Easter — another holiday weekend with religious origins, but what is it all about? The significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ seems to get lost in stories about the coming of the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts. I have always deeply felt the darkness of Good Friday and the beautiful promise of Easter Sunday, from the time I was very young, but it has only been since A Course in Miracles came into my life that I have found what I believe to be the true teaching of the crucifixion and resurrection. Allow me to share what Easter has come to mean to me, thanks to the wisdom of the teachings in A Course in Miracles.
On the surface, the crucifixion seems to demonstrate the worst of attacks upon the man who proclaimed himself the Son of God. Jesus, who taught about God’s Love and who demonstrated many miracles of healing, was subjected to betrayal, attack, beatings, judgment, and a horrible death. The crucifixion appears to be the darkest of times for those who believe in God. But, is it the darkest of times, or does it provide an opportunity to show that nothing — not attack nor persecution of any sort — can harm a Son of God?
I was brought up as a Christian, and from the beginnings of my Sunday School classes through confirmation classes to participation in church services as an adult, I was taught that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins and that because of His supreme sacrifice, I could believe that my sins would be forgiven. I accepted this, and I poured my heart out to God, thanking Him for the gift of His Son who died for our sins and begging His forgiveness of my sins. What does this teaching presuppose? I am sinful, and I am in need of forgiveness so that I might be saved from the eternal fires of Hell. This teaching also perpetuates the image of God as a paternalistic figure whose mercy I must rely on to be saved from my sinful nature.
I have come to question that dated image. The God that I have grown to know so intimately is not a vengeful ruler from whom I need to seek mercy. The God I know within the depth of my being is Absolute Love beyond anything I have words to describe. God does not see me or you as sinful. We are God’s Children, created as Divine expressions of His Love. We do not need to beg His forgiveness for being inherently bad. Rather, He sees our inherent goodness and the beauty of our souls. He sees who we are as His Sons and Daughters, no matter how separated we may feel from Him and no matter how long we remain lost in forgetting who we really are.
So what does all this have to do with the meaning of Easter? Through the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus taught us that it may appear to our egos that assault can be made on the body, but that nothing can destroy who we really are as God’s children, as spiritual beings of Light and Love. We often react angrily to situations in life as if we are being persecuted, and we believe that attack against another is justified. This means that we believe that we can be persecuted, but Jesus showed us through His submission to the crucifixion and then His resurrection that nothing can destroy what God has created for we are eternal beings.
As Jesus tells us on pages 92 –96 of the text in A Course in Miracles, “… I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share in this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you… If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution. This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realize his own salvation. Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realize that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger.”
I am always reminded of how Jesus submitted to His persecutors and how He prayed when He was hanging on the cross, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” He did not lash out at His tormentors in anger, nor did he call upon the wrath of God. He knew who He was as God’s Son, and He understood that His destruction was impossible. He also recognized that the cause of His assault and crucifixion was fear projected onto Him by other Sons of God who did not remember who they were. What He asks us to understand is that nothing can harm who we really are as God’s Children, and that if we react in anger to anyone, we are misperceiving what is real. When we perceive that another can hurt us, we demonstrate that we believe that we can be hurt. We are allowing fear to cloud our vision. What is truth is that we are eternal and that nothing can hurt us. It is only because we have separated from God and allowed our egos to misguide us into thinking we are destructible and that we have to protect ourselves from attack that we have fallen victim to choices and behaviours based on fear.
Jesus continues by saying, “… Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever… I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not harmed anyone and had healed many… You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgment of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme. I will with God that none of his Sons should suffer. The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its wholeness… The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear: Teach only love, for that is what you are. If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended….”
In A Course in Miracles, Jesus explains that He is our elder Brother and that we are Love, as He is, and as God is. He asks that we learn the lesson of love that He taught in his crucifixion and resurrection. He asks that we know, to the depths of our beings, that we are eternal, Divine spiritual beings, as are all of our Brothers and Sisters. When we are tempted to react in anger at what we perceive to be an assault or persecution by another, He asks that we live, breathe, and teach only Love, knowing that Love is what we are, and that the only way that we can help our Brothers and Sisters remember who they really are is by seeing Christ in each of them and by being the example of Love that Jesus was on the Cross.
Jesus concludes this section of Chapter 6, The Lessons of Love, by saying, “Remember that the Holy Spirit is the Communication Link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves. When you perceive only this need in them, and do not respond to any other, you will have learned of me and will be as eager to share your learning as me.”
My prayer for you and me this Easter is that we learn the lesson of Love that Jesus taught in His crucifixion and resurrection, and that we teach it by being living examples of unconditional Love. I pray that we can live in the knowledge that, as God’s Children, we cannot be hurt, nor can we hurt another. Let us understand that we have allowed our egos to create these fear-based illusions of attack and destruction. We have allowed ourselves to believe that we need to protect ourselves from harm. Let us remember that, as illusions, they are not what is real. Only what God created is real, and any illusion based on fear is not part of His creation. Let us see with the eyes of God and respond to the Christ in each of our Brothers and Sisters. Let our lives be a testament to the living lesson of Easter. Namaste, my spiritual Brothers and Sisters.