had been loaded into the bodies of the angels who still were present when his triumph over death was first discovered.
Thus, it cannot be surprising that the countenance of one of the angels was described as "like lightning" and that even their garments were radiant. The fact was simply that the angels, when first seen at the discovery of the resurrection, were still discharging a radiance -- because they had brought with them in their bodies a greater quantity of the Holy Spirit than the resurrection process had actually used.
In turn, it is easy to deduce the successive steps by which those angels had performed their life-restorative function. They had first struck the guards with bolts of radiant energy, sending the victims reeling in a temporary paralysis which left them befuddled -- much as sometimes occurs in our modern World in cases of severe but non-fatal electrical shocks. Thus, it is no wonder that the guards continued hours later to "shake and become as dead men" in their fear of the still-present angels, and were incoherent in their reports of what had happened. Likewise, it is no wonder that the guards thought of their temporary period of unconsciousness as a time when they had been sleeping.
What the angels did next is equally made certain by our proof-by-logic hitched to the related evidence. They laid their hands upon the body of Jesus and through these points of contact there passed from them and into him the quantities of the Holy Spirit which restored his cells to a living condition. In other words, the dead body of Jesus was "fed" by a radiation process which applied the same principles that he had repeatedly used to heal infirmities (i.e., dead portions) of the living bodies of ordinary humans. Thus, by using the angels as carriers and dispensers of the Holy Spirit, Jesus' body was restored to life by supplying it with the same nutritional substance which also accounts for bodily immortality in Heaven.
Further, we can now perceive why Jesus told Mary Magdalene to "touch me not." His body was temporarily so over-supplied with a massive healing content of the Holy Spirit that had she touched him her own bodily cells would have given her the same bodily longevity which had been experience by those who were exposed to vast residues of the Holy Spirit in or near the Garden of Eden many centuries earlier. Moreover, it is implicit that Jesus still needed to retain all of the Holy Spirit that was then within him because his own healing was not yet complete -- a conclusion which further informs us why he was not readily recognized early on the day of his resurrection.
There were probably two overlapping stages in the process which preceded the exit of Jesus from the tomb. In the first stage, the particles of the Holy Spirit must have entered deficient cells almost at random, and one of their first effects must have simply been a lifting of the body's temperature to the level of cellular health. Then, some of the particles must have reliquified the body's congealed blood. Others must have reactivated cells at the edges of his wounds where new tissue then began to form. Still other particles must have entered the cells of the brain. Thus, although his brain cells could not have received replacement particles in adequate quantity to restore them by a blood-flow process, they could receive sufficient restorative quantities of Holy Spirit particles that were delivered by radiation. Then, in a second stage of the resurrection process, one or more of the intaken particles must have delivered a shock to the pace-maker cells of the repaired heart, if that was necessary, too restart it performing its normal functions. In turn, with his blood circulating again, the whole body of Jesus thus quickly reached a stage of advanced convalescence, the condition which characterized him when he first stepped from from the tomb.
Let us perceive, therefore, that although Jesus' triumph over death was accomplished within the three days he had allotted for it, the healing process administered by the angels had covered a period of hardly more than a mere six hours. Obviously, they had not arrived on the scene earlier than the midnight which began the day of resurrection. Likewise, it is sure that the women who found him with his life restored had arrived at the sepulcher not later than first daybreak. Thus, it is constructively significant that his wounds were not completely healed when he first emerged from the tomb -- because this shows that, although the resurrection had required divinely arranged assistance, it had used a physical rather than a "metaphysical" process. In other words, the credibility of the resurrection would have been subject to doubt in the terms of modern science if it had been claimed, to the contrary, to have been an instantaneous achievement.
In turn, the convalescent condition of Jesus provides a clear explanation of why it was initially difficult for some of his followers to recognize him. Let us remember that his earthly body was not his heavenly body. Thus, it certainly could not be expected that his earthly body, which had been dead for an estimated 33 hours before the resurrection process began, would immediately thereafter appear to be in robust health. Hence, it is a logical conclusion that when Jesus was first seen by his followers he still have an almost death-like pallor, that some face muscles still dropped, and that there were cavernous dark circles beneath his eyes. Such an appearance could have been avoided, of course, if Jesus had gone into hiding until his convalescence was complete. Moreover, there is plentiful evidence that Jesus' body did regain its pre-crucifixion appearance in the considerable number of days that he remained on Earth, and while he was in almost continuous contact with the Apostles. Nevertheless, he chose for the rest of reasons to make his first post-resurrection appearance while still in an emaciated condition. First, as he knew, the incompletely healed wounds would verify his identify. Second, it was important not to keep the Apostles waiting overly long for his demonstrated proof of a resurrection achieved.
