What Happened to Jesus?

From "What Happened to Jesus?"
by Walter Wink

Considering the weight the early church attached to the resurrection, it is curious that, subsequent to the empty-tomb stories, no two resurrection accounts in the four Gospels are alike.  All of these narratives seem to be very late additions to the tradition.  They answer a host of questions raised by the gospel of the resurrection.  At the core of all these accounts is the simple testimony: we experienced Jesus as alive.

A later generation that did not witness a living Jesus needed more; for them the resurrection narratives answered that need.  But what had those early disciples experienced?  What does it mean to say that they experienced Jesus alive?  The resurrection appearances did not, after all, take place in the temple before thousands of worshipers, but in the privacy of homes or cemeteries.  They did not occur before religious authorities, but to the disciples hiding from those authorities.  The resurrection was not a worldwide historic event that could have been filmed, but a privileged revelation reserved for the few.

Nevertheless, something "objective" did happen to God, to Jesus, and to the disciples.  What happened was every bit as real as any other event, only it was not historically observable.  It was an event in the history of the psyche.  The ascension was the entry of Jesus into the archetypal realm.  Though skeptics might interpret what the disciples experienced as a mass hallucination, the experience itself cannot be denied.

This is what may have happened: the very image of God was altered by the sheer force of Jesus being.  God would never be the same.  Jesus had indelibly imprinted the divine; God had everlastingly entered the human. In Jesus, God took on humanity, furthering the evolution revealed in Ezekiel's vision of Yahweh on the throne in "the likeness, as it were, of a human form" (Ezek.  1:26).  Jesus, it seemed to his followers, had infiltrated the Godhead.