Emanuel Swedenborg offers us a different interpretation of the Easter story
It is Easter morning – a celebration of rebirth!
The Story of Easter in the Bible:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Suffering on the cross was the final trial the Lord underwent as the greatest prophet. It was a means of glorifying his human nature, that is, of uniting that to his Father’s divine nature. It was not redemption TC 114:6
Swedenborg said that God came to the earth as Jesus to help affirm love and make angels more accessible to humans. Jesus was born fully human, with the inner Divine potential we all have. Every time he overcame temptation, his human was more fully transformed into the Divine. The 40 days in the desert, the pleas in the garden of Gethsemane, and then his crucifixion on the cross were all temptations to walk away from his Divine potential; to choose to live by his ego desires. When he said on the cross, “Father, why have you abandoned me?” he was facing his last temptation – to see this horrible pain as an abandonment by God. Then when he said, “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” he became fully glorified. He came into union with God. Thus was created what Swedenborg called the Divine Human: the complete union of divinity and humanity. The resurrection shows us that we all are on a path to union with the Divine. Each temptation we overcome helps us move closer.
Swedenborg’s Easter is not about the death of the human ego or about the salvation of the sinful soul. It’s about allowing our humanity to become transformed in the presence of the Divine. The whole of the life Jesus Christ spent on Earth was a lesson to mankind to overcome one temptation after another in a quest to become a Divine Human – to come into union with the Lord. The culmination of this quest was the final temptation – the crucifixion.
We are each examples of the story of human and divine coming into oneness, with many times of renewed awareness of our union. Let the Easter season be a time for you to see all the ways that Spirit renews and reshapes you everyday. And also consider all the ways that you renew all of creation through living the expression of you most authentic self. We truly are all part of the web of creation, and we each change that web every moment. The web, after all, is God. It is Divine Love and Wisdom, of which we all are apart.
Let this Easter season be a time to celebrate our glorious union – with the Divine and with each other.
Attribution: Swedenborgian Community