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Why Jesus Is Important

Jesus, Christians, and Near-Death Experiences
By David Sunfellow

When we examine near-death experiences as a whole; when we consider the experiences that people from all of the world, including non-Christians, are reporting, the best estimates we currently have indicate that Jesus only shows up in 6.5 percent of these experiences. What makes it look like Jesus is more dominant is that some of the most famous and influential NDEs that have been reported come wrapped in Christian packages. This includes the NDEs of such people as Dr. George Ritchie (who was the inspiration behind Dr. Raymond Moody’s groundbreaking book, Life After Life), Howard Storm, Betty J. Eadie, Angie Fenimore, Don Piper, Ian McCormack, Mickey Robinson, Colton Burpo, Dr. Mary Neal, Chris Markey, Yvonne Sneeden, Annabel Beam, Jeff Olsen, Chris Russell, Emanuel Swedenborg, and many more.

Western civilization, especially America, is also dominated by Christians and Christian traditions. That means that the western media and, by extension, much of the global communications network, is heavily influenced by Christian sensibilities. And this, in turn, produces more reporting of NDEs with overtly Christian themes which generate higher ratings, produce more best sellers, and make more money than less Christian, less dramatic NDEs.

But there is another inescapable truth to consider.

If you wash away the dirt that has been piled on Jesus for the last two thousand years and go back to the earliest records, which pre-date both Christianity and the New Testament, you discover someone that is astonishingly aligned with the core truths presented in NDEs around the world. Simply put: the original Jesus is one of the biggest, boldest, most courageous champions of near-death experiences and their core message of love that ever existed. There is, in fact, no other historical figure that I am aware of who embodies the core truths presented by NDEs more fully than Jesus.

15 Ways The Historical Jesus & Near-Death Experiences Are Similar

1. Jesus experienced God as a personal, loving, divine presence (Jesus reportedly referred to God as Abba, which is Aramaic for “papa”). God, in other words, wasn’t just an abstract, impersonal energy field of love. It was sentient. It had personality. It was expressive. It knew every hair on our heads and expressed Its love in tangible, concrete ways.

2. Jesus insisted that God loves EVERYONE. This is one of the things that may have gotten Jesus killed: he refused to obey the cultural, religious, and political “purity systems” of his day.

In the time of Jesus, it was believed that you had to be pure to stay in God’s good graces. The Jewish purity system of first century Palestine was built around a system that elevated the most pure and reviled the most impure. One’s purity depended on one’s birth and lineage. Priests and Levites came first, and were followed by Israelites and then converts to the Jewish faith. Further down the road were bastards. Purity also depended on behavior. Those who carefully obeyed purity codes were regarded as more pure than those who ignored them. People who ignored or downplayed these codes were regarded as outcasts, which typically included tax collectors and shepherds. Physical wholeness was also a purity issue. People who were not whole -- who were maimed, chronically ill, lepers, eunuchs, and so on, were considered impure. People who were abjectly poor were also considered impure. Males, who did not menstruate or give birth like females, were considered more pure than women. Finally, Jews were considered more pure than Gentiles.

Jesus scholar Marcus Borg sums it up by saying:

“The effect of the purity system was to create a world with sharp social boundaries: between pure and impure, righteous and sinner, whole and not whole, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile.”

Borg continues:

“One of his [Jesus’] most characteristic activities was an open and inclusive table. ‘Table fellowship’ -- sharing a meal with somebody -- had a significance in Jesus’ social world that is difficult for us to imagine. It was not a casual act, as it can be in the modern world. In a general way, sharing a meal represented mutual acceptance. More specifically, rules surrounding meals were deeply embedded in the purity system. Those rules governed not only what might be eaten and how it should be prepared, but also with whom one might eat. Refusing to share a meal was a form of social ostracism. Pharisees (and others) would not eat with somebody who was impure, and no decent person would share a meal with an outcast. The meal was a microcosm of the social system, table fellowship an embodiment of social vision…

