Nov 29, 2015

The Meaning of Resurrection – by Hand of the Cause William Sears

What is the meaning of the Resurrection of His Holiness Jesus the Christ? It is written that after three days He rose from the dead. How can this be explained to the logical mind?

Baha'u'llah has also unsealed the meaning of the "resurrection" of Christ and the meaning of "resurrection day". Baha'u'llah pointed out that there was a beautiful, eternal truth hidden in this inward symbol of the Resurrection, but that it had been gravely misunderstood. As a result, it became the cause of disputes between religions, as well as between religion and science. The doctrine of the Resurrection has also been the cause of preventing literal-minded people from accepting the new Messenger of God, Baha'u'llah, in this day.

By clinging to this belief in the bodily resurrection, the eyes of the people have become blinded to the truth. They have deprived themselves of the spiritual resurrection, the very basic purpose of their existence on earth. Such people are truly "dead" in the "graves" of error.

The Teachings of the Baha'i Faith say:

"The resurrections of the [Messengers of God] are not of the body ... Their parables, and Their instructions, have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no connection with material things." [1]

In the Gospel of John it says:

"And no man bath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." [2]

Again in John it is written:

"For I came down from heaven..." [3]

Christ says in these verses that He, the Son of man, is in heaven at the time while He, Christ, is on earth. He also says that he came down from heaven, though physically it is known that He came from the womb of Mary and that His physical body was born of Mary.

Is it any wonder that the people could not understand these verses? We can appreciate their bewilderment, as expressed in John:

"And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?" [4]

There can be no doubt that when it is said: The Son of man is "come down from heaven” this is a spiritual truth, not a material fact. It means that although Christ was, apparently, born from the womb of Mary, His spirit, and the reality of His teachings, came from God.

Just as Christ's coming down from heaven is a spiritual rather than a physical fact, so too His disappearance under the earth for three days, His subsequent resurrection and ascension up to heaven are spiritual, not physical facts. They are all inward, not outward truths.

Baha'u'llah's Teachings say clearly:

"Therefore we say that the meaning of Christ's resurrection is as follows: The disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, His bounties, His perfections, and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost; for the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated. The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and, when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting His counsels into practice, and arising to serve Him, the Reality of Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared; His religion found life, His teachings and His admonitions became evident and visible. In other words, the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body, until the life and bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it." [5]

Let us examine the inner meaning of the resurrection and, by means of the Scriptures, prove to our own satisfaction that it is symbolical.

The resurrection and ascension of Christ, if taken literally, are contrary to science and to reason. Baha'u'llah's teachings say that any religion which is contrary to true science is nothing more than superstition.

Science has proved that there are stars in space millions of light years away from us. If the physical body of Christ were to ascend into a heaven beyond this universe, the journey would not be completed yet. It would take millions of years, and He would still be ascending.

The mathematicians, during the 1840'S, scoffed at those literal-minded Bible scholars who said Christ would soon appear "on a cloud". Clouds, they said, are vapours which rise from the earth, they do not "come down". They also pointed out that Christ would have to make hundreds of thousands of "solo flights" if all the world were to see Him, because of the curvature of the earth.  

Obviously, the coming, the resurrection, and the ascension of Christ were symbolical.

If Christ really had risen physically from the dead, then all His patient love and teaching would be fruitless. Men would believe in Him solely because of this miracle, and not because of a sincere, voluntary effort on their part to turn toward God. A miracle of this nature would compel the wickedest sinner to repent. The sheep and the goats would both respond to the force of this prodigy, and moral values would be set aside. Belief would be brought about by coercion. This is contrary to the spirit of the teachings of Christ, as well as to those of all the Messengers of God.

Furthermore, if Christ's greatness were to be based on His physical ascent into heaven, then Elijah would have an equal claim to that station of greatness. It is written in the Old Testament that many years before Christ Elijah ascended into heaven with his physical body. In the Second Book of Kings it is recorded:

"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both [Elijah and Elisha] asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." [6]

Enoch would also have an equal station, for he, too, as is related in both Genesis and Hebrews, was taken up by God with his physical body "that he should not see death".

Durant, in Caesar and Christ, writes that the idea of such a translation "into the sky in body and in life was familiar to the Jews; they tell it of Moses, Enoch, Elijah and Isaiah." [7]

Such an ascent is also described before the time of Christ, concerning Mithra, of whom it is said, " ... in the end, his earthly mission fulfilled, Mithra after a Last Supper ascended into heaven, where he has never ceased to succour his own." [8]

Clearly - these ascents, including that of Christ, are to be understood symbolically.