Thus, especially because we now know even the process by which the resurrection was accomplished, the credibility of the Apostles in telling of this phenomenal event and in describing Jesus as God's Son can no longer be disbelieved or doubted by rational minds. The total certainty of those chief followers that had achieved resurrection was, of course, built upon a first-hand knowledge which didn't require an explanation of the process.
Indeed, the Apostles did not know in medical terms the pathology even of his death. Nevertheless, they could not have been other than positive that he really died in the succession of events which led to his resurrection. They knew the unmistakable symptoms of death; that no body could retain life after it had hung nailed to a Cross as Jesus had, with respiration stopped, many times as long as needed for death to be certain. (Moreover, as we have also perceived, not only Pilate and the centurion but also even the Sanhedrin knew that Jesus died, beyond doubt, in the crucifixion process.)
In turn, the Apostles had the testimony of their own eyes that it was the same Jesus who later was seen in a living condition, -- and here again they could not have been mistaken. They saw the incompletely healed wounds of the nails and spear-thrust to identify him after his resurrection. Moreover, they had known him on a face-to-face basis almost daily for several years or longer. In addition, (for further analysis in the following chapter), they were in almost continuous contact with him for several weeks subsequent to the resurrection. Finally (as will also be examined in the following chapter), some or all of them were witnesses when he then bodily ascended from Earth for his return to Heaven.
As for any charges that the Apostles might have invented the details that they reported, this is initially answered by the testimony of their own conduct in subsequent years. The fact that they accepted lives of hardship and that some or all of them accepted death as martyrs rather than repudiate the claims they made relating to Jesus, even when many men would have paid them large sums to purchase such apostasy, shows they could not have been guilty of inventive deception.
Even so, it is now our new knowledge of the very process by which it not only was possible for the resurrection to be accomplished but also by which it was actually accomplished which is an ultimately irrefutable assurance that there was no deception by the Apostles, either by invention or by gullibility, concerning any of the divine phenomena attributed to Jesus -- because there was no need for any deception; thus, that the truth was precisely as they told it.
FOUR PRINCIPAL TRUTHS OF THEOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE are involved in our study of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.
First: There is a long unobserved truth concerning the relationship between the birth process by which Jesus acquired an earthly body and the process by which life was restored to it after it had been dead. Thus, we now must clarify the distinction between "resurrection" and "reincarnation" -- an element of confusion in many men's minds.
We note, therefore, that some non-Christian religions have contended that human souls experience reincarnation. By this, some of those religions have meant that when the body dies the soul enters into some other earthly body -- of an infant just being conceived, for example -- or even into some animal, and that a succession of such so-called reincarnations may continue ad infinitum. Thus, as a result of the existence of that (false) concept among some non-Christians, many Christians have rejected even the word reincarnation.
On the other hand, many Christians have erroneously assumed that Jesus' resurrection was a demonstration of the physical principles which human souls will experience for the beginning of a second life subsequent to earthly death. Hence, such Christians have been in a position of contending that a second life for a human soul will begin by a "resurrection" involving a restoration of life to the same body which was its previous abode on Earth. Indeed, some Christians have erroneously assumed that a time will come when all dead human bodies will literally "rise from their graves." At the opposite extreme, because most Christians find it impossible to believe that a second life for human souls will involve a restoration of life in their abandoned earthly bodies, they are all mixed-up concerning the physical significance of the resurrection of Jesus.
Of course, the earlier logic of our study has already made clear the process by which the human soul, after the death of the earthly body, will acquire its own entirely new body -- by a process of reincarnation rather than of resurrection. Such being the case, it is obvious that a correct explanation is needed to show the significance of Jesus' resurrection in its contrast to the reincarnation which will be the experience of ourselves, our souls.
Let us perceive, therefore, that we are indebted to Jesus for demonstrating both resurrection and reincarnation in a pair of events separated by approximately 33 years. Thus, although he demonstrated resurrection following crucifixion, it was a process of reincarnation which was demonstrated by his earthly birth. At his resurrection he kept the same body he had previously possessed; in his earthly birth process he acquired an entirely new body to replace (temporarily) the body he had previously possessed in Heaven.
Thus, as our logic has earlier explained, it was because there was no other existing earthly means by which Jesus' soul-cell, arriving from Heaven, could be reincarnated (i.e., "made flesh again") on Earth that it had to experience gestation in a human womb -- whereas our souls, on their arrival in Heaven, will be externally reincarnated by immersion in womb-like nutrients ("of water and the spirit") in much the same manner that the first organic life, aeons ago, came into its existence on Earth.
