They were walking away. Done.
The church as they knew it had let them down
and now after the events of the weekend,
they were through.
It was hard to accept, and at first, it had been difficult to imagine, but now that Jesus was dead, they had no choice but to walk away.
With heavy hearts, they trudged on, questioning their memories, checking facts with each other.
“Remember? It was only a week ago today that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. People were waving palm branches…”
“How could I forget? And yet, I was puzzled by Jesus weeping over the city. Was he trying to warn us?”
“Maybe, I thought with all my being that he was the Messiah. I wish I’d paid more attention to his words. Perhaps there were other clues.”
“Clues to what? That he was an imposter? Well, whatever he was, he’s gone now.”
“I had hoped until the very last minute. When the people called for Jesus to save himself, I thought for sure he would, but not even the priests could get him to perform a miracle.”
“And yet he fed thousands and raised the dead, but I’m not sure I trust those priests anymore. It’s not like they treated Jesus with any respect.”
“Yeah, Caiaphas didn’t give him a fair chance—he washed his hands of Jesus like he was something dirty. Even if Jesus wasn’t the one, our religious leaders were unfair. I don’t think I can go back to Jerusalem for Passover next year.”
“I can’t either. If the church can’t stand with someone as loving as Jesus, what kind of church is it? No, I won’t be coming back either.”
“My faith was so strong while I listened to Jesus teaching, I felt alive more than I ever have, but now that he’s gone, I feel numb. After watching the reaction of the people and how they murdered Jesus, it makes my stomach turn.”
“Me too, I’m in a crisis. I feel like I am losing my faith.”
They barely noticed the stranger coming up behind them until he spoke. He too had been in Jerusalem, but his perspective was different. He still believed.
They walked on. Even as the sky grew darker, they walked with the stranger through the shadows—that darkest night of their souls. They mourned the loss of everything they’d once believed. It was painful. They vented. They were sad one minute, angry the next. How could the most beautiful experience of their lives turn into something so bitter?
As they discussed their disillusionment, the stranger passed no judgment but continued beside them through what appeared to be the deconstruction of their spiritual beliefs. He listened, then gently pointed them to the scriptures. Yes, Jesus fit the criteria and it was true the crowd had gotten out of control. Yes, the religious leaders had misused their authority.
This stranger, though not always in agreement with them, seemed to understand the religious leaders were hypocrites. He agreed what happened to Jesus was wrong, and yet he continued to believe. They marveled at his faith and wondered how—after all that happened, he could still insist Jesus was the Messiah.
His empathetic ear, his knowledge of scripture and his optimism ignited their hearts. The conversation was so mesmerizing; they hardly noticed when they came up to their door. The stranger turned to go on his way, but they asked him to stay for supper so they could continue their conversation.
He agreed to stay for a little while. As he raised his hands to bless the food, their eyes and hearts were suddenly opened. Jesus had been walking with them all along—even as they were walking away from their faith, deconstructing their beliefs, mourning the lies they’d believed, questioning the facts they’d once imagined to be true. Jesus had never left them.
Just as the scriptures revealed it was necessary for Jesus to die, their former beliefs and expectations had to die as well. Jesus was not the Messiah they’d been looking for—he was better, a different kind of Messiah. The things they’d missed in his teachings now became clear.
He was there one minute, and then he was gone, but they knew they’d never be the same. This encounter had restored their faith, but their faith was no longer in the religious system, it was grounded in Jesus.
They had no hunger for natural food—this spiritual feast would sustain them. Running as fast as they could, they hurried back over the mountain, dodging the rocks in their path to share their revelations with the friends they’d so mournfully left behind just hours before. The things they’d experienced had been real—this deconstruction of their faith was necessary for them to embrace the good news Jesus offered. Full of joy and excitement, they pounded on the door and windows for someone to let them in.
“We have seen Jesus! He’s alive! He’s not the Messiah we thought he was, but he’s so much more!”