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