Q. Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The disciples’ desertion of their Master in his last earthly struggle was punished; each one came to a violent death except St. John, of whose death we have no record” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 47). This has always puzzled and troubled me. How can I reconcile that statement with the third tenet of Christian Science (see Science and Health, p. 497), which acknowledges God’s forgiveness of sin? If, after all the disciples accomplished after the crucifixion, they were not forgiven, what hope is there for us?
— A reader in Nottingham, England
A. It’s difficult for us, today, to fully grasp the magnitude of those momentous hours surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion. Nor do we know the depth of what each disciple had to overcome in himself afterward, all of them except John having deserted and forsaken their Master.
But none of that meant they were doomed to be punished. The road to progress and freedom is always open. God forgives sin by destroying it, and God’s great love was certainly at work in each of the disciples, strengthening and purifying them. God’s love and forgiveness were also manifested in Jesus, of whom Mrs. Eddy wrote: “The nature of Jesus made him keenly alive to the injustice, ingratitude, treachery, and brutality that he received. Yet behold his love! So soon as he burst the bonds of the tomb he hastened to console his unfaithful followers and to disarm their fears” (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, pp. 18–19).