“The inclusive vision incarnated in Jesus’s table fellowship is reflected in the shape of the Jesus movement itself. It was an inclusive movement, negating the boundaries of the purity system. It included women, untouchables, the poor, the maimed, and the marginalized, as well as some people of stature who found his vision attractive. It is difficult for us who live in a world in which we take for granted an attitude (at least as an ideal) of nondiscrimination to appreciate the radical character of this inclusiveness. It is only what we would expect from a reasonably decent person. But in a society ordered by a purity system, the inclusiveness of Jesus’ movement embodied a radically alternative vision…

“In short, there is something boundary shattering about… the center of Jesus’ message and activity: ‘Be compassionate as God is compassionate.’ Whereas purity divides and excludes, compassion unites and includes. For Jesus, compassion had a radical sociopolitical meaning. In his teaching and table fellowship, and in the shape of his movement, the purity system was subverted and an alternative social vision affirmed. The politics of purity was replaced by a politics of compassion.”

Bottom line: Jesus not only challenged the religious, social, and political order of his day, but he was viewed as a dangerous virus that was infecting others with similar ideas and practices.

To learn more this very important topic, read Chapter 3: Jesus Compassion, and Politics, in Marcus Borg’s book Meeting Jesus AGAIN for the First Time.

3. Jesus indicated that God loves everyone wholeheartedly and unconditionally. There is nothing we can do that can cause God to stop loving us.

4. Jesus saw the imperfections of those he encountered and encouraged people to correct them. The kind of love we see with Jesus, in other words, is the same kind of love we see reflected in near-death experiences. On the one hand, there is unconditional love and acceptance while, on the other, we are all held accountable for our shortcomings and encouraged to do better.

5. While Jesus saw where people fell short and encouraged them to do better, he insisted that we not judge and condemn anyone. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.

6. Jesus indicated that God not only believes everyone is worth saving, but is actively pursuing those who have strayed.  The life and parables of Jesus are full of examples of this.

7. The stories we have of Jesus are full of God, and his messengers, intervening in the lives of people. The God that Jesus knew, in other words, did not sit on a cloud somewhere and watch everything from a distance. He, and His messengers, often showed up in dreams, visions, and dramatic real world encounters.

8. Success, according to Jesus, is not measured by material possessions or worldly accomplishments. Instead, success is measured by how lovingly we treat one another.

9. Jesus insisted that The Kingdom of God is what’s real while the world is a passing phenomenon.

10. Jesus insisted that The Kingdom of God is here now. It is present everywhere if we have eyes to see.

11. According to Jesus, we are all connected to one another. Everything we do to one another, we do to ourselves -- and him.

12. Jesus was a healer (which suggests he was plugged into the same Source that has miraculously healed so many near-death experiencers).

13. Jesus was an exorcist (which suggests he was not only aware of the unseen world that surrounds us, but also aware of and in command of the hellish beings and realms that near-death experiences insist exist).

14. Jesus may have had the ability to control nature and other aspects of the dream world.

15. An encounter with Jesus changed lives, often in very dramatic ways. Relationships ended, careers came to an end, old ways of thinking about things gave rise to new ways, people became less interested in material things and more interested in spiritual things. Near-death experiencers often report that their lives are completely changed after their experience.


Did Jesus Really Exist?

"Virtually all New Testament scholars and Near East historians, applying the standard criteria of historical-critical investigation, find that the historicity of Jesus is effectively certain, although they differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the details of his life that have been described in the gospels.”

-- Wikipedia

Here are the three sources of historical evidence that I find the most compelling:

1. The Shroud of Turin

2. The Apostle Paul

3. The Sayings Gospel Q (pdf)


The Chosen

Wow! What A Series!

Many movies have been made about Jesus. Have any of them really done him justice? Here's one that comes close. Except for the cartoonish Roman soldiers, the acting, directing, dialogue, stories, characters, and cinematography are all outstanding. Even more impressive is the gentle, deeply stirring way that Jesus and his central message of love is presented through the lives of those he touched. The core themes that we find presented so clearly in near-death experiences -- God loves everyone wholeheartedly and unconditionally, everyone is special, important, and cherished, the little things in life are the big things, God intervenes in miraculous ways when needed -- are brought to life in this contemporary, must watch, deeply inspired and inspiring series.

