by Larry Fyffe
In stories of romance, the heroes thereof often get into trouble big time: they usually manage to get away at the last second. In the New Testament, though details are lacking, it appears that Jesus of Nazareth manages to slip away from his would-be executioners after a Libyan takes His place:
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene Simon by name Him they compelled to bear the cross .... And set up over his head his accusation written 'This is Jesus, the King of the Jews' There were there two thieves crucified with him One on the right hand, and another on the left (Matthew 27: 32,37,38)
The later written Gospel of St. John omits the switcheroo story – adding to the mystery.
Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan oft places the dramatic narrow-escape motif in his song lyrics. Writes he of a member of Captain Ahab’s crew:
Tashtego says that he died and was reborn. His extra days are a gift. He wasn’t
saved by Christ, though, he says he was saved by a fellow man, and a nonChristian
at that. He parodies the Resurrection….
That theme and all that it implies would work its way into more than a few of my songs.
(Bob Dylan: The Nobel Lecture)
In the song below, the narrator has a narrow escape from death with aid from the God of Thunder:
"Oh, stop that cursed jury" Cried the attendant and the nurse "The trial was bad enough But this is ten times worse" Just then a bolt of lightning Struct the courthouse out of shape And while everybody knelt to pray The dwifter did escape (Bob Dylan: Drifter's Escape)
Also expressed in song is the viewpoint that, in a disinterested Universe, it be just a matter of good luck if one escapes from dire peril:
The ship was going under The universe opened wide The roll was called up yonder The angels turned aside (Bob Dylan: Tempest)
It’s not all about blind luck – human beings are social animals who get assistance and knowledge from others as well as learning how to cope with the surrounding physical and social environments from their own individual experiences – most manage to live ordinary, peaceful, and productive lives. However, the effects of authoritarian hierarchical social structures ensure that there are those who do not.
So expressed in the following song:
He was a clean cut kid But they made a killer out of him That's what they did They said, "Listen, boy, you're just a pup" They sent him to a napalm health spa to shape up (Bob Dylan: Clean Cut Kid)
The lyrics of many of the songs of Bob Dylan present a somewhat Existentialist position – in the final analysis, the choice of what individuals decide to do rests squarely on their own shoulders, and they’re going to have to live with it, and suffer any negative consequenes wrought therefrom; or else change their way of thinking and behaving:
Jesus said, "Be ready For you know not the hour in which I come" He said, "He who is not for Me is against Me" Just so you know where He's coming from (Bob Dylan: Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking)
It comes to be believed by many that Jesus of Nazareth is put to death and then reborn. Indeed, it might be construed that He allows Simon of Cyrene to sacrifice himself in His stead so that Jesus is able to live on for a time, and therefore continue to inspire His apostles to spread the gospel abroad:
This is my commandment That ye love one another, as I have loved you Greater love hath no man than this That a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15: 12,13)
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