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Dave Brisbin

Life in Motion

Ever wonder why the resurrection accounts in the gospels are written the way they are?

We crave details and explanations for the event itself, but the gospels are uninterested in satisfying our obsession with certainty. The central event takes place offstage, and the story picks up after it happens, following Jesus’ friends, their reactions and choices. The gospels are focused on the effect of the resurrection on Jesus’ first followers, not on the resurrection itself.

This is a huge distinction that shows us where to look…not at the miracle, but at how the miracle affects our lives. It’s fascinating that no one recognized the risen Jesus at first sight. We wonder if Jesus looked different or whether he was miraculously hiding himself for some reason, but the truth is that the followers’ minds, like any human mind, were not yet prepared to see what they considered impossible. The gospels are telling us that seeing the risen Jesus is more process than event, a process of becoming ready to see beyond the limitation of our programming. We focus on the external event. The gospels focus on the interior process.

In every gospel story of eventual recognition, the smallest, most intimate and familiar gesture breaks the spell our minds cast over our seeing. Mary hears her name called as she heard it a thousand times, Clopas sees the breaking of bread at supper in Emmaus, Peter feels the pulsing weight of fish in his nets after a catchless night. Intimate connections experienced over and over show us who we are, and those same tiny details prove our identity to each other, not big events. If we want to see the risen Jesus—the focus of Christian spirituality—where do we look? The women who come to find Jesus in the tomb are asked why they seek the living among the dead. What a question.

Life is defined by motion. No motion, no life.

If Jesus is alive, he’s in motion too, not among the static dead, among set beliefs about past events. We will always find the risen Jesus in the center of all our motion. Among the living. In all the tiny, familiar, intimate movements of our own lives or not at all.


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