Atonement (Part 5)

The Light (Pakistan), 16th August 1922 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 17, pp. 2–3)

The events which followed the crucifixion are again in favour of the view that Jesus [AS] escaped death on the cross. There is ample testimony in the Bible to the fact that he appeared again and again to the disciples in person. The so-called “resurrection from the dead,” which is the catch word of every Christian, was in fact a partial recovery from his wounds after which he was able to flee away in fear lest he should be re-arrested by the Jews.

St. John has given a full description of Jesus in interviews after the crucifixion with his disciples, which may be summarised here.

First Interview:

“And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the dis­ciples glad when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again: peace be unto you” (John, 20:20–21).

“The other disciple therefore said unto him (Thomas). We have seen the Lord but he said unto them: Except I shall see in his hands the mark of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John, 20:25).

Second Interview:

“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, and said peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, 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” (John, 20:26–27).

Third Interview:

“After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias, and on this wise shewed he himself. Jesus saith unto them: Bring of the fish which you have now caught. Jesus saith unto them: Come and dine, and none of the disciples darest ask him, Who art thou? know­ing it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh and taketh the bread, and giveth them and fish likewise” (John, 21:1–13).

Now, every student of the Bible must think over these passages, which are too clear to need any elucidation. They establish without the shadow of doubt that Jesus met his disciples thrice after the crucifixion, and he was afraid of the Jews; that is why the doors were shut.

There are other passages in the Gospels which show that he enjoined secrecy upon his followers. If he actually “rose from the dead,” he should have no fear. Rather, he ought to have come to the Jews and said:

“Here I am. You crucified me but I have risen from the dead. I have defeated death, and you as well. It is the sure sign of my truth.”

But the case is quite contrary. He sees even his disciples in secret. The plea sometimes put forward that it was the materialised spirit of Jesus and not the physical body that appeared to the disciples is simply an illusion. A materialised spirit does not need any food; neither should it have any fear. But Jesus wanted “fish” and “bread,” which is a sure indication of the fact that he was in the physical sphere of life.

I think the whole difficulty in explaining the dogmas of modern Christianity lies in a misconception of the phrase “rising from the dead.” Those who are familiar with the oriental mode of expression (and it should be noted that Hebrew or Aramaic, in which the original Bible was written, is an oriental language) can easily realise that the rising from the dead means recovery from a precarious state of health. We have seen that some of our oriental physicians, while using hyperbolical expressions about the efficacy of a certain medicine, often say “it raises people from the dead”; that is, it cures such patients whose case appears to be hopeless.

And such was the case of Jesus, who was nearly dead on account of being nailed to the cross. Hence his recovery can appropriately be called rising from the dead. But the prosaic and the matter-of-fact ridden mind of the European is too literal and takes it as a hard reality.  They should, as a rule, make allowance for linguistic difficulties, as the Gospels are translated and re-translated, and we cannot cling to words in such a case.