Easter Anxiety

Though I was ready to buy almost any story I heard, I found Easter pretty unlikely when I was a kid. Jesus is sold out by his friends, denied by his legions of followers, killed in a horrible way, buried in a cave, and then after three days emerges, relatively unperturbed as to recent events.

Nah. Never bought it.

Part of my disbelief hinges on the pictures. In the hundreds of artist representations depicting Easter that I saw growing up, above my grandmom’s living room couch or in all of my grade schools, Jesus always seemed a bit wiser, calmer, inspired, a whole lot holier, and maybe a bit roughed up. He definitely appeared ready to move on up to the next place.

Of course now I look at those pictures with a different perspective. With more experience, I see a dude resurrected, climbing out of a pit after a long dark winter, both literal and figurative. Sticking with that metaphor, in the pictures it’s the beginning of spring, lighter, easier going. In almost all of these pictures, sunlight is dramatically present.

I always supposed that the whole scene was meant to convey Jesus’ transition from man to God. Coming out of the grave. Rebirth. In better condition. Transition from man to God. The sunlight. God, grace, optimism, divinity. The liberation from earth and the ascendance to Heaven. But now I think that’s all a crock.

Jesus may look well-rested, godly, and spiritual, but there’s no way he’s not a little pissed off. He was denied three times by his strongest supporter, betrayed by his best friend who then killed himself, and still has to figure out how to make everyone OK with Mary Magdalene. His entire follower base went against him in the end, and at the very best it was all organized by his dad.

Moreover, he’s probably anxious as hell. If Jesus really was granted divine omnipotence either before or after his death, he has to realize that his whole story has just kicked off an eternal war that has not even yet begun. At its best, it would be debated for the rest of time, cause self-doubt, struggle, and pain. At its worst, it would go on to instigate countless wars across the globe, and cause millions of deaths and people tortured in the unwavering confidence granted by sanctimony and theological justification.

There’s no way Jesus didn’t have some serious anxiety, which I can understand. The Easter pictures show him so godly and inspired, which isn’t something I can really commiserate with. Anxiety? Hell yes. Show me some Easter pictures of Jesus coming out of the grave with a face full of worry, eyes already starting to crinkle under concern. Show me an Easter picture of Jesus wringing his hands on the shroud of Torin or popping a Xanax to cope with the stress. Let me see a picture of Jesus checking his messages every five minutest to make sure that everything is OK. That’s a picture I’d hang above my living room couch.

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