Hence, the first of the great truths which we presently are listing is that if God's Son had not demonstrated resurrection as one of the greatest proofs of his identity the minds of human beings could not have also come to perceive with certainty that he had earlier demonstrated by his earthy birth the process of incarnation which (in principle) will also apply to the souls of ourselves.
Second: There is another long unobserved truth involved in Jesus' reasons for choosing crucifixion in relation to his promise to experience resurrection within a three-day limit.
Of course, it was necessary for Jesus to choose a manner of death that would be so conspicuous and so unmistakable that his resurrection could be proven to be a true resurrection and so that his resurrection could ultimately be recognized as a corroboration of his earlier reincarnation. Thus, it is evident that his crucifixion fulfilled these requirements.
In addition, however, it is an inescapable deduction that Jesus' primary reasons for choosing crucifixion included the fact that, by terminating his death-struggle quickly enough to avoid the leg-breaking risk, the remaining physical damage to his earthly body could be largely healed by the process our logic has previously described within a three-day limit; indeed, actually within hardly more than six hours. His reason for wanting such a quick resurrection was, obviously, that a three-day wait for his return to life was about as long as the anguished Apostles could have endured. More specifically, let us now perceive, he wanted the witnesses of his resurrection to be the same Apostles who had directly known of his crucifixion.
True, even if Jesus' legs had been broken it is evident that his resurrection could have been accomplished by the same process which actually dealt with his other bodily damage, but the healing of broken bones would have taken longer than he desired. Indeed, he knew it would be necessary to leave even the wounds of his fleshy tissues to remain incomplete in their healing to reappear alive as quickly as he had specified.
We shall be still better able to understand the physical reasons for Jesus' choice of crucifixion, however, by considering what the results would have been in a hypothetical case in which he had chosen not crucifixion but, for example, decapitation. Thus, on one hand, he knew his death by crucifixion would be recognized as an indisputable fact not only by the Apostles but also even by the Jews and Romans who shared in inflicting it upon him. He also knew the time would come when corroborative proof of his death would be provided even in the terms of modern science. On the other hand, he could also foresee that not even a theory or conjecture of non-death could ever have been proposed by anyone if the record showed his head had been severed from his body.
Death by beheading was not an infrequent Roman practice. indeed, there is evidence that St. Paul suffered death in such a manner. Thus, it would not have been beyond Jesus' resources to have arranged such a death for himself. Of course, this would not have allowed him to show his willingness to accept protracted pain such as he suffered on the Cross, the acceptance of which served a purpose which we shall analyze in later pages. Yet, if Jesus could have achieved resurrection under the same circumstances from decapitation that he did from crucifixion his triumph over death would surely have been even more startling than it actually was. Thus, a purpose of collateral significance will be served by our now dealing with the question of whether it would have been possible for a beheaded Jesus too have risen from death -- because our response will shed further light on the resurrection process which actually applied.
Thus, the answer to the decapitation question begins by recalling our earlier mention that although the cells of a human body are capable of repairing certain kinds of wounds, the cells of the wrist cannot be caused to grow a new hand to replace one that has been severed. Indeed, none of the healing miracles that Jesus himself performed on others ever achieved that kind of a result. Hence, because the resurrection of Jesus had to be accomplished in accord with physical laws it is an inescapable conclusion that his earthly body could not have been resurrected if it had met death by a beheading.
That does not mean that God's Son would have encountered a permanent death even if his earthly body had been beheaded. Instead, his soul-cell -- like our human soul-cells -- would have survived. In turn, it would have returned to Heaven to experience a reincarnation there by the process we have earlier described. In such case, Jesus could then have made a second trip to Earth for his soul-cell to be reincarnated a second time in a human womb, to be followed some 33 years and nine months later by a successful demonstration of resurrection. By that time, however, everything he had previously taught about himself would have been in disrepute. He would not even have been recognized as the same Jesus who had once been beheaded. Moreover, the group of Apostles he had carefully organized would have been disbanded. In other words, Jesus' first visit to Earth would have been a wasted effort.
Let us perceive, therefore, the supplementary truth that one of Jesus' reasons for choosing to be crucified was simply to avoid any risk that more than one earthly birth and more than one earthly death would be necessary to let him demonstrate both resurrection and reincarnation.
Third: Among the truths demonstrated in conjunction with Jesus' crucifixion-resurrection events let us now identify certain additional phenomena which are vaguely hinted in the Bible.
