Arnold told Noah that most Jews never considered the rumor true in scripture that Jesus’ body had been taken by his followers and hidden to support their story that Jesus was resurrected.
“Balderdash,” Arnold said. “Even the most radical Jew would never touch, much less unwrap and move, a deceased body. Modern Jews just file the Jesus movement with the followers of the Buddha and Muhammed. Lots of legend mixed in with a real person’s life. Now, though, I’m flummoxed by this Jesus returning. It’s romantically, yet harshly, messianic.”
(Fourth in a series on the return of Jesus Christ)
Noah grappled with the consequence of his personal experience with Jesus Christ. He was enthused by this newfound, or maybe awakened, relationship. Yet, Noah was conflicted with how he could now relate with his peer group at work. His ability to remain aloof, skeptical and cautious had been compromised.
No longer could Noah rely upon a common, largely unspoken, journalistic agreement where personal, experiential divine and revelatory stuff provided no serious contribution. His psyche had been re-oriented, from astute commentator to rattled, inspired, and now transforming man.
As an observer, calculating his daily tasks around the Holy One’s return as a big stage event, Noah’s normal mezzanine position of the news landscape had vanished. Jesus ignored the accepted paths for celebrity. Journalists looked primarily for a public interface of a king waving to his crowds of admirers, mixed in with some fireside chats where he would assure his detractors and enemies that he came in peace.
In fact, so far, Jesus had done none of those things. Not one interview had yet been held. Not one announced appearance. Not one airport arrival, and not one live and loud crowd-thumping speech. Everything captured so far had been personal contacts in very small groups, shared on social media through jiggly ad hoc cell phone audio, video and snapshots from mostly amateur folks.
Journalist attitudes ranged from confusion to anger. Noah had gingerly offered a different approach in an interoffice blog that his fellow journalists should shift and follow the actual contacts that Jesus provided, and forgo the popularity path. He explained his own dualistic development, a Jesus sighting followed with what can only be understood as an indwelling, the Spirit living within him. His witness of Jesus, albeit through a one degree of separation — his grandchildren’s encounter — stood as indisputable evidence, in his mind and heart.
“You have been coopted,” said several of Noah’s cohorts. Only the business desk editor seemed comfortable with the changes suggested by Noah. Arnold Cohen heard Noah out and agreed that news reporters, and even analysts, had to change their approach since the arrival of Jesus and his retinue of staff (the saints), the largest army, or maybe field consultants, in human history.
“We must adapt,” Arnold said. “Jesus connects with people through a completely different, and unique way. People want to know what’s going on, but he’s operating on a communication path unfamiliar to us.” He looked intensely at Noah. “You’re getting familiar with it, though, aren’t you?”
Noah nodded, but hesitated to talk personally with Arnold. He knew of Arnold’s outward faith, a semi-orthodox Jew as Noah understood it. Arnold celebrated the Jewish feast days, and had made subtle comments about Christian influence on culture.
The editor sensed Noah’s uneasiness, and spoke openly, with several writers and editors hanging around the conference room after assignments were discussed. “My Jewish faith is no longer forbidden territory, Noah,” Arnold said, still sitting while others were standing, drumming his fingernails on the table. “Did you hear what Jesus said today?”
Shoulders turned and arms gathered notebooks and tablets as everyone sauntered smoothly out of the room when Noah sat down, directly across from Arnold. The news staff recognized the personal nature of Arnold’s gaze at Noah, and in herd mentality exposed their own uncertainly regarding the Jewish editor’s opening of said gate into forbidden territory.
“What?” Noah asked. “He’s saying stuff all day long.” The room emptied.
“We have one Father, God,” Arnold said, reading a Twitter capture on his handheld tablet. He quoted Jesus talking to a handful of Jews in Brooklyn just that morning. “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.’”
“Yeah,” I saw that. Noah had referenced the account from Jesus in John’s Gospel where Jesus chastised a presumed group of Pharisees that they’d rather have him killed than believe he was sent from God.
“It’s straight out of the Gospel of John,” Arnold said, as Noah nodded, impressed. “Not an hour later, he pops up in Cairo. Did you hear about that?”
“He declared at a Coptic Christian Church right in the middle of Cairo that it was a sanctuary. He told the Christians who worship there that they can walk in safety anywhere. He said the angels will protect them.”
“Holy cow,” Noah said.
“He is quoted as saying, uh,” he clicked through some pages on his notebook screen, looking over the rim of his glasses. “Here it is.” He read it slowly, looking over at Noah every few words, “Blessed be God the Father, who sends his angels to deliver the servants who trust in him. You will not be harmed, because you worship God as my Father. You are my brothers, and no longer slaves to anyone. You are all sons and daughters of the Father.”
Noah felt the warmth of the words, and he smiled. “Yeah, sounds like him. He’s very consistent,” Arnold said. He paused, not sure how to put it. “All this language is quoted from both old, er the Torah, and new testament scripture someplace. He wasn’t too nice to the Jews in John, though. What do you thing about what he saying now?”