If Christ's greatness were based upon His resurrection from the tomb with a physical body, then there are many saints who should be considered equally as great, for they, too, were resurrected by God. It is recorded that they came out of their graves with their physical bodies, just as Christ had done. Perhaps their resurrection is even more meritorious, since they were resurrected not three days after their deaths, but after far longer periods of time.

It is written in Matthew that Christ gave up the ghost:

"And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
"And came out of the graves after his resurrection..." [9]

If the greatness of Christ is based upon the fact that He not only arose from the dead, but proved it to His

followers by appearing to them, then these saints must still be considered equally great, for they, too, not only resurrected, but also proved it by appearing to many. It is written in Matthew that they:

"...came out of the graves after his resurrection... and appeared unto many." [10]

Obviously, these words are meant to be taken symbolically, not literally.

There is scarcely a person who does not believe that the story of Jonah, who was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, has an inward symbolical meaning rather than an outward physical one. That the resurrection of Christ is in like manner to be taken symbolically is shown by His own words. Christ likens His own death, and burial, to that very story of Jonah and the big fish.

When the Pharisees accused Christ of casting out devils with the help of the prince of devils, Beelzebub, Jesus branded those who believed such a doctrine a "generation of vipers". They asked Christ for a sign. They wanted a proof or a miracle to show that He was the Messiah.

"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee." [11]

Christ refused to work a miracle or to give them a sign. He said:

"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." [12]

Christ was crucified on the day which has come, among Christians, to be known as Good Friday. He arose, or was resurrected, from the earth on what is called Easter Sunday. Obviously He was then only two nights, Friday night and Saturday night, in the earth; and not three nights as Christ promised He would be. The meaning is obviously a symbolical one.

Jonah was chosen by God to go to Nineveh and cry against that wicked city. Jonah did not wish to go. He was reluctant to carry out his responsibility. He fled from the face of the Lord. The spirit died within him, and he was cast into the sea of materialism. He was swallowed up by the whale of earthly desires and disobedience. All signs of Jonah's spiritual life had vanished. Jonah himself declared that he cried out to the Lord from "hell". The belly of the whale was the grave of his disobedience and lack of understanding. [The word used by Jonah was ‘Sheol’ which can mean both "bell" and "grave.]

At last obedient to the edict of Almighty God, Jonah turned his heart to Nineveh and to his responsibilities. The whale and the sea gave up their treasure, for Jonah's spirit could no longer be restrained by such graves. He was resurrected. He went to Nineveh. He was afire with the miracle of the rebirth which God had caused in his soul. He preached to the wicked city of Nineveh. The people repented, and they were saved through the resurrection of Jonah.

In a like manner, it was not the body of Christ, but the body of His Cause, His teachings, which were buried in the earth, in the grave of neglect. When His disciples, under the inspiration of a woman, Mary of Magdala, realized in their hearts that Christ was with them always in spirit, and that His preaching and teaching were the source of all life, then the body of Christ's Faith was resurrected.

George Townshend, Sometime Canon of St. Patrick's Cathedral, in Dublin, Ireland, and Archdeacon of Clonfert, has expressed this in his book ‘The Heart of the Gospel’. He writes of the disciples and their earnest belief, to the very last moment, that Christ's kingdom was to be an earthly one in which they would enjoy positions of glory and power among men.

"The tragic close of His [Christ's] career brought their spiritual failure to unmistakable expression. Peter denied His Master thrice; Thomas doubted Him; Judas betrayed Him; all in the hour of His danger forsook Him and fled. The crucifixion cast them into utter amazement and despair ... Their world was empty. Their beloved Lord was defeated - the mocking Scribe was right. They had made some terrible mistake... For three days the Cause of Christ lay in their hearts dead and buried. None can tell what might have happened, had it not been for the intuition and courage of one who was not of their number - a woman, Mary of Magdala. She it was who was the first to understand the reality of eternal life and Christ's eternal Sonship... and recognized that if His body was dead, His spirit was indestructible and was alive breathing in mortal power. She cheered the disciples. She communicated to them her vision, quickened their faith and renewed their courage." [13]

Thus, after three days, the Body of Christ's teachings was resurrected, and it arose from that tomb of death.

