No one around me seems confused by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But I am. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is this big SOMETHING that bothers me about it; or at least about the way we Christians interpret it. I’ve always attended traditional protestant churches. Every year we try to get in touch with the enormity of the sacrifice and subsequent miracle. Every year, we fail to feel the appropriate impact. I could segway into a post about desensitization here, but while that might be relevant, it isn’t what I’m getting at. Maybe the reason we can’t fully appreciate the death and resurrection is because we can’t fully understand it.
I really think that God is downright odd! I mean, he’s known our hearts from the very beginning, knew we would not choose him, knew we would require intervention and salvation. And yet, it had to be thousands of years after the fall, had to be complicated and involve things like prophesy and bloodlines… it seems so strange.
And in terms of sacrifice, well, God didn’t walk away empty-handed. I frequently hear people say that Jesus did what he did for our sakes. I think that is true, but not the whole story. Is God’s joy not affected by the joy of his creation? As a parent, I feel joy when my child feels joy and pain when she feels pain. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, but it does have an element of selfishness. I want to make her happy, in part because it makes me happy. I don’t want her to suffer, in part because I feel that, too. Is our idea of selflessness skewed? Maybe the focus should be on doing the will of God and focusing on the needs of others because that is the only way our own joy can be fully realized. And that is showing true gratitude to God. If he feels joy when I do, then I should do what I can to be genuinely happy. “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a commandment that is interesting in this context. We always emphasize the neighbor, but how many of us can say we love and value ourselves in a pure and right way?
I can’t tell you exactly why I believe (although I’m working on that) in the literal death and resurrection of Jesus, but I do. I believe that miracle is the reason humanity can have hope. I know people have tried to explain it metaphorically, but that really makes no sense to me at all. I used to think I had a brain that could handle abstract concepts, but lately they elude me.
So, I do think it’s possible our Lenten and Easter traditions miss the mark a bit. I also think that perhaps there is a big picture element here we can’t see; but I am still full of gratitude and awe. And the mystery only deepens my ever-present desire to know and understand my creator.