With a posthumous clue from Alfred Hitchcock, I have solved the mystery of the missing body of Christ. In a 1958 episode of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” ominously entitled “Lamb to the Slaughter,” the jealous wife of a local police chief bludgeons him to death with a frozen leg of lamb. She then cooks the lamb and serves it to the homicide detectives, who can’t seem to locate the heavy, blunt murder weapon. Watching the episode recently, I had an “ah-ha!” moment: The disciples of Christ had the motive, the means, and the opportunity to dispose of his body: by eating it!
You may find this theory a bit tough to swallow, but the forensic evidence from Holy Scripture itself is damning. For starters, look at what Jesus himself said is necessary for eternal life:
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."
Apparently it takes a long time to say “bite me” in Aramaic, but the message from Jesus is absolutely clear and unequivocal. At least 6 times in this passage he says that the only way to live forever is to “eat his flesh” and “drink his blood.” The Jews who were listening understood this to be a literal requirement. Picture how this must have struck the disciples. They were a roving band of semi-literate, unemployed, homeless men, hungering for a better life beyond this one. This Jesus, whom they followed and trusted, told them exactly what they had to do to achieve their life-after-life goal. And it would make perfect sense for them to take The Word at his word and do what he asked. Jesus would be their entrée, if you will, to eternity.
But the disciples faced two super-sized problems that must have given them pause. First, there’s the general human abhorrence to eating other people, especially close personal acquaintances and individuals who can turn water into wine. However, most would agree that there is also a general human abhorrence to flying airplanes into occupied buildings, so fantasies of heaven obviously trump even our most basic inhibitions. Compared to terrorist martyrdom, however, what Jesus was asking was a piece of cake: just sup on the Savior, and you’re in.
Thus, the apostles clearly had the motive to devour the divine one, and could easily have overcome their initial distaste of the idea. Their next problem was finding the right opportunity to munch on the Messiah. Marv Albert notwithstanding, social mores typically discourage people from running up and biting other living creatures without provocation. But providence must have been smiling on the apostles because the opportunity for their grisly “first communion” was handed to them on a silver platter.
Right before their eyes, the flesh of Jesus was prepped for their dining pleasure. The “tenderizing” process of poking, piercing, and pounding of Jesus’ flesh prior to his crucifixion rivaled what any good chef would do to soften up a tough slab of rump roast. Then, as a subtle sort of marination, a by-stander had the good sense to dab the dying Christ with wine vinegar, creating a kind of savior vinaigrette. Next, Jesus was baked on a stick for 3 hours in the sizzling mid-east sun, basting in his own juices. Finally, with his last words, Jesus himself announced his table-readiness. His “It is finished” is alternatively translated “I am so cooked” in some early texts, indicating to the disciples that he was a well done, good and faithful servant. As a further test, the piercing of his side by a Roman soldier produced only clear body fluids, a sure sign there was not much Jesus “au jus” left to savor.
What happened next, of course, is left to our imaginations. In a sort of Last Supper redux, the apostles likely smuggled the “corpus Christi” back to the upper room and began the heavenly feast. The apostle Thomas probably couldn’t believe his eyes: those who had just argued about seating at the right hand of God were now eating at the right hand of God (i.e. finger sandwiches). And there was Peter, Peter, Prophet-eater chomping away on the loin of Judah, and John remarking, “This tastes just like chicken ala King of Kings.” The others agree that the dining is simply divine, as they wolf down the soft buns hot off the cross. It’s not inconceivable that even Jesus’ mother Mary had a little Lamb of God. And when they were done nibbling on the Nazarene, all that remained was the stained tablecloth, a sacred relic on display today at a church in Turin. Of course, this crucifixion cuisine pre-dated the invention of dental hygiene, leaving the apostles to walk around with bits of their lord and savior lodged between their teeth. Brings back memories of my Catholic days when I took communion, and had the creator of the universe hopelessly stuck on the roof of my mouth. So much for oral tradition.
But there are yet other biblical forensic clues that this really happened. Ever wonder why it was only women that went to look for Jesus’ body after his death? The faith “full” apostles, already knew what had happened, so they stayed back at the ranch, with that cat-that-just-ate-the-messiah look on their faces. Of course, Jesus himself had given his followers a foretaste of things to come when he prophesied his own demise. He said that, like Jonah, who was in the belly of a whale for three days, he was going to be in “Sheol” for three days. “Sheol” is literally translated “pit,” as in the pit of one’s stomach. So, like Jonah, Jesus would be in a belly (or bellies), and the apostles would experience a 3-day bout of sanctification constipation.
Which brings us to the so-called ascension into Heaven. It’s a known fact that the God of the Old Testament relished the pungent smell of burning flesh. He called the smoke from burnt offerings a “sweet aroma,” and demanded that millions of innocent animals be torched to fill his omnipresent snout. Just imagine his olfactory delight when the digested body of his only begotten son produced a sudden outburst of apostolic flatulence. And that odor, of course, would have ascended directly to Heaven in a “cloud.”
Finally, there is present-day forensic evidence that cannot be ignored. It’s no coincidence that our modern English words “Incarnation” and “carnivorous” come from the same Latin root. Also, only one letter separates the word “devout” from “devour,” and “savior” from “savor.” Note too, if you will, the similarities between “messiah” and “mess hall.” And where do you think we got the expression “morsel of Truth?” Need I go on? What about the whole concept of “holy communion” today? Since there wasn’t enough of the actual flesh of Christ to go around, Catholics invented “transubstantiation,” a sort of biological alchemy in which blood and bone morph into a thin tasteless wafer (that adheres quite well to the roof of one’s mouth). As this wafer approaches the faithful, they are prompted to utter “Body of Christ” and warned not to chew it, lest the compressed deity squeal in pain. They are re-enacting the apostles’ destruction of evidence!
So I believe the case can be made beyond any reasonable doubt that the apostles were guilty of finishing off the infinite one. And it’s likely that at some point over the millennia, references to “regurgitation” were mistranslated “resurrection” and a whole new religion arose. To the apostles’ credit, however, it must be said that their devotion to Christ was all-consuming.