The Risen Truth

‘The resurrection of Jesus, then, is not simply the raising and the restoration to the world of his past identity (though that is a vital component in the situation … ). Equally importantly, it is the ‘raising’ of the past identity of those who have been with him. The risen truth shows us the self-deceptions which have drawn us into the vortex of destructiveness. “Look”, says the risen Christ, “and see that, whatever your hopes and your longings, you were still trapped in fantasy, in blindness to yourselves and to the reality confronting you. Look how you trapped me and handed me over to death. Learn the depth of your resistance to the truth.” And yet the whole of that past that is shared with Jesus is now to be transformed: as we learn the truth of its tragic character, we learn also that the tragedy is interwoven with hope. The truth incarnate, present in the human world, is instantly, inevitably, entangled with the luxuriant tendrils of human fantasy and self-deceit. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we are reminded of the longing of disciples and “multitude” alike for a saviour congruent with their projections and aspirations. There is no breaking-free from this web, because entanglement in it is inseparable from human being – the conditions of imperfect knowledge and imperfect communication, combined with the urge to structure and subdue the world and tame its contingency. And thus truth in this world is a stranger, essentially and profoundly vulnerable (so the Fourth Gospel reiterates again and again): its connection with or participation in the world involves rejection, crucifixion outside the city gates. Yet it has entered the world, it has allowed itself to be linked with the sphere of destructive untruth; and even if rejected, it cannot be annihilated. If Calvary shows the links between truth and untruth pulling the former down towards extinction, Easter shows us those same links, the same interconnectedness of the human world, reversed, so that truth draws untruth up towards the light. Our connection with truth, with Jesus, has led to the cross; his connection with us remains, indestructibly, to assure us that our betrayal is not the ultimate fact in the world. We may betray, but the world characterized by betrayal is now interwoven with a reality incapable of betrayal. God’s faithfulness has worn a human face, through Calvary and beyond. The incarnate truth, “risen from the dead”, establishes that faithfulness as the ground of inexhaustible hope in the world, even in the midst of our self-deceits’.

– Rowan Williams, Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1982), 41–2.

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