On the Resurrection of Christ

From the perspective of a Baha’i, myself, the Easter time is certainly one of great reflection and rejoicing. And so it is that, probably like many of my brothers and sisters in Christianity, I find myself pondering on the nature of the resurrection. In particular, from the stories of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, what do we understand about the resurrection. Sure, there are stories about the appearance of Christ to certain believers  from the day we know as Easter and afterwards. And while the vast majority of people associated with Christ at the time and since have not had the experience of a physical appearance surely the nature of resurrection is for our benefit, rather than Christ’s.  So  what does it mean to us that Christ has resurrected. For me it must mean that His True Nature has become apparent to me.

When I was  young man, although brought with a Christian education, I found myself lost for an understanding and then a belief of Christ. When I came across the teachings of Baha’u’llah on Christ, it was like a veil lifted from my eyes, a rock lifted off my heart, a cool and calming breeze wafting across my neck and brow.  Baha’u’llah extolled the being of Jesus to the highest degree. “Consider and call thou to mind the days whereon the Spirit of God (Jesus Christ) appeared, and Herod gave judgment against Him. God, however, aided Him with the hosts of the unseen, and protected Him with truth, and sent Him down unto another land, according to His promise. He, verily, ordaineth what He pleaseth. Thy Lord truly preserveth whom He willeth, be he in the midst of the seas or in the maw of the serpent, or beneath the sword of the oppressor.” (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 57)
And about the resurrection, the insight of the true nature of Jesus, Baha’u’llah referred, “Even as Jesus said: “Ye must be born again.” Again He saith: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The purport of these words is that whosoever in every dispensation is born of the Spirit and is quickened by the breath of the Manifestation of Holiness, he verily is of those that have attained unto “life” and “resurrection” and have entered into the “paradise” of the love of God.”  (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 117.

And thus this insight, this recognition of the Love of God in the nature of Christ, is for me, the resurrection.

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2 thoughts on “On the Resurrection of Christ

  1. Edward Walker

    Dear Owen, your thoughts and perspectives on the resurrection are wonderful and timely, in particular, developing the understanding that the “eye witness” accounts of the risen Christ are the Gospels’ way of portraying that the eyes of the early followers of Christ became opened to His true nature, His station.

    I have been thinking about an additional way of approaching the resurrection from a Baha’i perspective. It could provide a way to help Christians better understand it too. It has to do with how Abdu’l-Baha described the three natures of man: animal, human, and divine; and how His “theory” of man’s natures became incorporated into the Baha’i ring symbol as a three tiered form joined by a single line. To me, it indicates the ascent (“resurrection”) of an individual (or, all of humanity) from this lowest to highest nature via the pathway provided by the Manifestation, in a three stage process. These three natures of man, and three stages or planes as Baha’u’llah describes in The Valley of Unity section of the Seven Valleys, correspond to the three days of the resurrection. They are not days of the week, but stages of spiritual development.

    Recall that Jesus Himself actually described the resurrection as a journey, in the Gospel of Luke chapter 13:32-33: “I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” Here, Jesus shows that the three days is a process of spiritual change, and a journey in three stages, leading to perfection (the “I” in the above text referring to His body of believers). He also told people to use the sign of Jonah (three days in the belly of the sea monster) as a sign. It is clearly symbolic and could not possibly be taken literally, or we would all have to abandon the laws of nature and hold to a faith based on supernatural events of a superstitious nature, something we do not have to do as the Baha’i Teachings clearly indicate.

    Similarly, Baha’u’llah indicates a journey of three stages in the Persian Hidden Words, number 7: “Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity.” These two paces are steps from the two lower planes, to the highest or third level.

    There are many other places where the three days time-motif is represented in the Bible and elsewhere, including as a spiritual geography in the Exodus account (Egypt, Wilderness, Promised Land). The Baha’i Writings also contain them, and Abdu’l-Baha provided the synthesis in His three natures description. You can find it in the Promulgation of Universal Peace, on page 465.

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