The symbolical use of death in this sense is frequent and unmistakable throughout the Bible. For example we find in the New Testament:

"And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins;" [14]

And again:

"But she that liveth in pleasure [sins of the flesh] is dead while she liveth." [15]

Bishop E. W. Barnes, quotes the early Christian work the Shepherd of Hermas as saying: "Those who are baptized descend into the water dead, and they rise alive."

And in another place the New Testament declares:

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." [16]

 The Body of Christ's Faith, without the works of His disciples to give it life, was dead for three days.

Baha’u’llah comments with sadness upon the failure of mankind to grasp the meaning of such Scriptural events as the Resurrection.

"Again and again they read those verses which clearly testify to the reality of these holy themes, and bear witness to the truth of the Manifestations [Messengers] of eternal Glory, and still apprehend not their purpose.

They have even failed to realize, all this time, that, in every age, the reading of the scriptures and holy books is for no other purpose except to enable the reader to apprehend their meaning and unravel their innermost mysteries. Otherwise reading, without understanding, is of no abiding profit unto man." [17]

Unless the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the people of His day believed in the resurrection and life which the Word of Christ could give them, they would be spiritually dead. This was the sign of Jonah and the sign of Christ. It was an outward symbol of the inward truth.

Christ, in His very last words on earth, at the crucifixion, emphasized this principle once again:

"And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit..." [18]

His spirit, not his body. Christ was eager for His disciples to understand the meaning of His words. He told them:
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." [19]

Christ demonstrated that it was the preaching, the words which He spoke, that the people must pay attention to if they were to have life. These words, this preaching, was the sign of Jonah. This was the miracle which Christ promised to give them. He said:

"The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." [20]

Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians also shows plainly the symbology of the resurrection. He says of this inward truth:

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption ... It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body ... this mortal must put on immortality." [21]

In the same chapter, Paul says of the resurrection of Christ:
"... he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
"And last of all he was seen of me also..." [22]

Now Christ's appearances to His disciples after the resurrection, took place long before Paul's experience on the road to Damascus. Dunkerly, in ‘Beyond the Gospels’, says, "... it is interesting to find Paul speaking of his conversion as one of the resurrection appearances; this raises problems as to the nature of the resurrection, but we cannot enter into that here." [23] …

Man's failure to understand that these truths are figurative, and his rigid insistence upon their literal interpretation, have led to the weakening and discredit of religionn. To maintain that the resurrection of Christ was unique and solely a miracle of Christ, leads to grave problems, for we shall see that the symbol of the bodily resurrection is not limited to Jesus and to Christianity. Although Alexander Cruden, in his unabridged Concordance of the Bible, stated that, "The resurrection is a doctrine unknown to the wisest heathens, and peculiar to the gospel," we find that similar [24] phenomena have been attributed to many gods in the Mediterranean area. Some of these resurrection stories date back to nearly 3,000 years before Christ. These tales of the death and resurrection of the gods were commonly known, until they were suppressed by force in the fourth century of the Christian era.

Among the gods who performed this miracle of death and resurrection were: Mithra, Dionysus, Osiris, Attis, Persephone, Eurydice, and Aphrodite. The Feast of Saturnalia in which a mock king is slain as an atoning sacrifice for the people was one of the most thoroughly enjoyed spectacles.

Patterson, in his ‘Mithraism and Christianity’, and Smith, in his ‘Man and His Gods’, both speak of the outward similarity in these resurrection stories. Toynbee lists “eighty-seven correspondences between the story of Jesus' life and the stories of certain Hellenic 'saviours'...” Adonis was buried in a stone tomb. He was mourned, then he was declared resurrected, following which he ascended into heaven. [25]

The demi-god Herakles in myth was sent by God to   maintain a kingly authority over mankind. He suffered agonies. He resigned himself to the will of his heavenly father. He was sacrificed, and his mortal remains miraculously disappeared. He descended into hell. He made special appearances to the women of his gatherings. The death and glorious resurrection of Herakles were celebrated each year in a festival at Tarsus, the boyhood home of Paul. [26]

As the similarity between Christian rituals and those of other beliefs becomes more generally known, it is obvious that an insistence on a literal acceptance of such truths as the resurrection can only lead to the gradual weakening and dissolution of the faith of the individual Christian. Whereas an understanding of the symbolic nature of these truths, and of their true meaning, can only serve to fortify and strengthen his belief.

