Resurrection and Pentecost

1) Good morning friends. Well, if you follow newspaper articles these days, there seems never to be a dull moment in politics in this country, if you consider what has happened during the last couple of weeks, with all the shuffling of positions in the ruling hierarchy, seemingly for their own benefit, rather than for the general good of the country. Contrast that with religious events since the passing of Easter, which was the last major event in the Christian calendar, marking Jesus’s resurrection from what appeared to be the dead, and his ascent into heaven some time later, after his reappearance to the disciples.

2) In this country, the commemoration of Pentecost does not appear to be widely observed, apart from a few denominations perhaps. So let us return to established facts which followed after the crucifixion, and this is what I’d like to talk to you about today.

3) Most of you are probably aware that the first three books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark and Luke, are in fairly good agreement with each other, but that the fourth book, John, differs quite considerably from them. They were obviously embellished to fit in with what went on in those times, and so what was considered acceptable and logical then, does certainly not all make sense in the light of what we know today. Bearing this in mind, let us consider the events which supposedly took place after the crucifixion, when the body of Jesus was taken down from the cross after he had given up the ghost. It was then wrapped in graveclothes and taken to the sepulchre, prior to being buried after a few days, in the normal way of those times, and for most people that would have been the end of that.

4) His teachings would have been forgotten by many people, apart from those to whom they were meaningful. One of his followers, Mary Magdalene, was particularly concerned that Jesus’s body should be treated reverently, and so returned to the sepulchre to check. The graveclothes were there, but we are told that there was no sign of his body, he seemingly having dematerialised. This is a point which is at variance with what we know today, and appears to be an embellishment of the times.

5) Returning for a moment to a happening when Jesus was alive, Lazarus, who was the brother of Mary, had been ill for a while, and so Jesus, who knew them and was fond of them, was called in to heal him. He did not come immediately, bit only after four days, by which time Lazarus’s body, to all intents and purposes, was well and truly dead. They remonstrated, but Jesus’s reply was to the effect that the beliefs they held were, in essence, false. Mary’s reply expressed the orthodox view, about resurrecting in their bodies on the last day, whenever that might be, after having lain in limbo in a coma until  the last trump. What do you think of this explanation, which is held by orthodoxy, even to the present time? Biologically it does not seem to make much sense, in the light of modern technology and knowledge.

6) Stop there for a moment and reflect on what you have just heard, especially so, because of the embellishments which we now know took place in those biblical days. Jesus resurrected in the same body after three days of lying in the sepulchre, supposedly dead, like Lazarus, mentioned a little while back. Now, quoting Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science repute, ‘Jesus’s three days’ work in the sepulchre set the seal of eternity on time. He proved life to be deathless and love to be the master of hate’. Make of that statement what you will. Remember the view of the medical profession, that once the body is determined to be lifeless, it cannot be resuscitated. Then again, Jesus’s reply to Mary, to her statement about resurrecting after the last trump had sounded, was: ‘ I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.’ Then again, the well-known guide Red Cloud’s comment on the orthodox view on resurrection: ‘There they lie, thousands of them, waiting for the last trump to sound, when they will all be resurrected.’ So there you are; make of those quotes what you will. Finally, to Christians according to the teaching of their church, the dead body is the future habitation of the soul, which will re-animate it on resurrection day. How this is to take place is anybody’s guess – take your pick!

7) Having just considered the resurrection at Easter, we come now to the next important event in the church calendar: Pentecost, or WhitSunday, as it used to be known, with the disciples speaking in tongues, some seven weeks after the resurrection, when the Holy Spirit descended upon them. This event was originally taken over from Judaism or, in other words, the Jews got there first! At the present moment we are inbetween Easter and Pentecost, since we still have a couple of weeks to go, to the first Sunday of next month. Who knows, but that another descent of the Holy Spirit will occur at one of our sanctuaries if conditions are favourable. Let us all therefore try to raise our vibrations nearer that time, to facilitate the best chance for this happening to be recognised as something tangible for us all.