Both Matthew and Mark relate that one of the angels at Jesus' sepulcher told the women who were first to arrive that they should inform the Apostles that he "goeth before you into Galilee; there you shall see him." Matthew adds that Jesus then appeared, still near the tomb, and likewise instructed the women, "Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee and there shall they see me."
Then, as we have previously noted, Jesus was next seen by two disciples as they walked along a road near Emmaus, several miles from Jerusalem. They did not immediately recognize him, however, for reasons we have also earlier cited. Yet, when the three stopped to eat, Jesus "took bread, and blessed it, and gave it to them," whereupon, says Luke, "their eyes were opened and they knew him."
What had happened to permit them to recognize Jesus at this juncture is now easily explained. He had simply performed an unrecognized miracle of healing, of overcoming the inefficient functioning of the mentalities of those who then were with him. In greater detail, we now perceive, he had used the bread to convey particles of the Holy Spirit into the two disciples whereby their mental perceptivity was sharpened. His touch had sent those particles into the bread so that it was used much as he long earlier had used a clay poultice to cure a case of optical blindness.
What is more especially significant at the present point of our study, however, begins with the fact that the Bible implies Jesus had not been walking, had not been making a gradual approach, when he encountered the two disciples. Moreover, the Bible says that as soon as the disciples recognized Jesus, he "vanished out of their sight." Thus, it is implied that he didn't just walk away. Instead, it is implied that he was invisible while he was approaching them and that he became invisible again in his departure.
Likewise, Mark says that later in the same day, Jesus "appeared unto the Eleven (in Jerusalem) as they sat at meat." Of the same occasion, Luke says that when the two disciples returned from Emmaus to tell the Apostles of their experience, that "as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them" and that "they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit." Thus, both Mark and Luke convey an impression that Jesus had made an invisible approach. In particular, Luke's reference to the reaction of the Eleven implies that Jesus had not been with them until he suddenly became visible in their midst.
Hence, such terms as "appeared", "stood", and "vanished', give us a distinct impression that Jesus had been using a power to make his body either visible or invisible.
In turn, John's Gospel says, "The same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst." At another point, the same record adds, "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst."
Thus, taken in conjunction with the implied phenomenon of invisibility, John intimates that Jesus could also make his body pass through "solid" walls or doors.
Further, let us perceive another significance in the evidence that Jesus went from Jerusalem to Emmaus and then returned to Jerusalem on the same day of resurrection -- a distance of several miles in each direction. Thus, is it to be supposed that, despite the presumably uncompleted healing of the wounds in his feet, he walked those distances? Hardly so. Instead, we are impelled to deduce that in those journeys he not only made himself invisible but also exercised the phenomenon of levitation, of travel from one place to another without setting a foot on the ground.
Of course, having corroborated Jesus' use of divine powers -- phenomenal to us yet all within the boundaries of physical laws -- we have no obligation now to do more than speculate on how he might have made himself alternately visible and invisible or been able to pass through closed doors. As for his use of the power of levitation, we have already noted an earlier occasion when he walked on water and have perceived how he was able to do that. Moreover, in the following chapter, we shall corroborate his bodily ascension from Earth for his return to Heaven. However, again noting that the substance of Jesus' body was composed of electronic particles and of spaces between them, we offer a conjecture that he could pass his particles through the between particles spaces of doors or walls much as water can pass through the perforations of a sieve, and much as the human soul-cell has no need to use any ordinary bodily aperture to escape, at the death of a body, from its living abode largely surrounded by the bones of the head. As to how Jesus could make his body invisible, we similarly offer a conjecture that he could make its particles totally absorptive of light rays so that these could not bounce back into human eyes, much as we have earlier deduced that Heaven cannot be detected by radio waves sent out from Earth. Moreover, it is of related significance that God himself in Old Testament times was also frequently invisible even when he was speaking to human ears, and there is plentiful evidence that numerous angelic visitors to Earth were visible only at such times as they chose.
Thus, among the principal truths made evident in direct connection with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is not only the fact that God's Son triumphed over the death of his earthy body but also that there exists much evidence that, quite within the limits of physical laws, he possessed certain additional phenomenal bodily powers not characteristic of ordinary humans.
Fourth: An amplified analysis Jesus did not choose a painless form of death when even such as this could still have allowed a demonstration of resurrection and a corresponding corroboration that his birth was a reincarnation, will now lead us to the greatest of the truths which his crucifixion-resurrection actually revealed.
