Buenos noches, compadres.
Jesus died, and he rose from the dead. Incidentally that was not so impressive during that time. People “died” all the time and then “woke up” or were “revived.” Maybe they weren’t dead in the modern sense of the word, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they really died and they really rose from their deaths in obedience to God. The Bible features people that were not Jesus being resurrected by Jesus and his gang. For me to believe in the Bible, it means that I have to believe that people that were not fully God were dead and brought back to life. For you to believe in the resurrection, you don’t have to give full credence in the Bible, but I think one belief begets another.
So what then? If rising from the dead is just a parlor trip, what does Jesus have to do with it? Anyone can come alive again. Why is he so special?
The question of why Jesus is special makes me chuckle. If you cast aside that which appears to be mysticism – like the virgin birth – the miracles – his bravery and his speech set him aside. He is clever, able to answer any question but able to keep the information to himself when it is the right thing to do. He is never and always appropriate – he listens to his mother – even thought it’s not His time- and makes all this wine from plain water. He mouths off to the high priest when He could have just let the subject drop (and save his life) and finds himself convicted of blasphemy. He gets an adulterous woman’s charges dropped and her would-be-executioners stones to drop. I’ve heard the argument that he was having religious delusions. I don’t know your background, but I’ve been around people with religious delusions. They go around talking about demons or mistake family members for John the Baptist. They don’t banter and they can’t form cognoscente sentences, let alone reply to questions about their beliefs. Things just are.
In my time and space in the hospital, I encountered two deeply religious people. I do not count myself a deeply religious person in the hospital because I do not want to get in trouble and have “pre-occupation with religious pursuits” written again on my records. I bring my Bible, but don’t draw anyone out in to conversation. If I was asked, I would speak about my beliefs and Jesus, but mostly I keep it to myself.
Of those two people, there was one I would call crazy. She came and told the nurse I was talking to that there were demons at the edge of her bed. The nurse asked her compassionate yet probing questions and I promised to pray for her. Then I cracked up inside until I saw her hands, which looked like they had been washed over and over again. It sounds like OCD, but I have OCD and I never wash my hands. (Good to know next time I want to share nachos with you!)
The non-crazy guy was a devout Muslim. He was a big guy – hefty. Not blubbery, but if he was not in the wheelchair he could have been intimidatingly large. He once took a butcher’s knife and stabbed himself in the belly, narrowly missing any sort of vital organ. He thanked Allah for his protection and for the car accident that made him meek. He prayed every few hours in his room. He would dismiss himself from listening to music with us during (big waste of my time) music therapy time. His life aligned with his beliefs, even if the chemicals in his body were off-kilter. A suicide attempt that does not mean someone is crazy. He was devout believer; I did not see him as nuts. I considered him to be closer in line with Jesus’ actions than the poor, tortured girl. I don’t believe good medicine could fix the Muslim man. The girl? Maybe she was being teased by the demons. But maybe they hadn’t found the right anti-psychotic.
And I can say that because I take the right anti-psychotic.
Tomorrow I will talk about the empty tomb. Tonight I need to have a bowl of cereal and my medications and go to bed.
Shout out to my homey, T, in Las Vegas tonight – hey baby, keep losing that change!