Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Power of the Execution

A Meditation on John 20:1-12

I thought I would share with you what I have been thinking about during this season of Resurrection.

When we describe the cross as an execution we begin to enter into the real world of the early Christ-followers. They could only see and expect something ugly in the wake of the horror of the cross. That Jesus rose from the dead was inconceivable, impossible and far from even the grandest dream of Peter, the other disciple and Mary. They went to see a dead friend, a hoped for Messiah but not a risen Savior. They were more realistic in the death of Jesus than most people around me. They faced death, grieved it and had a healthy respect for wailing. But they did not anticipate an empty tomb. Resurrection was not in their vocabulary. As the authors of John's gospel wrote this very existential reflection he is reflecting on an event that even after all those years still took him to the edge of the world as we know it. What happened was so breathtaking and supernatural that human categories of understanding failed them. That this is true is sobering. Human categories failed them even after so much contemplation. This is the One of whom he writes in him was light and the light is the life of men. Yes! How could I not see something so immense at work here that it redefines my life and all lives around me.

Their humanity shines through as we see that they were numb to the reality of the empty tomb. The scant belief of Peter and the other disciple who went home after seeing the gave clothes and the uncontrollable weeping of Mary who's pain was worsened by the belief that Jesus' body had been stolen. She wept despite the angels! Angles at the head and feet of his grave clothes. She is more a cynic that a gullible woman. When Jesus comes to her she still refuses to see.

But the thing that reminds me of my family is that this gospel focuses on the restoration of relationships. John who said that his sheep know his voice said to the woman, "Mary". Then she said Rabboni - precious tender teacher and fell at his feet to grasp him. But somehow he had to ascend to the Father. We can't rise up to God. Jesus came down to us and he raises us up.

So there it is my family, my friends. This is what has touched me most deeply lately. This is the truth that is remaking me. If there is not mystery then my life is too small. But at the empty tomb there is more mystery than I can take in. Give me the Jesus of the empty tomb. Anything less and I am worse than worthless. I know how desperately I need God but it is the recalibrating of all reality at the cross and empty tomb that sets me on a new road of hope.

I am so thankful that because of Jesus, God does have me in his grip. This makes me thinks of my daughter. In his grip! That is where we are invited to live. And it there that we gain the kind of courage to do the kind of work my son Jeremiah does with people who are struggling to gain their citizenship and all other sort of problem. It is in the grip of God that hope for American lies for my sons Micah and Tom. It is in his grip that Kerry and I serve two little congregations in this almost forgotten part of California. God thank you that because we are in your grip our practicing of resurrection will make a difference.

1 comment:

  1. You wrote: That Jesus rose from the dead was inconceivable, impossible and far from even the grandest dream of Peter, the other disciple and Mary.

    You lump those three characters together but scripture paints a different picture regarding one of them, because before anybody had even been told that Jesus was risen from the dead we are told the other disciple "saw and believed" (upon his entering the tomb where he could see the linen napkin along with the graveclothes). No such reaction is ascribed to Peter on that morning even though he also saw those items in the tomb. has a free Bible study that compares scripture with scripture in order to highlight facts about the "other disciple, whom Jesus loved" that are often overlooked. It may be worth your time to consider the presentation of biblical evidence that it offers.