Holy Week Afterword
By Dr. Paul Wolfe
As I reflect on and reread the accounts of the resurrection, I cannot but help notice the differing responses to it. I mean the immediate responses. There was fear, astonishment, puzzlement, haste to see for one’s self, joy, worship, confession, remembrance of his words, quick reporting, blindness to the reality, desire to cover up, doubt, outright unbelief, and true belief. This wide range of responses mirrors responses since that day. Surely, yours and mine fall somewhere within that spectrum, perhaps in more than one way.
On this last response though, while there was true belief among some, that belief was absent of understanding. John later reflected that their understanding did not come until they had a fuller understanding of the Scriptures and how its narrative cohered around these new realities. What transpired soon, between the resurrection and the events which follow in the story of the apostles, was a crash course in how to understand the Scriptures. Jesus himself began to teach them these things, as we see at the end of both Luke’s and John’s Gospels. This new understanding came to a climax on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit came in a new and powerful way, and gave them greater understanding. Central to that new understanding is that God’s purposes do lead to the glory of his handiwork as intended, but that glory is through suffering or humility. Christian faith is both a theology of suffering and of glory.
Once they did come to a measure of understanding, they spent the rest of their lives proclaiming this new reality and its significance. In fact, every one of the speeches or sermons within Acts has 2 or 3 frequent common elements. One of those is an emphasis on the resurrection. It became a, if not the, central tenet in the story of many witnesses. Take note of the following passages and this common feature within them: Acts 2:22ff.; 3:13ff., 26; 4:8ff., 33; 5:29-32; 10:34-43; 13:28-41; 17:18-31; 24:20-21; 25:18-19; 26:8, 23.
All of this testimony brings me back to a few ideas I encounter with each new reflection on the events of Holy Week. First, these things are something of a mystery. This should not be off-putting. The fact is our ignorance of most things, especially of God and his ways, will always, at least in this life, far exceed our knowledge or understanding. But, thanks be unto God, he has revealed enough for us to know and respond appropriately. Second, there is no doubt that all of this is something of a scandal. How can we embrace the scandalous? I think there are several layers of how this is best answered, depending upon one’s perspectives, biases, wounds, etc. However, every proper answer begins with simple trust, that child-like faith and pursuit which Jesus himself called for, which is always followed by a desire to seek to know, and yes, to understand as best we can. Lastly, I come back not to our responses, but Jesus’ response when he met with his closest followers, once without Thomas the doubter, and once with him. In both cases, his pronouncement was “Peace be unto you.” May we also know his peace – in spite of our own inner turmoil, in spite of an absence of true shalom, in spite of often being mastered by an unhealthy doubt and skepticism, and ultimately peace to embrace more fully the Truth, which Jesus said, will make us free.
All of this is why The Cambridge School of Dallas is, and, by God’s good graces, will remain a confessional school.
May the peace of Christ be with you.