Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Jesus wants everybody happy, happy, happy and He doesn't want anybody sad!"

These are lyrics from a common kids' jingle. Any thinking believer obviously would agree that there is more to Christianity than just being happy all the time. This Easter I've begun to wonder how much this sort of kid's theology has permeated mature Christianity. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are rightfully the climax of the year for believers, but how do we present it? How do we think about it? I wonder if we are so eager to get to the joy of the resurrection that we unwittingly mitigate the impact of the crucifixion.

The gospel of John is largely an account of Christ's last few weeks on earth. Chapters 13 through 19 climax towards the crucifixion while only 2 chapters cover the resurrection and the events following it. Maybe it would be better to sit for a while and let the full impact of the worst day in history to really sink in. Do we really understand the betrayal of a closest friend? The reversal of popular opinion in Jerusalem? The confusion and desperation of Pilate? What about the heart of Mary being shredded as she helplessly watched the inhuman treatment of her first son? The pounding regrets Peter felt as the last moments with his friend and leader were vehement exclamations of denial? The fear and bewilderment of disciples who expected to follow Christ to a kingdom, not a cross? And what about Christ? How deeply do we feel the utter abandonment He experienced from his friends, disciples, and even His Father? His silence at the rigged trial by his countrymen? The humiliation and pain experienced at the hands of calloused soldiers? Do we understand Him being hated for His perfection and being crucified for His love? Is it even possible to understand His concern for his mother's well being and for the soul of a thief while dangling in utter agony from a tree? This was the worst day in human history. The blackest. The end. Deicide. Those in bondage killing their only Savior. It was finished!

Then came Sunday!! The cry "It is finished" now screams hope and salvation rather than desperation.

I'm not arguing for a diminishing of the resurrection. It should be everything to us (1 Corinthians 15). However, it would do us well to spend some time absorbing the darkness of John 13-19 before basking in the light of John 20-21. I believe the incomprehensible miracle of the resurrection will appear more spectacular as we absorb the darkness that brought us there. The sun is always more radiant after a spell of rain. The flowers of spring are always more beautiful after a long, cold winter.

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