Resurrection & Resistance

On reading the theme for this month’s blog, ‘resurrection moments’, resistance spontaneously rises; a wincing from deep within causes me to internally recoil. As I consider this reaction, I think it flows from a tendency I see in many Christians to view following Christ as a carefree stroll down the yellow brick road, rather than an arduous trek along the via Dolorosa (way of suffering or way of grief). This combines with two other thoughts that simultaneous float into my mind as I read the words ‘resurrection moments’: 1) there is no resurrection without a crucifixion, 2) we as Christians tend to jump to the ultimate, while minimizing or completely disregarding the penultimate. These ingredients mixed together create an inner aversion for me to the words ‘resurrection moments.’

So with all that said, what comes to mind when I think of resurrection moments is the events that preceded the resurrection itself – the penultimate realities that brought about even the possibility of a resurrection. It is these penultimate realties that I see clearly displayed in Jesus that give me hope and bring me freedom and the strength to be weak and turn to God. There are three penultimate realities that come to mind:

  1. Jesus weeps before the grave of Lazarus even though He knows Lazarus will have his own resurrection moment very shortly. Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life weeps.
  2. Jesus anguishes in the garden as his death on the cross looms ever nearer. Here Jesus cries out three times – I don’t want to do this anymore – each time he concludes with, “not my will but your (God’s) will be done.” Nevertheless, Jesus expresses his heart, his hesitation, and his struggle with saying ‘Yes’ to God.
  3. Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!”  Once again, in the moments before his crucifixion, Jesus expresses his heart openly and honestly – sharing his internal, felt experience of God’s absence with God.

These three episodes from Jesus’ life help me to endure and be present to the anguish that can be associated with taking up my cross, denying myself, and following Jesus. These stories of Jesus’ experiences empower me to lean into the Good Friday realities of life, and the uncertainty of the Saturday between Good Friday and the coming resurrection. They give me permission to be open and honest with God, coming before God naked and unedited, sharing with God what I am feeling, just as Jesus did.

Finally, the fact that there is no resurrection without a crucifixion, reminds me that Jesus does not rush me to the resurrection moments, nor use the certainty of the resurrection to assuage the pain of my current struggles – Jesus weeps with me. Jesus weeps with me because Jesus is with me in the tough stuff of my life, and because of that I can hope in the coming resurrection moments even as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, fearing no evil, knowing that Jesus is with me.

Join the Conversation

What thoughts and feelings rise within you as you read the words:

  • There is no resurrection without a crucifixion
  • Jesus wept
  • Resurrection moments

Do you freely express to God your feelings during those difficult pre-resurrection moments in your life? Why/Why not?

Do your desire along with Paul to know both the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of his (Jesus’) suffering? Why/Why not?

Larry Warner:
warnerLarry Warner is founder and president of b, a spiritual formation ministry working with pastors, missionaries, seminarians, and churches; he is a retreat leader and spiritual director; he teaches at a number of seminaries and is a consultant for churches. He is author of Journey with Jesus: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. He has been married for thirty-five years and has four children and three grandchildren.
  • renee

    thanks so much, larry. it’s always encouraging to hear people acknowledge that it is the via dolorosa — thereby freeing us to live genuine authentic lives and honor not only our joy, but our pain as well.

    • http://www.b-ing.org Larry Warner

      Thank you or your comment. It means a lot coming from you. I often asked people who are angry with God but hesitant to share those feelings with God, does God value honesty or dishonesty – I think the answer is obvious and the Christian is a come as you are affair.

  • Christina Paul

    I agree with Renee, thanks for acknowledging the penultimate realities of resurrection moments! Such realities are sobering, but it’s encouraging to be reminded that in these moments, like Christ, we don’t need to hide our weaknesses from God. We have the freedom to be human.

    • http://www.b-ing.org Larry Warner

      exactly Christina! freedom to be where we are, to feel what we feel and to share all that with a God who knows us, journeys with us and has experienced personally the anguish and pain of living in a broken world or broken people.

  • http://www.b-ing.org Larry Warner

    oops with broken people.

  • Nancy Peckham

    Jesus’s anguish in both Gethsemane and on the Cross when feeling forsaken by God have come to mean so much to me. I’m not always certain why, but I think it’s because He overCAME His natural, human desires, and went THROUGH the suffering rather than escaping it. This gives me courage to do the same. I am filled with awe and gratitude when I picture His anguish. I love your use of the word penultimate as well, as a reminder that there is more to come than our present sufferings and anguish!

    • http://www.b-ing.org Larry Warner

      @ Nancy thank you for your kind words and I too am feeler with awe and gratitude as I look at Jesus’ ability to be honest and yet also choose God’s will.