“Celebrating Easter” – it sounds very pious, doesn’t it? But Easter is tricky to “celebrate”. It’s not like Christmas. We celebrate Christmas because it is unequivocal good news: the Saviour has been born to us! Aslan is on the move! But Easter is a different story. It is tragedy, high drama, horror. And yet it is hope, light and incredulity. I can’t celebrate my Jesus being ripped to shreds for things He didn’t do. I can, though, celebrate His conquering of the monster Death. And I can celebrate, too, the extraordinary courage it took for Him to face the cross. Knowing God was His Father wasn’t a ticket to confidence for Jesus. He knew exactly what sort of father He had … beautifully, lovingly ultimate, but inscrutable and agenda’d. Jesus was committed to that agenda, but He was stressed. And He could have gotten out of it. But He threw all of His trust into the Father; and to the world looking on that day, He was proved a fool. But to the universe looking on that week, He was proved the champion.
I wonder if it’s like that for the modern-day martyrs, who place all their reliance in One who said He would save them and protect them, only to have their heads cut off on Syrian beaches. We will never know, on this side of Reality, whether or not Jesus appeared to them inside their hoods, and strutted up and down like Guido in Life Is Beautiful, mocking the killers who thought they were winning. Even if He didn’t, they weren’t. We will not know for a very long time how complete the martyrs’ victorious homecoming was – if Heaven staged a ticker-tape parade for these people the villains saw only as losers and infidels. I have to cling to this. I have to believe that what we saw was only a slice of the whole story. It’s one vignette in a trailer for an unspeakably epic movie, and like most trailers, what you see isn’t reflective of the overall story arc. We’re living in this trailer and it isn’t even a highlight reel. Much of the time, it’s trailer trash.
Can anything good be upcycled from trash?
The whole premise of the Gospel story is preposterous.
Looked at baldly, this is how it reads:
“I will give you every advantage, including My heart, and you will throw it all away betting on your own ingenuity. Everything will then be wrecked. I will spend millennia showing you the path back. I will send you the One dearest to My heart to reconnect that path. You will torture Him to death. I will get Him back, and we will then offer to adopt you.”
Jesus’s commandments for us to love our enemies and forgive all offences might be a tall order, but you can’t say He doesn’t practise what He preaches!
You could posit a god who thumbs his nose at a creation bent on rebellion, and just walks away, leaving us to massacre each other The One-style. You could posit a god who incinerates the planet in a fit of rage. If you really, really stretched your imagination, after several centuries you might come up with a god who was actually capable of forgiving such outrageous acts as the scourging and crucifying of his clone-son. But nobody is insane enough to envisage a God who would then turn around and say, “I did this for you, because I love you and can’t bear to lose you. See My family of three? We are holy. We are unparalleled in the universe because We are outside it and created it. We are untouchably pure and elevated unless We choose to descend. And this family of light, of unequalled wisdom, of pure intellectual and passionate love, this Three-in-One – We have decided to open Our home. We would like you to come live with us, and be centred in our love forever. Not with daily reproach, either – with full pardon, to be celebrated and cherished, and with full inheritance rights. Just wait ‘til you see your room!”
This is what makes me fall on my knees. That while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.