Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday

Saturday. The day after... the day that life goes on.

Those in shock from their awful grief closed the blinds and laid low, but the rest of the world was back to business, business as usual. The markets were open, a new curtain had been installed in the temple, and the total eclipse of the sun was yesterday's news. Some soldier had a new tunic; the rest a pile of cleaning rags for polishing their weapons.

Life goes on. Nobody is indispensable, and the death of one rabble rouser had changed nothing for Rome's mighty empire. So they believed.

Jesus said: I tell you for certain that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce much wheat. If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life. — John 12:24-25

What beautiful words... words of encouragement and promise. Do they really stick? Do they sink into our consciousness and direct our choices and decisions? I don't think so. We point to Jesus and think: all very well and good for you, you rose from the dead. You were special. Yet none of your disciples rose from the dead when they were martyred for your sake. What about that?

What about that? Many Christians cling to Christ's resurrection as a hinge to hang their faith upon. Yes, Jesus died, but he rose from the dead! Yet the risen Jesus was not the same man who died. Nobody seemed to even recognize him until he spoke their name or did something familiar that jogged their memories. He had changed. He appeared and disappeared, walked through walls, and eventually he left them again. In a cloud of glory to be sure, but he was still gone.

So if we don't get to do all that too, then what do those words mean? In The Universe Story, the sacrificial nature of creation is heavily emphasized. Something or someone always dies so that something or someone else can live. The grass eats the sun, the cow eats the grass, I eat the cow... but it's much more complex than where we live on the food chain. Jesus spoke in riddles about holy mysteries too vast for us to understand. Perhaps his rising from the dead was simply another parable. Some believe it was his reward for being obedient, but it may have been just one more example of the mysterious grace of God.

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