Gracefully Truthful


Read His Words Before Ours!

John 12:1-8
Matthew 27:3-10
Psalm 41:7-9
John 20:19-29
1 Corinthians 2:1-4

Bri’s story: Doubt’s Deconstruction
It was the perfect storm.

After a decade trying to stay afloat while raising my babies, I heaved myself onto the shores of What’s Going On in the Outside World. The church in America seemed nearly unrecognizable. At the same time, I finally began to stumble out of postpartum depression and anxiety, and when I examined my own faith, what once seemed solidly familiar was suddenly foreign.

If my faith was a tapestry, I began to see threads twisted, knotted, mildewing. Not every thread, though; in order to identify which threads were sacred art and which were laced with half-truths, shame, and fear, I’d need to painstakingly interrogate every thread.

Judas’ story: I knew it.
I knew it!” I muttered, enraged, as I slipped through the darkened honeycomb passages leading to the temple.

Tonight’s events undeniably confirmed my certainty this rabbi was a weak, unholy coward. As His popularity grew, He became increasingly dangerous. It was time to end this messianic charade.

As a child in Kerioth, I memorized sacred texts; as a man, I, along with fellow tribesmen of the Sicarii*, vowed to pursue radical solutions to our people’s oppression. When the messiah appeared, we were prepared to fight alongside him. 

I knew every prophecy foretelling the messiah. 

I knew He would restore the kingship of David’s line while obliterating Rome.
(Isaiah 11, Jeremiah 23:5-8)

My faith never wavered.
I never questioned, never doubted.

Three years ago, the rabbi’s power drew my attention. Almost effortlessly, He’d gained a following, and I was eager to join His inner circle. 

Disappointment quickly followed. Yes, He possessed power, but he wasted it exclusively on trash: lazy poor, unclean sick, disgusting sinners, ethnic rats. 

But then I was assigned to money-keeping. The Sicarii’s plans were costly; suddenly, I had access to funding.

Tonight, when that woman approached the rabbi with her pot of oil, my mind raced with all it could buy for our revolt. (John 12:1-8) But she fell before the rabbi and I watched, horrified, as she shattered the cask, pouring oil over his feet. Enough!! Time to end the madness.

I knew the Pharisees were seeking to arrest the rabbi. I had an idea, one that might recoup some of the evening’s financial losses. I hurried on.

Thomas’ story: What if . . . 
What if we were wrong all along?”, I whispered. My twin brother Philip reclined next to me, staring at the star-spiked sky. Well into the second watch of the night, sleep eluded us.

For years, we’d served alongside Jesus, believing He was the prophesied Messiah. Yet, He confounded our expectations at every turn. 

What if the ‘kingdom of heaven’ doesn’t mean our national government?” (John 18:36; Matthew 10:5-8) Jesus showed no political aspirations.

What if we’re not meant to align ourselves with the powerful in order to protect ourselves?” (Matthew 20:25-28) Jesus didn’t hesitate to speak truth to power, didn’t cower before or curry the favor of religious or civil leaders.

What if, instead, we’re called to serve those who’ve been cast aside?” (Luke 5:29-32, Luke 17:11-19) Jesus consistently treated the powerless and oppressed with compassion, mercy, and dignity.

What if God wants nothing to do with our sacrifices and rituals, our self-declared righteousness based on rules and performance?” (Matthew 23:23-36) Jesus called us to repentant hearts devoted to and transformed by God.

Jesus upended nearly every aspect of our faith. 

Was I willing to abandon all I thought I knew, building my faith afresh on Jesus?

Judas’ story: I knew it.
I collapsed against the tree, its corded bark cutting into my skin. I knew it, my mind screamed. I’d known the priests would refuse to take the money back, refuse to stop the sham trial and execution of an innocent man. (Matthew 27:3-10)

Everything had changed in one blinding instant.

I’d enjoyed the cruelty of the mocking voice popping into my mind over the last few days as it sliced into others (Luke 23:3-6; James 2:19). . . but suddenly found its knife edge sliding between my own ribs.

“You were wrong about everything, you worthless piece of trash!” it cackled. 

And all of my certainty, my unquestioning faith, had broken with a thunderous crack.

A supernova of shame exploded within me.
My soul bubbled and shriveled.
Holding so tightly to my interpretation of the truth, I’d completely missed the Truth Himself. (John 14:6)

Now only one thing remained:
Jesus was the Christ.
And I’d handed Him over to be crucified.

I pulled the length of rough cord from my satchel and rose.

Thomas’ story: What if . . . 
What if I was wrong, again?

I’d been willing to abandon a lifetime of preconceived certainties, believing only one thing mattered: 
Jesus the Christ.
And then He was crucified.

My fledgling faith crumpled, ashen, and bloodless.

Now I huddled in a secret room with other followers, hiding from religious authorities. The conversation was dominated by wild rumors claiming Jesus’ miraculous resurrection.

At first, none of the men believed. But one by one, they’d all seen Jesus alive, spoken with Him, eaten with Him.
(John 20:19-24)

Except for me.

And I was too acutely aware of the barbarous realities of crucifixion,
my bruised and aching heart too vulnerable to risk believing again.

But what if, my heart whispered, what if you saw Him?
If your faith is truly only built on Christ, and He stood resurrected before you, could you believe? Would you surrender everything you thought you knew, even the boundaries of life and death, to embrace Him again?

Well . . . maybe. I’d been wrong before.

“But,” I insisted aloud, “if I don’t see the nail marks in his hands, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25)

Behind me, an astonishingly familiar voice broke the silence surrounding my pronouncement.

Peace be with you.” (John 20:26-29)

Incomprehensible joy exploded within me, bursting out, “My Lord and my God!

Bri’s story: Truth’s Victory
My perfect storm of deconstruction darkened as I devoted a year to caregiving for my grandmother followed by wrestled with the realities of suffering and grief after her death. 

While preparing to write this study, allegations of abuse arose against a well-loved pastor.

Reeling, I wondered,
what was left of my faith?

Into the emptiness, a voice I was learning to hear all over again gently spoke.

Only one thing remains, Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

*Author’s Note:
There is much discussion around Judas Iscariot’s background. I have chosen one possible backstory, but we hold this loosely. Scholars don’t have enough information to confidently prove Judas’ association with the Sicarii.

Regardless, Judas’ story reminds us we all have a choice in handling our doubts.
Scour for truth or construct our own ideologies about Jesus, the Author of Truth.

In the end, whether we choose to embrace it or not,
Only one thing remains, Christ and Him crucified”.

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