Mary Baker Eddy wrote:
“The great Nazarene, as meek as he was mighty, rebuked the hypocrisy, which offered long petitions for blessings upon material methods, but cloaked the crime, latent in thought, which was ready to spring into action and crucify God’s anointed.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 597)
Jesus knew the Scriptures. He was as familiar with the prophet Isaiah as we are familiar with the lyrics of our favorite songs or the words of our most revered poets. But Jesus took his knowledge beyond pride in memorization. He thoroughly trusted the Scriptures to guide him – and us – step by step to solutions to life’s problems.
Isaiah promises a refuge for us in those hours of our greatest need:
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. (Isa 59:19)
- “spirit of the Lord” means “wind, exhalation, expression.”
- “lift up a standard against him” actually means “put to flight, escape, hide.” (Other places in the Bible, like in Isaiah 62:10, the root word translated as "standard" means "flag", but not here in Isaiah 59.)
So Isaiah is really speaking of God’s creation or expression, being scooped up and hidden away when confronted with a flood of evil.
For Jesus, the tomb was a hideaway out of the sight and hearing of whatever would oppose him. Jesus was buried, and to material sense he was most certainly dead. But in actual spiritual fact, Jesus was the individual, undying reflection of divine Life. Jesus embodied Christ - the true understanding of God, and of man as God's image and likeness. Christ Jesus was forever alive, conscious and engaged in important work before, during and after the human experience of crucifixion.
In the Glossary of Science and Health, we find a definition of the term "Burial" that exposes the use of the word in scripture, and the truth of Christ Jesus’ tomb experience:
“Burial. Corporeality and physical sense put out of sight and hearing; annihilation. Submergence in Spirit; immortality brought to light.” (582)
“The lonely precincts of the tomb gave Jesus a refuge from his foes, a place in which to solve the great problem of being. His three days’ work in the sepulchre set the seal of eternity on time. He proved Life to be deathless and Love to be the master of hate.” (44)
Jesus’ three days work “set the seal of eternity on time,” and changed the world. That is, three days of work in the tomb. While we may not always, at this present time, avoid the graphic explosions of evil, Isaiah's prophecy is fulfilled. When evil pours in on us, around us, like a flood, God gives us a sanctuary where we, too, can withdraw from the battle-bloodied scene and do the work of Christ - of understanding Life as God, and of understanding man as the eternal, vibrant, powerful expression of Life - that makes a real difference in the world. This sanctuary is our tomb.
Under the marginal heading of "Spiritual sanctuary," Mary Baker Eddy wrote:
“’When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and, when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.’
“So spake Jesus. The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth, and vice versa. The Father in secret is unseen to the physical senses, but He knows all things and rewards according to motives, not according to speech. To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error.” (ibid. 14:31-13)
Jesus understood the drama of human experience. He understood the need for faithful practitioners of Christ to defend themselves from the temptations that could distract them from doing the work of healing in the world. For example, the temptations:
- to flee before, to wallow in, to be shocked by, to be angry over sin, hatred and death,
- to believe that a lie is more powerful than the truth,
- to accept that evil is more effective than good,
- to imagine that hatred is more attractive than love,
- to deduce that death is more permanent than life.
So here is an Easter response to terror: Turn off the television and other media that would pull you into the drama-show of fear and evil and anger and death. Get into your tomb (the sanctuary of Spirit) and pray so that nothing distracts you from understanding and proving that God, Good, is the only Life and power governing all, is All.
Christ Jesus' tomb-time was essential to his resurrection. His resurrection is also ours. He showed the way. This Easter, the world needs your work in the tomb. Your prayers will make a difference.