Exercise 29

EXERCISE 29: Breakthrough – Resurrection

In the Christian tradition, there are typically three ways people approach this unusual event called the “Resurrection.” The more traditional ways are to point to the empty tomb and to Jesus’ appearances after his death. This raises all the questions about the nature of “resurrection” and the nature of life after death.

There is a third tradition which, while not denying the first two, focusses not on Jesus but on the disciples: something quite remarkable happened to them. They were conspicuously absent at Jesus’ execution. By some accounts, they were holed up in some safe location out of fear for the Romans. They were a defeated, disheartened, dispirited group of followers who had quite given up on the enterprise that Jesus had initiated.

Yet within a few years, these same frightened disciples were going abroad, preaching Jesus’ message, creating communities, taking on the religious authorities, and getting themselves killed. What happened? What turned them around? What had they experienced that gave them the strength, the conviction and the courage? What had they suddenly understood? It was as if Jesus continued to be in their midst. As if Jesus were somehow still alive. Not in the way we keep the memory of someone we loved who had died. Alive in how they lived with each other. Alive in how they lived out his memory. Alive in the very strength and conviction they lived out of. What kind of presence is this? And what does it presuppose on the part of Jesus himself?

Once you have quieted yourself, read the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaeus in Luke 24: 13-35. Walk with the disciples. Experience their loss. Notice the stranger who comes alongside… What do you think they really recognize? This is presented as an appearance story. One can read it straightforwardly that way. Or one can see it as a metaphor of the breakthrough experience that sometimes occurs when we believe we have come to the end of the road without any way out. And suddenly we find a breakthrough…

Can you recall a time when you thought you were at the end of your options and that things looked really bleak, when suddenly, somehow, an unexpected way out presented itself? Or a time when you were feeling anxious, depressed, desperate, and without hope and suddenly, without knowing how or why, you suddenly felt relieved, hopeful, at peace?

Journal your feelings and thoughts.