Continued from last week’s Back to Life blog, today we’re going to look at the Back to Life trope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
After all, Jesus’ return from the grave is arguably the most famous resurrection in all of history. It’s the “reason for the season” every year at Easter. It’s celebrated by most of the world. We all know the story…
The Short Version
Jesus was only 33 when the religious leaders of his day decided they’d had enough.
He had been a traveling preacher for three years already. Jesus was a powerful preacher—very different from the calm, deferential ways of the religious leaders. The people were completely taken with Jesus and his bold messages.
One of Jesus’ followers, Judas Iscariot, had a grudge. At a festival, Jesus called him out for greed in front of everyone, and Judas couldn’t let it go. So he went to the religious leaders and agreed to betray Jesus to them for a set price of 30 silver coins (somewhere between $100-$400). Judas took a group of guards directly to the place that Jesus was staying, and the guards arrested Jesus.
He was taken to the religious leaders, who immediately conducted an illegal, unfair, midnight trial. He was found guilty of blasphemy against God and sentenced to death. Then he was taken away, and for the next several hours, he endured some of the most horrific torture known to man. He died a horrible, cruel death for crimes he did not commit.
All of his followers were devastated, as to be expected. They buried his body in a cave and left a huge stone at the entrance, then mourned.
Three days later, three women came to the tomb to embalm his body. When they arrived, the stone laid on the ground nearby. The cave was empty. Jesus was nowhere to be found.
Over the next 40 days, Jesus traveled and spoke to many of his followers. Not a single doubt remained in their minds. Jesus was well and truly alive…somehow.
Jesus’ death and resurrection are well-documented and historically proven events. The Bible is far from the only manuscript to describe and attest to these events. People around the world hold faith in Jesus and have for millenia.
And yet no one truly knows how Jesus was resurrected.
Before Christians get angry and drag me to an illegal midnight trial, let me explain. There are hundreds of verses that reference the resurrection of Christ, using words like “rise from the dead” (John 20:9), “God raised up his servant” (Acts 3:26), and this passage from Luke 24:
“He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day rise again.'”
The Back to Life trope usually consists of a resurrection conceived by some clever means, whether it’s magic/sorcery, some form of science, an elaborate fakery, or a result of fate/prophecy. Jesus’ story seems rather confusing, though.
Throughout the Bible, as we discussed in The Messiah Trope, there are many prophecies about the coming Christ. When the time came, Jesus indeed went from alive to dead to alive again in a matter of days. However, no explanation was given other than “God raised him from the dead.” This makes placing his story in a specific category rather difficult.
As we can see, there is certainly an element of fate and prophecy to Jesus’ story. Throughout the books written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, prophecies from hundreds of years prior are mentioned many times.
However, the religious leaders tried to make Jesus’ resurrection seem like it was simply an elaborate fakery. They actually paid off the guards who saw an angel at the tomb. And according to Matthew 28:12-15, the ruse worked. For years and years, many Jews didn’t believe he had actually come back to life!
The story of Jesus even seems to have a fantastical element, given his previous escapades. I mean, there are stories about a number of jaw-dropping miracles, close calls with demon-possessed people and angry villagers, and a lot of teachings that sound eerily similar to Aesop’s fables. He made food literally multiply, had incredible moments of telepathy, and actually walked on water. Tell me that doesn’t sound like every fantasy “quest of the chosen one” in existence.
In fact, the only category we can’t put this story into is science fiction.
Does It Matter?
Considering all of this, let’s just be honest.
Jesus’ story is weird.
He follows every trope one can think of, then breaks them. There’s a beginning, a middle, and a twist to each one! I think it’s really fascinating to discover these crazy elements embedded in ancient history.
However, in all of my analyzing, one question remains: Does it matter?
Jesus could make or break every trope in history, and I could analyze and dissect each one.
But in the end, the truth is that these events really did happen, and no amount of analyzation or dissection will change that. Jesus’ story is unbelievably outlandish, which is why faith is the only way we can get into heaven. We must choose to believe that it really did happen, even if we find it hard put his story in a neat and tidy category.
What Do You Think?
So what do you think of his story? Which category of the Back to Life trope do you think fits him best? Should we even bother trying to categorize his story?
Let me know by shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or dropping a comment below!
Come back next week for more exploration of tropes! If you don’t want to miss it, click here and drop your email. I won’t let you down!