The evening following Jesus’ crucifixion must have been very difficult for his disciples. Everything seemed lost. Their Master’s promises of eternal life and the nearness of the kingdom of God, and the infinite possibilities they had glimpsed, now lay with Jesus’ inert body behind a huge, seemingly immovable stone. The night before, after they had all sworn not to leave him, they had all abandoned Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, as he faced the unimaginable. Peter denied any connection with Jesus—not just once, but three times—following Jesus’ arrest.
But maybe more than the burning wound of guilt, perhaps it was doubt they felt above all. Why, after having performed amazing works—healing the sick, raising the dead, and so many other wonders—had Jesus suffered such a painful death? If his coming had not been the fulfillment of prophecy, he would not have been able to teach them their true origin, the true origin of every person as created by God, and show them how to perform the same works that he had done. Yet all this was now in the past.
Mary Baker Eddy writes, “The truth had been lived among men; but until they saw that it enabled their Master to triumph over the grave, his own disciples could not admit such an event to be possible” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 24). Even after Jesus’ resurrection and appearance to his disciples on two occasions, at some point some of the disciples returned to their former occupation as fishermen. Not knowing what else to do, they went back out on the sea of Galilee. But even though they fished through the night, they didn’t get the satisfaction of a catch.
The Christ is always present, always ready to roll away the stone of materiality.
However, in the dawn of a bright morning, all their sorrows were transformed into overwhelming joy. A man on the shore called to them to throw their net “on the right side of the ship” (John 21:6). They did, catching a net full of fish, and they quickly realized the man was their loved Teacher, humanity’s Way-shower.
Spiritually strengthened by this third appearance of their Master following his resurrection, the disciples went on to continue the work he had entrusted to them, preaching and healing in many places, even in far-off locations. Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, explains in Science and Health: “Through all the disciples experienced, they became more spiritual and understood better what the Master had taught. His resurrection was also their resurrection” (p. 34).
And it is our resurrection. Our resurrection from a state of defeat and sorrow that all of us, like the disciples, have felt at one time or another. Our resurrection from moments in which we may feel engulfed in impenetrable darkness from which it seems impossible to escape. A frightening medical diagnosis, guilt over a past transgression, a frustrating human relationship, sorrow over the death of a loved one, or uncertainty about the future, can seem like an immovable stone, robbing us of the joy and the freedom that Jesus taught we are entitled to as God’s children. But the eternal, incorporeal Christ, Truth, the healing message from God to His beloved children, transforms the darkness into light when we are receptive to it. This is what happened to a person I know.
At one time, after the death of a loved one, this woman was deeply depressed for several months; she barely ate, and all she wanted to do was sleep. During the short periods when she was awake, she only had the strength to cry. Every morning, she said the first thing she thought was, “One more day I have to face.” She didn’t care whether she lived or died.
But one day, it came to her to seek prayerful help from a Christian Science practitioner. Soon she found the cellphone number of a practitioner she had known years before, in an old notebook. She immediately called the practitioner, crying in despair. The practitioner’s loving response and willingness to pray for her touched her deeply. It was tangible evidence of God’s love—proof that “divine Love is never so near as when all earthly joys seem most afar” (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 290).
Within a few days she was able to get out of bed for a short time and eat something. She called the practitioner every day, listening intently to the spiritual truths she was sharing with her about her inseparability from divine Love and her perfection as God’s child. Within a month she was able to go for short walks near her house while she listened to the Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly. She began to eat more, take care of her house and her family once again, and go back to work. Although she was happy about these steps of progress, she didn’t know if she would be able to fulfill her assignments as capably as she had before. Within a few months, however, she was promoted to the position of deputy director at the institution where she was working.
In the dawn of a bright morning, all the disciples’ sorrows were transformed into overwhelming joy.
But, as she told me, the blessing was even greater. Last year she had the opportunity to take Christian Science Primary class instruction, which gave her a better understanding of how to pray and to practice Christian healing. Mrs. Eddy’s words in Unity of Good clearly express what she learned during this experience as a result of her growth in Christian Science: “Because God is ever present, no boundary of time can separate us from Him and the heaven of His presence; and because God is Life, all Life is eternal” (p. 37).
Nowadays, the dark period seems like a story to the woman, a narrative that does not belong to her and has no relation to her, because in reality, it never did. She now knows that it was the Christ, the Truth of God, that impelled her to seek help through prayer, and removed the anguish, desolation, and sense of loss, all of which stem from the false belief of a material history—even more fundamentally, the false belief of mind in matter, making life therefore appear finite and mortal. This is what Mrs. Eddy says seems to be the stone between us and our own resurrection morning, leaving us in the darkness of mortal existence. She also said, “We can only come into the spiritual resurrection by quitting the old consciousness of Soul in sense” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 179).
No belief of pain, sickness, hate, inharmony, or death can prevent the Christ from removing that stone, as Jesus fully demonstrated. The Christ comes to us today, as it did then, with the message that God, divine Life, has created us for His glory; that life is spiritual, and our reason for being is to express eternal Life, not suffer death; that suffering has no part in the divine will because God did not create it; and that matter does not constitute or limit the life of man because the only Life is God.
The Christian Science textbook explains that the eternal Christ, Jesus’ spiritual selfhood, never suffered, even though the human Jesus went through the ordeal of the crucifixion (see Science and Health, p. 38). This shows us that there is no death in Life, and no hatred in Love. That is what Jesus proved.
So, this Easter, let’s not allow sorrow over the crucifixion to dim the glorious splendor of Jesus’ resurrection; and of ours, which begins with an awakening to our spiritual identity, which never suffers or dies. This awakening goes on, day after day, as we grow in our understanding of the truth of being through our consecrated study of Christian Science—and through living it, practicing it, and yielding up false beliefs about matter for the spiritual understanding of reality. Then the influence of Christ, Truth, begins to be seen in human understanding with all its wonderful brilliance and healing power.
The Christ is always present, always ready to roll away the stone of materiality for us and destroy all evidence of sin, sickness, and death. As Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: “Glory be to God, and peace to the struggling hearts! Christ hath rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith, and through the revelation and demonstration of life in God, hath elevated them to possible at-one-ment with the spiritual idea of man and his divine Principle, Love” (p. 45).
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