Christ is Risen

Christ is Risen March 31, 2024

After a day of horror and another of numbing shock, each of Jesus’ disciples was suffering in their own way. Mary lingered at the tomb, lost in grief, Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus were bewildered, and Thomas withdrew into hard cynicism. There’s no right or wrong here. We’re all different, and our reactions to tragedy are largely shaped by childhood experiences. I love that Mary kept her eyes on Jesus, and that at a word, she was ready to embrace the truth of his resurrection, but not more than I empathise with Thomas’s defensiveness.


In his compassion, Jesus met each of his disciples in the way they needed most. He did not criticise them for their emotions, nor rank them according to their faithfulness. When Cleopas needed new insight, Jesus took him, step by step, through the scriptures. When Thomas asked for proof, Jesus offered it to him without rebuke. Perhaps the most emotionally charged reunion was when Jesus appeared to Peter, but the way I see it, Jesus’ questioning of Peter was both a reinstatement and a commissioning. It was an act of mercy, restoring Peter after his triple denial of Christ.


It is not our response that matters; it is Jesus’ compassion. I have friends who are like Mary – ready to believe, their hearts open wide – and other who are more like Thomas. If we broaden that to our relationship with faith in general, we each have to go where we have to go. Christ accepts us as we are, where we are. Those going through a process of deconstruction need to be doing exactly that, asking the questions they need to ask. Sometimes, in that process, things can get pretty dark, but it remains a necessity for folk who have suffered under the heavy hand of religion. People ought to be encouraged to be authentic, and to go where they need to go.


Personally, I went through a long process of deconstruction, starting in my late twenties and running on for years. The faith of my childhood was no longer sufficient, and cognitive dissonance had set in like a disease. If I hadn’t asked the questions I asked, right down to whether or not I believed in God anymore, my faith would have fallen apart. After asking those questions and being open to any answers, I was delighted to discover that there were true, lasting foundations that not only survived the process of deconstruction but became all the stronger for it. My grasp of God’s compassion became all the richer, my love for Jesus deepened, my gratitude for the cross redoubled, and my love of scripture intensified (despite the fact, and to some degree because, I no longer saw it as inerrant). My understanding of the Gospel became infinitely richer, and my newfound respect for other faiths and those who follow them opened up a whole world of delights. Today, I walk intimately with Jesus, and love him more than ever before.


In every phase of that journey, Jesus accepted and loved me as I was, from the darkest periods of confusion to the brightest, most secure years of clarity. It is not our reaction that matters; it is Jesus’ compassion. It was not the disciples’ faith that raised Jesus from the dead; it was the faith of Jesus himself. Whether we’re like Mary, Cleopas, Thomas, or Peter, we are all eternally held by the same spiritual reality – Christ is risen.





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