Of course, a non-violent death was avoided because, for one reason, it would not have been sufficiently spectacular; thus, a resurrection therefrom would have been little noticed and too quickly forgotten as also would have been even the death itself. Likewise, it is easily understandable why Jesus didn't simply give a verbal explanation of reincarnation for followers subsequently to teach, and then to have returned to Heaven without a crucifixion and a resurrection; thus, one reason he did not rely alone on mere words was that humanity then did not possess a sufficient background of basic knowledge to have comprehended a mere telling of the related facts.
Similarly, it is easy to deduce the chief reason that Jesus did not simply assert the fact of reincarnation and call for Mankind to accept it without its being understood but letting it be buttressed by some ostentatious act other than the crucifixion-resurrection combination yet sure to prove his divinity, his authority to know and to reveal such a truth. For example, the earlier asked and answered question in our study, why didn't he stage an aerial parade over the city of Rome with himself visible and followed by a legion of angels? The answer to that, we recall, is that while God wanted to help man on the road toward a total theological enlightenment there were also reasons that God wanted part of the advancement to be won by Man's own efforts. In other words, the Deity didn't want to make the evidence of reincarnation to be so instantaneously overwhelming that humanity would respond with a superficial appearance of being ever motivated by love. In a modern earthly analogy, he didn't want humanity to become "rice Christians."
On the other hand, let us also examine the falsity of a concept which many portions of the Christian Church have allowed numerous men to entertain as the supposed reason for Jesus to have accepted the agony of crucifixion. This concept has been that Jesus chose a painful death as a necessary means to "propitiate" God! In part, that concept may have been caused by a poor translation of a passage in one of the Epistles of St. John. Thus, the King James version of the Bible provides a translation which says that Jesus "is the propitiation for our sins." Let us be prepared, therefore, to perceive the translation would have been better if it had said Jesus "is the rescuer of us from our sins."
Hitched to the propitiation concept has been a premise that God was angry because Adam and Eve committed an Original Sin and finally contemplated a destruction of Mankind but that Jesus persuaded him not to do it -- by offering a substitute himself as a recipient of a punishment which humanity, instead, had deserved. In contrast, our earlier logic herein has already totally refuted the concept that Jesus "propitiated" God in connection with an Original Sin or in connection with any later repercussions therefrom. We did this by showing that Adam and Eve were not guilty of a so-called Original Sin; that instead they achieved a triumph of moral advancement on behalf of Mankind, and that this not only pleased God but even caused him to take the action which thereafter made all human souls immortal.
Now, however, let us note that the propitiation theory in connection with the crucifixion of Jesus is shown groundless also by its inclusion of several additional grave errors. First among these, it erroneously depicts God as having been unaware of Man's need to learn-his-way-out from a beginning in animalistic ignorance of moral principles and of theological truth. Second, it erroneously depicts God as having needed to be bribed to offset a deficiency of love, or of pity, or even of noblesse oblige. Third, it erroneously depicts God as capable of experiencing a sadistic pleasure in the suffering of his own Son.
Our own rejection of the concept that Jesus had to appease his Father still leaves us with a need, however, to recognize the true complex of reasons that Jesus chose to participate in a two-part action in which a triumphant resurrection was preceded by a painful death on the Cross. Thus, to perceive the true motivations of God and God's Son in making such a choice, let us recognize that the purpose of the crucifixion-resurrection combination were for the benefit of Mankind, not for the benefit of God. For example, the resurrection was in part a demonstration of the divinity of Jesus, a fact already known to God but which humanity still needed to know. Likewise, the fact that the resurrection corroborates the fact that Jesus' earthly birth demonstrated certain principles of reincarnation which also are applicable to human souls was another item of enlightenment for the benefit of Man, not God.
Now let us note the related significance of an additional pair of facts. First, the enlightenment concerning the reincarnation of human souls provided by the birth and resurrection of Jesus would have gone unnoticed or would have been forgotten if his earthly death had not been by a process so vividly dramatic that it was not only of immediate impact but also would be remembered forever. Second, the potential of reincarnation for human souls that was demonstrated in the birth of Jesus would still have been meaningless for Mankind unless he had also shown that the depth of divine love for humanity would cause our souls to be provided with divine assistance sufficient to guarantee a fulfillment of that reincarnation potential.
Thus, the greatest truth provided by Jesus' birth-crucifixion-resurrection sequence is not only that a reincarnation potential is physically available for human souls but also that the willingness of God's Son to accept a dramatically painful form of death -- by showing how great a price he was willing to pay to ensure humanity's acquirement and retention of all the enlightenment which he set forth while he was on Earth -- is thereby an incontrovertible proof that the greatness of their love for Mankind by both God and his Son is their divine guaranty that our second life potential will truly be fulfilled!
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