The Common Good

N.T. Wright and Bart Ehrman: New Stories and Resurrection (Part 2 of 2 by Melvin Bray)

[Continued from part 1]

I pondered what I might offer to spotlight the significance of such a dialogue and the future it foretells. Then I ran across this exegesis of Luke's account of the evening of Jesus' resurrection. It's by Debbie Blue.

With the wryest of humor, Blue contextualizes the two men walking the road to Emmaus, which may be tantamount to saying they were heading nowhere fast, considering scholars haven't been able to confirm the existence of an actual town named Emmaus. (What an amazing metaphor for our despair in the face of suffering, and the difficulty of being reconciled to each other and God afterwards.) The two men meet a stranger along the way who asks them why they are aggrieved. Their response is to almost reprimand the stranger's cluelessness: "Do you not know what happened this weekend. We lost hope." To which the stranger replies with reciprocal exasperation, "Did you not know that the whole story has been driving toward this irredeemable act of shared suffering-the death of God-so that the unprecedented hope of resurrection might come?"

Blue says it this way:

Jesus is like, 'Fools and slow of hear to believe. Can't you see that this all had to happen: that the mechanisms of the social order that lead to violence had to be undone, the self-deceptive and ferocious need to make ourselves out as innocent, the rat race, the ladder climbing, the fear of a violent God who demands blood and vengeance? Can't you see that all that had to be undone? You're free! Quit holding onto the bars and rattling them. The cage doors are open; walk out.' Jesus comes back from a wholly different place than they've ever been, and he walks right up to them and he reveals a whole new story. [Yet they don't recognize it.]

He walks with them, and they stop just shy of nowhere. And Jesus doesn't lecture them, judge them, condemn them, dislike them. He doesn't express a sense of betrayal and disappointment. He doesn't talk about how hopeless and ugly the whole lot of humanity is. He breaks bread. And he feeds them. And he tells them to go out and preach mercy to the world.

He becomes present to these people, people totally caught up, as we all are, in the reigning social, political and economic structures, in order to help them see or live or feel an alternative-to help them die and live again. He becomes present so that little by little they will be enabled to walk out of the cages

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