Taken as a literal truth, resurrection can only serve to divide and separate. Taken symbolically, it tells the simple, beautiful story of the continual death and rebirth of the spirit, a, process very similar to the death of the earth in winter and its rebirth in the springtime.

When the Christians preach the truth of Christ crucified, it is the inward symbol of His sacrifice that is important, not the outward fact that He was crucified. Christ's greatness does not depend upon His crucifixion, for He shares this distinction with thousands and thousands of others, many criminals of the worst sort. Crucifixion was not a unique punishment given only to Jesus. The Roman highways, in those days, were dotted with punished criminals who had been crucified. It was the most commonly accepted form of punishing serious offenders. It is interesting to note that some sources state that a tree and not a cross was used for such punishment. Victims of crucifixion were hanged or nailed to a tree, or a pole, with their hands above their heads. When the Galileans followed Judas the Gaulonite as the Messiah, during the rule of the procurator Quirinius, two thousands of them were crucified in one mass slaughter.

Throughout the lives of these World Educators, or Messengers of God, it is always the spirit which is important, never the body.

One of the strongest and clearest proofs which Christ gave to prove that bodily resurrection was useless in changing the hearts of men, can be found in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus wanted to make certain once and for all that everyone understood this point: that it was the Message of the Prophets which was important, and which brought new life, not a miracle such as resurrection.

In His parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Christ declares that even the miracle of physical resurrection will not aid those who lack the capacity to hear and to follow the Messengers of God.

The rich man from the depths of hell called upon Father Abraham to send a special messenger to his five brothers; lest, because of their disobedience to the laws of God, they too might be cast into hell.

Abraham replied:

"They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."

The rich man, according to this parable given by Christ, implored for something greater than words or teachings. He wanted a sign, a miracle to awaken his brothers. He said:  

"Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent."

The answer, for all time, is recorded in Abraham's reply:

"If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from, the dead." [27]

There could be no clearer statement of the unimportance of the physical return from the grave. Nor could there be stronger emphasis upon the importance of the words and teachings of the Messengers of God. This parable is from the words and teachings of Christ Himself upon the unimportance of resurrecting from the dead. He stressed that the spirit which the Prophets bring through their teachings can do more to aid humanity than any such outwardly astounding signs as "raising from the dead".

The terms "life" and "death", Baha'u'llah tells us, refer to the "life" of faith and the "death" of unbelief. It is the spirit of faith and belief which brings about the resurrection. Just as we say that in the winter the world is dead, and remains so until the springtime comes to awaken and revive it. This, also, is resurrection.

The dead will speed out of their sepulchers in the last day, according to Scripture. Again, this is a spiritual truth, Baha'u'llah tells us. It means that when the Prophet or Messenger of God appears, it is the Day of Judgment for all. It is the last days of the old religion. A new spiritual springtime has come. The spiritually dead will be awakened and will speed out of their sepulchers of unbelief. Their physical bodies do not come back from physical graves. Never!

The physical body is of little importance other than as a channel or instrument for the ever-developing spiritual qualities within man. Christ Himself told the young man who wanted to delay his acceptance of Jesus long enough to bury his father: “… let the dead bury the dead...” He meant, let those who do not [28] believe (i.e. the spiritually dead), bury the physically dead. In another place He says: "The flesh profiteth nothing" and "that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is borne of the Spirit is spirit." [29]

Baha'u'llah writes:

''In every age and century, the purpose of the Prophets of God and their chosen ones hath been no other but to affirm the spiritual significance of the terms 'life' 'resurrection', and 'judgment'... Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said: ‘He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come.' If by 'life' be meant this earthly life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it." [30]

According to Baha'u'llah's teachings, resurrection is the birth of the individual into spiritual life. It comes through the gift of the Holy Spirit bestowed upon man by Christ and the other Messengers of God in whatever age they may appear. The grave from which the individual arises is the grave of ignorance and negligence of God. The sleep from which he awakes is the dormant spiritual condition in which many await the dawn of the new Day of God. This dawn, or coming of the Messenger of God illuminates all who live on the face of the earth. Everyone, except those who are spiritually blind, will see and recognize it.

The present Day of Resurrection is not a day of twenty-four hours but an era which has already begun. It will last as long as men are being called from their graves of spiritual death or lack of faith and belief. The Messenger of God for this day, Baha'u'llah, is calling upon all men to arise from their graves of doubt and error, Just as Christ called to them in the reign of the Roman Caesars.

