descent from the cross
and the aftermath

Descent from the cross
and the aftermath

Epilogue Easter night



Now we must give an account of events after the Master’s earthly death, for from the earliest days truth has been subjected to the whitewash of pious imagination so that what really happened was hidden from
posterity. –
The pious tale does indeed carry the kernel of truth within it; whoever can comprehend it despite its shell will not be deceived.
Truly the Luminary ‘rose up’ from his earthly grave, but the earthly form could no longer serve him as the vehicle of his being in his ‘resurrection’.
Truly the Luminary is still near this earth, and is visible to his brothers, who are working in their earthly form of appearance, in his spiritual form of appearance which fully corresponds to the earthly form of his existence as known to his disciples. –
But all this cannot prevent what happened after the earthly death of the Master from continuing to have significance for posterity.
So let us present what is manifest to the seer, since the kernel of pious belief which brought joy to men through the centuries scarcely needs the shell any longer now; indeed, the shell may lead to the danger that the kernel will not be recognised by those who seek
it. – –
Here now is the story of those events:

As soon as he died, the Master’s distinguished friends did all they could to obtain his body through the Roman procurator, since everything they had previously tried to save him from death had been in vain.
The procurator – well-disposed towards the Master’s friends and full of disdain towards the temple’s priests, since they had forced him to condemn a man who never seemed to him to represent a danger to the state – willingly granted them their dead friend, having been unable, with the best will in the world, to save his life for them.
But when the priests of the temple heard of this, knowing full well that the procurator would turn a deaf ear, they harangued the colonel of the city guard. They were able to get him to provide guards to keep watch over the tomb, since they were most afraid that the dead man’s followers would mourn at the tomb, and that their rage would be directed at the priests.
The tomb thus received a Roman guard under orders to prevent any gatherings taking place.

At that time lived the exalted brothers of the Master – those who had once taught him and brought him, as one of them, towards the perfection of his priestly kingship – in hiding nearby in the Judean hills; during his activities the exalted Master had often met with them in seclusion and had frequently visited them in their remote habitations.
They knew what had befallen him and had been unable to save him, for his spiritual guilt: that he wanted – albeit for moments only – to bring external earthly power to his assistance, had wrested his fate from that high spiritual guidance to which they were subject and which also guided him before allowing himself to be deceived for a short time on his entry into Jerusalem by the overwhelming desire of those who saw in him their saviour from external oppression.
The transformation of the laws in the invisible earth which he then accomplished through his act of love on Golgotha would have spared him his final destiny, had another finished the work before him. – –
But since this transformation could only be accomplished through him in his final hour, his exalted brothers, filled with grief and yet jubilant within themselves at the expectation of his victory, had to leave him to walk the way of the cross. – –

Now they had knowledge about his grave and he was near to them alive in his spiritual form.
They did what had to be done, with his complete agreement and according to his will, so that no foolish cult would grow up around his earthly remains.
There was one among them who possessed the art of sending men into a magic sleep simply through an exchange of words.
He went ahead to the guardians at the grave and as he was dressed as an important Roman, the guards respectfully answered his questions until their tongues could only babble, and they sank down finally into a deep sleep full of dreams.
The time was now right to summon the other brothers who were waiting nearby.
With some effort they opened the grave and with great care brought out the body.
They laid him out, wrapped in his funeral shroud, on two long strips of cloth they had brought with them so that he was seated, as it were, on one strip, while his torso was supported by the other.
In the moonlit night they quickly carried their heavy, beloved burden with much effort away into the mountains, to a rocky gorge they had previously chosen: – where a pyre had been prepared the day before; two exalted brothers waited at the place.
These brothers were distinguished men of a foreign tribe – who once had come from far away in the East. According to the custom of their tribe, the beloved body was now cremated at this place where they were sure not to be disturbed. The light of the moon also subdued the glow of the fire. As at the time that desert area was uninhabited far and wide, a fire would not have been noticed, even if the gorge had not offered enough protection from the open countryside around.

When the light of dawn extinguished the blaze, the exalted brothers collected the remains and carried them, wrapped in cloths, on a long journey to the Jordan. There the last remains of the Master’s earthly form were consigned to the depths of the river’s waters, as was custom and tradition among their people.
On returning they stayed for a while in their secluded refuges in the hills. From there they occasionally visited the pupils of the master who, after he had disappeared from the visible world still remained within his spiritual community.
Twelve months later they left Palestine for ever and wandered towards the east: towards their homeland – near the highest mountains in the world…

They were in reality those ‘wise men’ from the east*– priestly kings and kingly priests – who once ‘saw far away in the east’ the ‘star’ of the young carpenter from Galilee. They had come to teach him until the day he could comprehend his mission himself, – even if they did not, as later legend would have it, kneel at the babe’s crib and offer him their
gifts. – –
The legend only gave form in its way to what those few who were closest to the Master once learnt from himself and later entrusted, in most mysterious words, to those seeking guidance from them.
Indeed they gave form to it according to an ancient and distant model, and yet it preserved the characteristics of truth. For even though seven of these exalted brothers saw the public activities of their new brother from close by, there were only three of them who were his actual teachers – and three of the Luminaries are always needed if a new ring is to be forged into the golden chain which from the first days of mankind, must be renewed in every generation. – – –

From: The Wisdom of John pdf pages 56-66