The Quest for Jesus' Bones
April 27, 2007 01:56
We found this Easter sermon on the internet recently, found it both fascinating as well as beautiful, and wanted to share..... [Eds]
The Quest for Jesus' Bones
Dr. Jon Burnham preached this sermon from John 20:1-18
on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007 at Batesville Presbyterian Church
Where's Waldo? is a hide and seek style game that my children enjoyed playing when they were small children. The game consists of finding Waldo who is hiding somewhere within a crowded background of people and objects. Where's Waldo is a fun game for small children. As adults we play similar games. For instance, we all enjoy playing the where's Jesus game. Now some archaeologists and film makers have made a movie called The Lost Tomb of Jesus that claims to have found the long buried bones of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Lost Tomb of Jesus , a made for TV movie that aired on the Discovery Channel on March 4, 2007. The documentary claims to have found the bones of Jesus in a 2,000-year-old tomb containing 10 boxes of bones. Two millennia ago, the dead were left to decompose in a cave and their bones collected a year later and buried in bone boxes or ossuaries. The movie claims that inscriptions on six of 10 ossuaries found in a single tomb indicate that there is a 1 in 600 chance that bones in the tomb were those of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and a son, along with other family members, a press release said.
Not everyone is convinced the movie makers have found the bones of Jesus. For instance, Professor Kloner of Hebrew University, who oversaw the original archaeological dig 27 years ago, says: "It makes a great story for a TV film, but it's completely impossible. It's nonsense. Since Jesus was from the Galilee area, there is no way he and his relatives would have had a family tomb in Jerusalem." And Hebrew University archaeologist Leah DiSegni said that the names found in the tomb were among the most common names of the day. It would be like finding a tomb with the name "George" on it in the future and people asserting that it must have been the tomb of President George Bush," says DiSegni.
It's not only the professionals who doubt the movie, an informal survey by the Kansas City Star newspaper found that 73% believed that the Jesus tomb had not been found. Moreover, 73% of the people said their faith would not be effected even if the movie were true. Count me among the 73% whose faith would not be affected if it was definitely proven that the tomb contains the remains of Jesus Christ.
This movie is the latest participant in a long line of people who have been searching for the bones of Jesus. The quest for Jesus bones started on the first Easter Sunday when Mary Magdalene went to his tomb in a quest for the bones of Jesus. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?"
This is where our Western culture is today. We are weeping because we can't find the bones of Jesus. Many of us left behind our pre-rational view of the world when we became adults. We no longer find meaning in playing the "Where's Waldo" game in regard to Jesus. We went to college with a pre-rational faith and met professors who challenged us to move toward the rational level of faith. What so many people fail to understand is that there is a rational level of Christian faith and even a post-rational level of Christian faith. Developmental psychologist James Fowler contributed much to our understanding of the levels of faith development and Ken Wilber has carried the torch even further with books such as A Brief History of Everything. Beyond the "Where's Waldo" pre-rational stage of faith there is the rational level of faith, and there are levels of faith beyond the rational level. Centering prayer is the best spiritual discipline I have found for moving toward the next level of faith consciousness. I invite you all to the centering prayer workshop this Saturday at All Saints Church in Grenada. Come learn the benefits of speding time in the silence and darkness of your own unconscious self.
Mary Magdalene is standing inside a tomb looking for Jesus' bones and she is about to be taken beyond the rational level of faith. She sees someone with her in the tomb and she thinks it must be the gardener who tends to the tombs. "They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognize him. Jesus was standing right there in front of her but she didn't see him. Let me reread that line from the Gospel According to John so we don't miss it. This is the key sentence: Jesus was standing right there in front of her but she didn't see him.
Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?" She was weeping because she couldn't find the bones of Jesus. In fact, Jesus was standing right there in front of her but she couldn't perceive that is was him. Sadly, we have the same problem. We search for Jesus bones in the church, in the sermon, and in the Bible. Yet we can't find Jesus even when he is standing right in front of us. Like Mary Magdalene, we don't expect to see Jesus alive today. We come to church but we don't really expect to meet Jesus. He is standing right there in front of us and we don't recognize him.
When we go home today we can say to our children: "I have seen the Lord!" We have seen the Lord in the feet of the children that came scuttling down the aisle for the children's sermon this morning. We have heard the Lord singing in the sound of your voices singing hymns and from the choir as they sang the anthem. Look around and notice who is sitting beside you, in front and behind you. Look closely at them and you may see Jesus bones. Don't go home weeping because you can't find Jesus. He will be riding with you on your way home. Look at yourself in the mirror and you will see him.According to the Apostle Paul you and I are the body of Christ. We are the bones of Jesus! Look around this sanctuary this morning and you will see the bones of Jesus because we are the body of Christ.
Mary Magdalene is not the only person who has seen the risen Christ. You and I have seen him too on this Easter Sunday! All our lives we have been on a quest to find the bones of Jesus. All this time he was standing right there in front of us and we didn't recognize him. We never expected Jesus would be hiding within the bones of our loved ones, our family, our friends, our neighbors both here and abroad. We never imagined we could look beneath our skin and find the bones of Jesus. Yet we are the bones of Jesus. So let's join Mary Magdalene, saying: "I have seen the Lord." I have seen the Lord today, in you, and you, and me. I have seen the Lord today in all of us, in we. We don't need an ancient ossuary or a movie to help us find the bones of Jesus. For those with eyes to see, he is right here in our very midst today.
So let's do what Mary Magdalene did on Easter Sunday. Let's go tell everyone we know the good news that we have seen the risen Christ. And if tomorrow or the next day you forget what the risen Christ looks like; Or if you begin to doubt that you really saw Jesus here this morning, do this: Go stand in front a mirror and look yourself squarely in the eyes and say, "These are the eyes of the risen Christ!" Recognize in yourself the risen Christ for truly he lives in you. Recognize in others the risen Christ for absolutely he lives in them. Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: "I saw the Master!" And she told them everything he said to her.
Look with the eyes of your heart and see the risen Christ in yourself and others. Go share the good news! We have found the bones of Jesus. All this time they were right in front of our eyes: Hidden beneath the cloak of our skin.
We are the bones of Jesus. So let's use Jesus' bones in our hands to heal the sick. Let's use Jesus' bones in our fingers to feed the hungry. Let's use Jesus bones in our feet to bring good news to the poor. We do these thing because that is what Jesus did with his bones when he walked this earth 2000 years ago; and that is what Jesus wants to do with our bones today. Jesus is counting on us to do these things for him and take care of his business on earth. We are the only bones he has available now. We are the bones of Jesus on earth 2007 years after that first Easter Sunday. Let's use his bones in our bodies to continue his work in the world today. Now we have completed the quest for Jesus bones and discovered a great mystery. We have learned the post-rational truth that we are the bones of Jesus. We are convinced that we are the body of Christ. We pledge to God, to one another, and to ourselves, to live into that truth in the Easter season that spreads before us; for we are the bones of Jesus.