This is the true meaning behind "being born again". From spiritual death man is brought to spiritual life. Jesus said: "Ye must be born again." Whoever was quickened by His word attained unto new life, and to resurrection. It is the same in this day. Baha’u’llah has breathed the words of God upon humanity, and all those who are quickened by this life-giving spirit, attain to the day of resurrection and are thus delivered from the graves of spiritual death.

There is a verse concerning this truth in the sacred Scriptures of Islam, which says:

"When the Qa'im (Promised One) riseth that day is the Day of Resurrection." [31]

This is the day when new "life" has been bestowed upon man by God's Messenger; therefore, man has been rescued from "death".

Baha'u'llah says: 

"... the people, owing to their failure to grasp the meaning of these words, rejected and despised the person of the Manifestation [Messenger of God], deprived themselves of the light of His divine guidance, and refused to follow the example of that immortal Beauty." [32]

The teachings of Baha’u’llah's Faith state that resurrection has "nothing to do with the gross physical body. That body, once dead, is done with. It decomposes and its scattered atoms will never be recomposed into the same physical body." [33]

Jesus knew that His spirit would return, when bidden by God, in another human temple (flesh). Otherwise He would not have repeatedly warned His followers to watch and be alert for the time of His return. There would have been no need to warn them if He, Christ, were literally and physically to "return" in the clouds with "angels".

There is yet one final consideration. Suppose Christ were to descend to the earth in the flesh, what then? Who would be able to recognize Him? Even our artists have painted Him after their own imaginations. Sometimes He has fair skin, sometimes dark. Some picture Him with blue eyes and some with black; with blonde hair or brunette; slight or sturdy. After nearly two thousand years, who could possibly recognize Him? If we say, "God would assist us to recognize Him," then let us remember the following remarkable facts:

A. (John) 20: 14-15) It is less than three days since the crucifixion of Christ. Yet, Mary Magdalene does not know Christ when He appears to her. It is not 2000 years, but less than seventy-two hours.

 "... she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hast borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."

Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus had cast seven devils. Mary Magdalene, who had kept the vigil through the hour of the agony on the cross, did not recognize Christ until He called to her and said, "Mary."

What chance would strangers have nearly twenty centuries later? 

B. (John, 2.1: 4) A few days later, Jesus appeared to His disciples. He was close enough to converse with them. In spite of this, they failed to recognize Him.

"But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus."

Not until Christ had filled their net with a multitude of fish. Not until He performed a miracle, did they know it was He, Jesus. These were His chosen disciples, but a few hours after His crucifixion.

C. (Matthew, 2.8) Jesus made an appointment with His disciples in Galilee after His death.

"There they shall see me," He promised: "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted." (Matthew, 2.8: 16-17) 

Even of the chosen eleven, some doubted; although they were awaiting Jesus by appointment.

D. (Luke, 2.4: 36-37) "Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit."

They didn't know Him though he stood in their midst.

E. (Luke, 2.4: 15-16):

"... while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him."

They called Jesus "stranger" until He made Himself known unto them.

In every case, Christ made Himself known unto His closest chosen disciples by words, by miracles, or by an example. They did not know Him by their outward sight.

Now, nearly two thousand years later, how could His followers, divided into hundreds of sects, hating each other, devoid of the closeness, dedication and intimacy which Christ's disciples enjoyed, ever hope to recognize Him in the flesh? The answer is simple: They could not.

The teachings of the Baha'i Faith also liken resurrection, or the coming of a Messenger of God such as Christ or Baha'u'llah, to a spiritual springtime. In the world of nature, the Spring not only brings about the growth and awakening of new life, but also causes the destruction of the old and effete. The same sun that makes flowers grow and trees bud, also brings about the decay and disintegration of what is dead and useless. The Spring loosens the ice and melts the snow of Winter. It sets in motion the flood and the storm which cleanse and purify the earth. Following this, new life is born on all sides. Every man glories in the beautiful and fragrant resurrection of life in the Springtime after the cold Winter of a dead and frozen world.

