80 Years Ago – The Resurrection of Jesus

20 80 YEARS AGO THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS (Reproduced from the March issue of the Review of Religions, 1910) The readers are well aware of our views about the crucifixion of Jesus. We quote the following from a New York weekly as strongly corroborative of our view. Mr George Lowe, writing in the Truth Seeker, New York says: According to the writers of the four Gospels – writers who are implicitly believed by all orthodox Christians – Jesus was crucified between two criminals on the sixth day of the week. The narrative tells us that Pilate was unwillingly forced to sign the death warrant, and that his wife urged him to refrain from such action. It was only when the Jews threatened him with political ruin, that the governor gave way to popular clamour, and consented to the execution. Crucifixion caused a slow lingering death. The sufferer usually languis- hed two or three, sometimes four, days before yielding up his life. On this occasion the result seems to have been different, at least so far as Jesus was concerned, for he is said to have expired some time before sunset on the same-day on which he was put upon the cross; We are informed that, when he died, all his disciples forsook him, and fled. They are, therefore, not qualified to give ‘trustworthy evidence as to what afterwards took place. Nevertheless, the statement of theirs that the Jews requested Pilate to have the bodies removed from the crosses so that the next day, the Sabbath, might not be defiled, bears all the elements of probability. Would not the before-reluctant Pilate and his tender-hearted wife be likely to seize this opportunity to rescue Jesus from the very jaws of death? One would think so. We are told that the soldiers broke the bones of the two thieves, to hasten their death, so that their bodies might be buried without delay. The chronicler declares that not a bone of Jesus was broken. Why? Because Pilate had ordered them to give the Nazarene teacher every possible chance for his life. True, it is said that his side was pierced with a spear but we must remember that it was the purpose, of Matthew at least, to connect Jesus with every possible allusion to the Messiah found in the sacred writings of the Hebrews. Then, alas, there is nothing said as to the depth of the wound, which, if given, might, or might not, have been such as would prove fatal. REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 21 The body was laid in -a tomb, and a watch set to guard the grave from dispoilers. These men who guarded the tomb were soldiers in the pay and under the orders of Pilate. Let us assume that the governor was a man of ordinary mould. Selfish, weak, yet humane, he apparently was. What course would be most natural for him to pursue? After night had set in, he would send his own physician to the grave with an order to the guard for permission to enter the tomb for the purpose of resuscitating the body. Strict secrecy would be enjoined on all concerned. There would be no meddling Jews prying around, for the Sabbath had begun at sunset, and as it was an especially holy day, none would defile themselves by remaining near a sepulchre, and -thus cut themselves off from participat- ion in the religious observances of the festival. All the details of the Gospel narrative agree with this explanation. The soldiers were not punished for sleeping while on guard duty, as they accused themselves of doing.’Jesus was alive and in the flesh many days after the crucifixion, for he ate a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb on the shores of Lake Galilee. No supernatural,’ or unnatural, or nonnatural being could have done this very natural thing. That he kept himself secluded from the public for the remainder of his life is quite consistent with the theory here advanced, as Pilate would be most anxious to prevent a knowledge of the facts coming to the ears of the emperor, and would for that reason persuade the Nazarene to remain in retirement. The appearance of Jesus when Paul was on the road to Damascus was most likely an actual personal appeal by the-; supposedly dead teacher for a.cessation of the persecution of his disciples. One can well understand that Saul was deceived, probably unintentionally into believing that he saw and heard a spirit. That Jesus himself for some time suffered the delusion that he had risen from the dead, is quite probable. The pains he endured while on the cross would be well calculated to unbalance his mind, therefore his own statement is not at all inconsistent with the view here expressed: That the supposed death of Jesus was a case of suspended animation, and that the so-called resurrection was simply a resuscitation brought about by trusted servants of Pilate, is in the opinion of writer, the true explanation of what is generally believed to have been the greatest miracle of all ages.