Once upon a time, a young radical walked the dusty roads of a distant land. It was said that he had been a carpenter by trade, and a carpenter’s son. What he was up to now was anybody’s guess, which guesses were made and discussed frequently. Some of the gossip passing around claimed that, as a young boy of perhaps twelve years, he had sat in the synagogue and spoke of the Torah in ways that amazed, astounded and (sometimes) angered those who listened. The hope for the promised Messiah was strong among many people, who ventured the thought that this may be the One. The skepticism about this Messiah was also strong, and many scrutinized from afar.
He seemed to collect people wherever he went, people who then followed him in his travels from one town to the next. It was said that he could heal and that he was wise. It was said that he criticized the Pharisees and, on occasion, encouraged open defiance of their religious rules. It was said that his influence among the people was growing.
Then word spread ‘round that he was heading to Jerusalem. Was he the One? Hopes soared, as well as fears. When he arrived, many greeted him in a royal manner, laying palms along his path and singing praises to God. He made quite an impression the following week, disrupting the temple money-lenders, going head-to-head with the Pharisees on the teachings of their faith, and even suggesting the eventual destruction of the Temple. He was a radical. Something had to be done.
And it was. The Pharisees orchestrated a case against him with the civil authorities. He was arrested, questioned briefly, and sentenced to death. As he died the tortuous death the Romans inflicted upon so many, his followers cringed in darkened rooms, fearful the authorities would come after them next.
After he died, and was buried, a realization came over his followers, an awakening like the dawn. In the midst of their grief, a compelling insight gripped them in a very powerful way. They felt the presence of their teacher as if his very spirit was with them. Their hearts filled with his teachings. A person may have died, but what he taught lived on in and amongst them. Hope had arisen from the dead.
Others have their interpretations of the Easter story; this is mine It is a liberal interpretation, a generous reading, seeing this story as poetry and metaphor instead of literal fact and history. It is solidly within our tradition which has revered Jesus as a unique teacher and, like the Qu’ran, honored him as one in a long line of great prophets. I cannot abandon Jesus to the narrow interpretations of others. Rather, I seek to broaden and deepen our understanding of him. Old interpretations must die, and when they do — when any narrow interpretation dies, be it one of possession or rejection — something new can be born. A new spirit, a generous and liberal spirit, rises. As it rose before, so will it rise again. And life will be renewed.
- DanielRead more...