The revealing Jesus What Scripture brings into the room

This section provides the practical Christology for pastoral supervision so that it is grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Christology presented in this section—the revealing, remembering, and restoring Jesus—is gleaned from a theological interpretation of three gospel passages: Luke 24:13-34, Luke 22:39-53, and John 21:1-14 (parallel in Lk. 5:1-11). The practical Christology framework is established by the revealing Jesus (Chapters 4-5), the remembering Jesus (Chapters 6-7), and the restoring Jesus (Chapters 8-9) and developed via three established theologians: Martin Luther (reformed), Emil Brunner (neo-orthodox), and James McClendon (small B baptist). In the first two chapters, a Christology of the revealing Jesus, guided by Luther’s Reformation Christ, animates three theologically rich practices: contemplating, critiquing, and converting.

Revealing Jesus: Luke 24:13-34 (on the road, Emmaus)

The promise and potential of this much-loved story for pastoral supervision is widely evident, being noted by many others. Fellow Australian Colin Hunter delivered a series of lectures at the Melbourne College of Divinity back in 2004 on the theme of ‘Harvesting Wisdom for Reflective Practice’ available as a complementary paper entitled ‘A Theology of Supervision’.1

Hunter develops his theological framework through an imaginative interpretation of the biblical narrative for supervision. Hunter rightly contends that ‘for Christian theology, the centre of salvation history, and therefore the human experience of God, is found in the person, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ’.2 The Luke 24 Emmaus account, however, serves primarily as an example and a bridge to a more allegorical reading that finds some major themes from this research—‘The Emmaus Road and the themes’—namely (1) experience as a locus of learning; (2) inter-subjective learning; (3) chosen vulnerability; and (4) revelation as a path to new understanding.3 Some will recognise an overlap with spiritual direction practices. For example, a popular spiritual renewal program in Australia, Emmaus Ministries, grounded in Luke 24:15 and connected to the international program Walk to Emmaus, seeks to ‘inspire, challenge, and equip local church members for Christian action in their homes, churches, communities and places of work’.4 While beginning with the right text, neither Hunter nor Emmaus Walk have provided the kind of Christological vision required for pastoral supervision in the twenty-first century. A much better example, because it is explicitly developed for pastoral supervision by leading authors and practitioners Jane Leach and Michael Paterson, is their reflection in the book Pastoral Supervision where six attitudes for the supervisor are discerned (hospitable, focussed, exploratory, monitored, forward facing, and effective).5 The attentiveness to both the biblical story and the supervision experience is evident as Jesus models these six attitudes en route to Emmaus.

The theory and practice of pastoral supervision requires a more robust Christology than a popularised form of ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ in the supervision room. The challenge for greater rigour in understanding the text emerges from activist-based theological reflections on Luke 24, such as that provided by Ched Myers in ‘Easter Faith and Empire: Recovering the Prophetic Tradition on the Emmaus Road’.6 Myers excludes sentimental notions of either cosy communion or chatty collaboration by noting the road to Emmaus

exists in popular churchly imagination as a contemplative stroll through a shaded landscape, a casual tete-a-tete delightfully interrupted by the Risen Lord. . . . The scenario portrayed in Luke’s gospel, however, is far more suggestive of present-day Iraq. Only forty-eight hours earlier Jesus of Nazareth had been summarily executed by the Roman military, in a fashion all too familiar to Palestinian Jews of the time: as a dissident prosecuted for resisting the ‘occupying authority’. A little narrative common sense, therefore, would suggest that the two disciples in our story would be neither leisurely nor calmly reflective at this particular moment/

Such biblical realism, however, is not just for Christian activists. Many supervisees enter the supervision room surprised, shocked, and saddened by what happened—often what they have witnessed. Sometimes it is an incident that occurred in the previous 24 hours but more often in the days or weeks preceding the supervision session. For many supervisees, the trials and trauma of pastoral work requires the revelation and redemption of a Christ who offers more than cosy chats by the fireside. This chapter will demonstrate that the revealing Jesus of Luke 24 is the risen Christ of revelation and redemption. A theological reading attends to the global function of the story, Bovon highlights distinction—made first by Tzvetan Todorov— between the ‘narrative’ logic that tells what is happening and the ‘ritual’ logic that explains what it is about.8 For an example of the latter, ritual logic, Luke Timothy Johnson astutely judges that Luke

shows us narratively the process by which the first believers actually did learn to understand the significance of the events they had witnessed, and to resolve the cognitive dissonance between their experience and their convictions. The resurrection shed new light on Jesus’ death, on his words, and on the Scriptures. The ‘opening of the eyes’ to see the texts truly and the ‘opening of the eyes’ to see Jesus truly are both part of the same complex process of seeking and finding meaning.9

I will interrogate Johnson’s observation about resolving the gap between experience and conviction as well as the role of the revealing Jesus in ‘opening of the eyes’ in the following section that explores both the narrative and ritual logic of Emmaus Road for pastoral supervision.

 
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