The Chosen is the first multi-season television series about the life of Christ, as witnessed through the eyes of those He impacted. Directed by Dallas Jenkins and distributed by VidAngel Studios, The Chosen has grown to become the largest crowdfunded TV series of all time. Currently available for everyone to watch for free!

Watch The Chosen on your iPad, iPhone, or Android mobile device
Watch The Chosen online
Order The Chosen DVD
Visit the movie's website
Visit The Chosen on YouTube
Visit The Chosen on Facebook


"Love The Person You're With"

Love The Person You’re With
By Near-Death Experiencer Howard Storm

When Jesus told me I had to come back to the world and I was trying to convince him not to send me back, I asked him what would I do if I came back. Before he had a chance to answer, I said, "you know I am an artist and I would like to build you a shrine. I would make this shrine so big and beautiful and bizarre that people would come from all over the world out of curiosity to see what it was about. What they would find was it would be about you. That would make them think about you. That's what I would like to do if I came back."

He said, "I would rather you didn't do that."

"WHAT?!! People have been building shrines to you forever. There are lots of shrines. Why can't I build a shrine? I would like to build a shrine."

"You spent so much of your life hiding out in the studio, avoiding people, I would prefer it if you didn't avoid people by building this big shrine… I don't really care about shrines. People like to build shrines. I understand that. It makes them feel good. It does absolutely nothing for me or for God. We don't have any use for them whatsoever. If that's what amuses you, I guess that's what you gotta do. But don't do it for me. Don't deceive yourself into thinking it's something I want or need, because I don't."

"OK, you shot down my idea. What's your idea?"

"Love the person you're with."

"OK, great, I'll do that. No problem. What do you want me to do?"

"I just told you what I want you to do: love the person you're with."

"Yeah, but after I do that, what do you really want me to do?"

"No, that is what I want you to do: love the person you're with."

I said, "Well that's simple enough, that's easy, I can do that."

"Oh really. Well, that's what I want you to do. That's enough."

And I said, "How is it enough?"

"If you do that, you will change the world."

"Oh, you want me to change the world?!"

"Exactly, that's why I put you in the world in the first place: to change the world."

"Well you know there have been a lot of people who have tried to change the world and that usually turns out pretty badly. I can think of examples like Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung. All of them wanted to change the world and they made it worse. If I go back and try and change the world, why isn't it possible that I could make a lot of terrible mistakes and make the world a worse place?"

"The way I want you to change the world is by loving the person you are with."

"Wait a minute, that's a contradiction. You want me to change the world but you just want me to love the person I'm with?"

"Yes, that's the plan; that's The Big Plan… If you love the person you're with, then that person will go out and love the person they're with, and they will go out and love the person they're with and it will be like a chain reaction and love will conquer the world and everyone will love one another. That's God's Big Plan."

"It's not going to work."

"Why won't it work?"

"I love the person I'm with. She walks across the street and gets run over by a truck. Everyone gets angry and upset."

"Yeah, that happens. But it's really God's plan and nothing is going to stop it. It's going to happen."

"Even if you had a million people, I don't think it's going to happen."

"There are more than a million people in the plan…"

"Well, from what I know of the world, you don't have enough."

"Actually, we have all the angels in the plan. There are a lot of them. There are more angels than people in the world… There are millions of people. There are all the angels. And there's God. It's inevitable. The plan is going to happen."

"If that's your plan, I'll do it, but I just don't really see much hope for it."

"You don't know enough to see how it's going to happen."

So, my solution to everything is to love one another. And when I read the Bible and found out that that was written in the Bible as Jesus' commandment: "This is my commandment, that you love one another…" That's the program. I have tried to be part of that program… So, I personally have no big plan other than to be loving.

The only fly in the ointment was that I thought it was going to be easy, and it turns out to be the hardest thing I've ever done. It sounds so simple, but it's really difficult. It's easy for me to love my mother because she was a really nice woman; a very loving woman. It's not hard to love someone who is really good and really loving. But what do you do with someone who is difficult, or really nasty? Those are hard people to love.

And what does it mean to love someone? Sometimes to love someone means you need to incarcerate them. And that's not a lot of fun. Sometimes loving someone means you have to put as much distance between them and you as possible and tell them to never call you. And that's not a lot of fun.