“Well, Jesus is very much the same Jew he always was, Noah. Blunt, in an inviting way. He wears pants and shoes like any other middle-aged guy, though. Nothing ostentatious. Seeing him, and hearing these words strikes me with a de ja vu logic.”
“Jews don’t argue about Jesus much. He died, and lots of us haven’t drunk the Kookaid, sorry, Koolaid of his resurrection. If it’s really him, suggesting that God is Father, Son and Spirit, then his challenges take on new meaning. We would be foolish to consider having him killed again,” he snorted. “I’ve heard some chatter that uprisings to go after him are bound to happen.”
Arnold told Noah that most Jews never considered the rumor true in scripture that Jesus’ body had been taken by his followers and hidden to support their story that Jesus was resurrected. “Balderdash,” Arnold said. “Even the most radical Jew would never touch, much less unwrap and move, a deceased body. Modern Jews just file the Jesus movement with the followers of the Buddha and Muhammed. Lots of legend mixed in with a real person’s life. Now, though, I’m flummoxed by this Jesus returning. It’s romantically, yet harshly, messianic.”
“You haven’t had a Jesus, uh, a personal encounter, like I had, have you?” Noah wondered.
“No, but his possible return is extremely personal for a lot of us.” Arnold hesitated, and then leaned across the table, closer to Noah. “Did you hear the rumor where he first came back?”
Noah moved his head left and right, not really saying, “No,” but rummaging through the many rumors — Rome, Washington DC, a desert town in Turkey, the Wailing Wall, and some others.
“What did you hear?”
“Four different locations at the Temple Mount are cited. You know the Temple Mount area?”
“Not really,” Noah said.
“Well, it’s significant, if his first returned sightings are correct. All just rumors, but that’s where the Dome of the Rock is located, where the Muslim’s and the Jews debate over the space.” Noah frowned, a mix of wonder and worry. “It’s most likely the place where Acts reported Jesus’ ascension in to heaven, and where angels, or some prophets, said he would come back.”
“Who has reported on it?”
“Nobody, yet, just social media. It’s strange, too. Nothing’s been pinned down. It’s one reason I like this guy,” Arnold smiled. Noah saw the smile and smiled back. They were the only two people in the building that Noah thought were smiling, though. His body warmed, the same feeling he’s had since he was handed his wallet. He was certain the Spirit was with him, and he welcomed it.
The fluid nature of Jesus joined up with the already dubious and totally invisible nature of the Holy Spirit. Both Jesus and the Spirit seemed to be working together in harmony, making a physical stop-motion analysis practically impossible. More and more, the folks who reported Jesus encounters also reported a follow-up, interpersonal involvement and ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit. Noah hadn’t yet put his finger on how that took place, but he had been experiencing the same thing.
Jesus came just two blocks from his house to a playground, where he attended to the hearts of his grandchildren with unforgettable ease and merciful care. He then orchestrated the return of Noah’s wallet, a kind response to a flippant, doubtful man’s request. Noah added himself, with a cautious optimism, to a growing and lucky line of fortunate and budding believers.
“I read your latest blog, Noah,” said Arnold.
The highly personal nature of Jesus’ engagements drained the value of news reporters typical methodology — as the dissemination of news had developed over the past century, anyway. Noah realized that in order to objectively report on the return of Jesus Christ, he and other journalists needed to simply accept the veracity of his appearances, engage Jesus as a person, and recognize the Holy Spirit’s partnership with Jesus and each person who had met him. Noah had written about his own experience with Jesus in his blog, and the social media editor had put a hold on publishing it.
Noah’s cohorts were not agreeable to such a shift in news gathering tactics. They found the presence of Jesus Christ a murky development, and considered engagement with Jesus and the often referred Holy Spirit as unprofessional. To succumb, as it were, to the influence of Jesus and his Holy Spirit means leaving the practical world of observation and journaling. Noah disagreed, though not with much success.
One could suggest, and almost all of Noah’s peers had been saying, that Jesus was more apparition than appearance. In only seven weeks, Jesus could be accounted for by many millions of personal contacts, each substantiated by convinced witnesses with undeniable digital proof of some sort. But no legitimate news agency coverage could be found. These encounters were additionally overwhelmed by the constant and irreversible relationships that everyone had with hundreds of millions of saints that returned with Jesus.
News reporters, though, never seemed to be ahead of the story, both overwhelmed by the increasing reach of Jesus and the saints and incapable of establishing his mission and agenda in a pattern. Other than the repetitive, though comprehensive, references to scripture and Jesus' seeming urging for spiritual interpersonal persistence with God the Father, himself, and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ appearances at revered holy places around the globe confused the analysts. Their scriptural, theological and religious knowledge amounted to kindergarten levels of stacking wooden blocks and playing in water sprinklers. They were out of their league.
Arnold and Noah made up a local news crew of two who felt a different approach to reporting must take place, but with no real outlet for their thinking.
Or so they thought.