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The Correct Theology Didn’t Help These Guys

Ed Cyzewski is one of those people who writes the words I wish I could. He has some really important things to say to people who want to follow Jesus, through all the doubt and confusion anyway. I can hardly wait to read his new book, but in the meantime he’s written a few words here for us about theology and Jesus and other important stuff.

They witnessed miracles. They listened to hours and hours of perfect, undeniably correct teaching. They’d even had the future predicted for them.

They still doubted.

When calamity struck, they bolted. They didn’t join their friends in prayer. They didn’t wait for clarity. While they had every reason to believe, they couldn’t make sense of their experiences. Doubt was too much for them.

I wish we knew more about those two disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. There’s no doubt that they possessed more accurate information about Jesus than we could ever know. They’d lived the story of Jesus. They saw miracles. They listened to his teaching. They knew his death was coming.

At the times when things don’t add up about Christianity or the Bible, there are times when I can relate to their desire to run away.

I take comfort that Jesus showed up even as they ran away.

Looking back at their journey to Emmaus, there’s a part of me that wishes Jesus would just make his identity plain to them. Jesus opened their eyes to the scriptures, but they still didn’t say, “Aha!” and see him walking next to them. We only read that their hearts began to beat faster while speaking with this stranger.

In fact, they only recognized Jesus while sharing a meal with him. Their eyes were opened as he broke the bread. For those who doubt or who can’t make sense of the Bible, this story reminds us that our restless journeys don’t have to continue forever.

There’s a table waiting for you and for me. Jesus isn’t afraid that we’ll bring our doubts to the table with him. We can sit down with him at his table with our half-baked theology, disconcerting stories, and uncertain futures.

He reveals himself to the incomplete, the uncertain, the wandering, and the unattached.

These men left the table with a newfound certainty about Jesus, but it wasn’t certainty they gained along the road as Jesus taught them. Certainly those teachings fell into place, but the turning point for their faith wasn’t what they learned. They needed to sit with Jesus.

Much like the disciples we read about in Acts, they were witnesses of the risen Lord.

It may sound a little crazy to write this nearly 2,000 years after the time of Christ, but we too are called to bring our doubts to the table with Christ. We too are called to experience him, to walk away as witnesses.

Jesus didn’t waste his time teaching these men along the road. They surely used that knowledge. We too need to learn about Jesus. However, we’re setting ourselves up for failure if we expect our theology to do the heavy lifting.

Something will happen that sends us in a tailspin of doubt and second-guessing. When those beliefs start to wobble and fall, we may feel like all is lost. We may even run for it.

Before you give up on the whole story and cash in your hopes for cynicism, take a moment to stop at the table.

What if Jesus has been present in the midst of your wandering doubts? What if Jesus is waiting for you at the table, offering you the certainty of his presence?

He won’t change what has happened. He won’t always give us perfect answers.

He reminds us that he has walked this earth too. He has been broken and beaten. He has suffered and feared. He has felt grief and great loss.

He has felt all of these things, and still, he has overcome. He has come alongside us to remind us that he is the answer. He himself—mystically present among us. And that is enough.


Unfollowers1-page-0-e1390082227432Learn more about the doubters of Jesus and what their stories mean for us today in Ed’s book Unfollowers: Unlikely Lessons on Faith from the Doubters of Jesus.

Ed Cyzewski is the co-author of Unfollowers: Unlikely Lessons on Faith from the Doubters of Jesus and The Good News of Revelation. He shares his imperfect/sarcastic thoughts on following Jesus at and lives in Columbus, OH with his wife and son.

published March 26, 2014

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