This same process takes place in the world of man's spirit. The spiritual springtime caused by the coming of a Messenger of God, brings about similar commotion and change. Thus, the Day of Resurrection is also the Day of Judgment. The Day in which corruption and imitation of truth are discarded. Outworn ideas and customs that no longer fit the age, are done away with. The ice of prejudice and the snow of superstition which accumulated during the Winter of religious decline, are melted and transformed. Spiritual energies which have been frozen up are released to flood and renovate the world. Things that were dead come to life again in this spiritual springtime. The fruits, vegetables, and grains come to life in this new physical springtime so that man can be fed and nourished. In like manner, the spiritual springtime of the coming of the Prophet brings the spiritual foods without which mankind would wither away and die spiritually. If it were not for this spiritual resurrection, man would remain dead, buried in the grave of his animal nature.
In Baha'u'l1ah's words, resurrection, rebirth, and return all have the same fundamental meaning: the spiritually dead are resurrected from their graves of heedlessness. Those who have passed into spiritual death while living, are reborn. Those qualities of love, integrity, and justice, which have vanished from men's lives, return with the coming of God's Messenger.

Each Prophet comes from the same single heaven of the knowledge of an Infinite and Almighty God. Each brings the same light of truth to a darkened world. Hence, they are called Suns. The sun is the source of the light of day. Resurrection comes from the Latin word sugere, "to rise", with the prefix "re"· meaning again. To rise again. When the Sun of Truth, the Messenger of God, rises again on a night of earthly darkness, He-brings the Day of Resurrection. This is the Day of God that "rises again" and renews all things.

It is also the Day of Judgment. On the Day when the Messenger of God appears, all are judged by their acceptance or rejection of His Message. The sheep are separated from the goats by His appearance. The sheep recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd, and follow Him, "for they know his voice". [34]

Baha'u'llah writes:

''Behold how the generality of mankind hath been endued with the capacity to hearken unto God's most exalted Word - the Word upon which must depend the gathering together and spiritual resurrection of all men ... " [35]

From the preceding explanations, we can be sure that the resurrection of Christ is to be understood symbolically. It is plainly an inward truth: The Body of Christ's Faith was dead. It arose again with its real life of the spirit. The outward symbol of this inward truth is the story of the Resurrection.

Baha'u'llah has unsealed this spiritual or inner meaning and made it crystal clear in His Writings. The outward symbol is this: The body of Christ rose from the dead. The inward truth is this: The body of His Faith was dead because of the fear and the scattering of His followers. Through the courage' and determination of His disciples, it rose from this state of apparent extinction and appeared with its real life, that of the Spirit. It was resurrected.

This is the true meaning of resurrection.

Baha'u'llah says: "The mysteries of the Resurrection Day… have all become manifest. but the people are heedless and veiled ... " [36]

In another place, Baha’u’llah declares that it was for the purpose of helping mankind to understand this truth that He unsealed, in detail, the meanings from the sacred Books:

"O brother, behold how the inner mysteries of 'rebirth', of 'return', and of "resurrection' have each, through these all-sufficing, these unanswerable, and conclusive utterances, been unveiled and unravelled before thine eyes. God grant that through His gracious and invisible assistance, thou mayest divest thy body and soul of the old garment, and array thyself with the new and imperishable attire." [37]

1. Some Answered Questions, Part 2: xxiii
2. John, 3: 13
3. ibid, 6: 38
4. ibid, 6: 42
5. Some Answered Questions, Part 2: xxiii
6. II Kings, 2: 11
7. Caesar and Christ, pp. 573-574
8. The Rise of Christianity, p. 59
9. Mathew, 27: 52-53
10. ibid, 27: 53
11. ibid, 12: 38
12. ibid, 12: 39-40
13. Heart of the Gospel, pp. 140-141
14- Ephesians, 2: 1
15. I Timothy, 5: 6
16. James, 2: 26
17. Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 172
18. Luke, 23: 46
19. John, 6: 63
20. Mathew, 12: 41
21. I Corinthians, 15: 42, 44, 53
22. ibid, 15: 7-8
23. Beyond the Gospels, Dunkerley, p. 19
24- Cruden's Concordance, (see "resurrection", early edition only)
25. Man and His Gods, pp.187, 181,182
26. ibid, p.182
27. Luke, 16: 29-31
28. Mathew, 8: 22
29. John, 3: 6
30. Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 120
31. ibid, p. 144
32. ibid, p. 114
33. Baha’u’llah and the New Era, pp. 239-240
34 John, 10: 4
35. Gleanings, Baha'u’llah, p. 97
36. Baha'i World Faith, p. 172

- William Sears (‘The Wine of Astonishment’)