Loving people sounds so simple, but it's very difficult…


Jesus, The Man

The following description of Jesus is based on information from the psychic readings of Edgar Cayce, Ray Stanford, Paul Solomon, and Emmanuel.

Jesus, The Man
By David Sunfellow


He was loving. He was kind. He was gentle. He was mindful of loved ones and friends.

He wined and dined with the wealthy. He consorted with the poor and the down-trodden. He slept in the fields with the shepherds. He taught on the hillsides and in the temples. He walked by the seashore with the throngs. He went wherever he was invited and reached, touched, and healed others in their own plane of experience. He grew faint and weak. His heart ached. His body bled. He experienced all the weaknesses of the flesh. He commanded the wind, the storm, the elements, the thunder and lightning. He was the first soul to experience, and master EVERYTHING, in Heaven and in hell, in body, in mind, in spirit.

Perhaps the most obvious and significant difference between the human life and the life of the Master was that Jesus was never blind, nor deaf, to the simplest opportunities along the way -- and He never lost sight of His purpose: To make God fully manifest in man.

Whereas other prophets spoke through words, through prophecies, through admonitions, through knowledge, through great deeds, Jesus spoke through the human experience. He knew it was not in the thunder or lightning, not in the loudness of words or the magnitude of deeds, but in the little things -- the kind word, the gentle touch -- that brought God into the hearts and minds of men and women. Instead of seeking to illustrate metaphysical truths, or demonstrate healing ability, or explain the laws of God and life, or gain followers, Jesus was motivated first and foremost, by compassion. Above all, Jesus taught, and demonstrated, love.

To read the complete description, go here. A printable pdf version is located here.


The Blind Man At The Gate

The Blind Man At The Gate
From the psychic readings of Ray Stanford

Long ago, I remember a blind beggar sat each day beside the gate on the east side of the wall of the city of Jerusalem. For years he made that place his daily residence.

So clever were his ears that he had learned the sounds of those who walked along the way. He could detect the man of wealth by his step, by the sound of his voice, even by the sound made by the texture of his clothes and shoes. By cleverness of the ear he could discern the Roman from the Jew; in fact, he could identify, with little difficulty, a man of almost any nation.

By sound alone did he discern what he considered to be the worth of men. Those who dragged their feet or who let their sandals flap too much as they walked; those whose clothes were of insufficient crispness or weight (indicative of lack of wealth), he ignored, and did not even bother to raise his cup and ask for alms.

One day footsteps were heard along the hillside and upward to the gate -- familiar footsteps, but of little importance to the beggar. By the sound of their feet and the timbre of their voices he recognized the walk of two fishermen from Galilee.

Beside the fishermen as they passed by was the voice of a man he recognized as being from Nazareth. If I might know the beggar’s thoughts at the time, they were, “Ah, a man from Nazareth. Perhaps he has a family of the class of workers or carpenters, perhaps a maker of roofs. These fisherman, this laborer, would have no coins for me. Better to save my voice than to waste on them a forlorn hope of alms.” These were the words within his mind and heart.

The fishermen were Simon and Andrew. The Nazarene was a man called Jesus.

The beggar remained blind throughout his years; the slyness of his ear had stolen away the very opportunity that his eyes might see. Had his heart been prepared in love, he should at least have spoken. Or had he even asked, unknowing, sight might have been received. Yet, so it is that often men allow the greatest opportunity to walk by them. In blindness they hear its footsteps, but they judge its cadence by the ear of wisdom and fascination in things of the world.

Who was the blind man at the gate? I am. It has taken me nigh two millennia to begin to hear anew. And still, my eyes do not see…

Other Outstanding Jesus Links & Resources

Encounters with Jesus Website
• Jesus, Near-Death Experiences, and Religion
Outstanding Jesus Movies & Songs
Gallery of Favorite Jesus Images
NHNE Jesus on Facebook

Artists Featured In This Issue

• Yongsung Kim - The Hand Of God
• Yongsung Kim - The Light Of His Love
• Brian Jekel - Healing Of The Blind Man 
• David LaChapelle - Jesus Is My Homeboy, Last Supper
• Yongsung Kim - Autum Breeze

NHNE HIGHLY Recommended Books & Movies

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