It's hard to know who Jesus really was.
With the way information was passed in those days - mostly as rumor - we can't know for sure that such a man even existed. It's not hard to see how we co-opt the life of a great figure like this in support of our own dearly held views.
Jesus the great pacifist can be used to justify war against "the unbelievers." Jesus the rebel can be used to exhort submission to religious or temporal authorities. I, obviously, see Jesus as an anti-wealth liberal, and holistic-thinking-peacenik! (and master yogin, of course)
But the truth is, all of these interpretations will always say more about US than they say about HIM.
I'd love to explore the mythic Jesus for a moment, on this Easter morning. The tale of his death and resurrection presents a powerful mythic theme that can inform all of our lives and help us navigate our way in anxious times.
The death and rebirth myth of Jesus signifies the sacrifice of Rex Mundi - the "King of the World" and the (re)birth of Lux Muni - the "Light of the World". These themes are presented all throughout his teachings. Perhaps most clearly is when Satan, the Adversary, brings him to look over all the kingdoms of the land, telling him "all this could be yours." if he only switched his allegiance from the Divine, over to the ol Father of Lies. He could be King of Everything, and all he'd have to do is give up his innermost Heart.
We may not all agree on whether there be mystic beings of evil out there to tempt us, but in the lives of many holy people, this testing process has occurred - the temptation to just let go of the Path of the Heart, and settle down into a more comfortable life, even perhaps use their considerable gifts and charisma to gain great personal power.
What's wrong with this, though? Isn't it fine to long for a little comfort, a little safety? Do we all have to be some kind of renunciate or ascetic to live a life from the Heart? I don't think that's the message. I think rather it's about knowing where we have influence, and knowing what our priorities are.
Thing is, we can't control the world. The point of view of Rex Mundi is that somehow we could become so powerful that we could master all circumstances, never be surprised again, have it all figured out. From our own side, we'd finally be "good", and on the world's side, we'd finally be "safe".
But we know that this dream of control is just that - a dream. Our best laid plans are always subject to surprise, and even if we get everything we want, we still have to die at the end. Those who have come to have an identity that doesn't rest in their possessions or accomplishments have an easier time when that great transition comes than those who struggle in vain at the dimming of the light of this life.
So I think Jesus was regularly telling us that the worry, the anxiety, the frustration that can plague our lives comes from placing our focus too much on things that we don't really get to be in charge of. That doesn't mean don't vote! We're still going to brush our teeth, kiss our children, spay and neuter our (rescued/adopted) pets. But these are acts that come FROM our hearts. We're doing them as an expression of the values we hold most dear. We are radiating these values forth into the world.
When we spread our petitions, call out injustice, water our lawn from the thought that we can somehow control what is happening, it always means we bring a certain degree of tightness and upset to the situation. Not only are we more uncomfortable, but we make other people uncomfortable too! Misery loves company! Upset breeds more upset. This is the life of Rex Mundi - the one who would be King - going through the world manipulating circumstances so that all shall be according to her whim: All shall love me and despair!
Fortunately, this is not our only option. Jesus tells us of the life of Lux Mundi in an exhortation to his disciples in the book of Matthew: "“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others"
We can't micro-manage everything and always have it our way. But one thing you always can do is your best. I haven't seen the political prediction expert, astrologer, or meteorologist who can predict ALL the changes - if we're operating out of a need for control, we'll live a life of frustration and anxiety.
On the other hand, we can vow to live from our Heart. We can listen to the longings, values and inspirations from deep within, and we can manifest those in the world for all to see. It is then that Rex Mundi is put to rest, and Lux Mundi is born. It's called the Light of the World because its orientation is fundamentally Radiant. It shines out the values from its heart, rather than seeking value from outside. It brings the value to the situation.
The mystics of the world speak metaphorically that we forget that this radiant nature is available to us, and we then act as if life is for-getting. But when we recognize that life is actually for-giving, this allows us to be forgiving of things not always going our way. Who we are is not dependent on circumstances conforming to our wishes. Who we are can shine even more brightly when our world needs more light.
Just like the mythic Christ allowed the "King of Judea" to die to this life on a cross (symbol of "worldly concerns" in many ancient traditions), only to be born into a body of Light, we too can learn to put to rest the anxiety, frustration, and fatigue of trying to control an infinitely dynamic and changing universe. "Who, by worrying can add a single moment to their life?" Matthew 6:27
We can place our focus where it belongs - on the life of the soul - our "soul" being the deepest values whispering our heart. We can ask, as Christ did "what price can you put on that soul?" Even if we gained the whole world but had to lose our innermost Heart - it would be a bad trade.
On this Easter morn I pray that even while many of our plans are being cancelled, even though we might be facing loss, sickness, or death, there is a deathless presence of compassion that lives in the cave of our hearts. Let us roll the stone away, and let the Light of the World be reborn!