From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. (Matthew 16:21 NLT)
Sometimes I wonder what it must be like for people coming to Canada from tropical countries. If you have never seen it, would you believe it if someone told you, “There is a season coming when all the trees and plants and grasses will die? The world will be too cold for them to live and if you are not careful to find shelter and a source of heat you could die too. But don’t worry. After a few months of cold and long nights, they will come back to life again.”
I wonder if someone who has never heard of this or experienced it before would respond, “How exciting!’ or would they say, “No way! We will protect our gardens nd fields!” Many immigrants have told me their first winter was a shock and felt like it was never going to end.
Jesus told his disciples clearly, and more than once, precisely what was going to happen. When it did, they were shocked and dismayed. For all his declarations that Jesus would not be mistreated and killed under his watch, Peter had to face the fact that he was dead wrong. Jesus was arrested, humiliated, abused, and killed. The shock was so traumatizing it took a time before they remembered that he told them he would be raised after three days. But how? They still had no grid for that.
Yesterday, I passed by a vine-covered wall. There has been no sign of life on those bare branches for months. Now there is. What appeared to be dead is awakening to new life.
Today’s prompt word for Creative Meditations for Lent is Sorrow/Joy. Sometimes terrible things happen. We reel with the shock of photos of bodies in the streets in the Ukraine. We wail at the news of friends dying of Covid and other afflictions after we prayed with fervour and declared they would not die. We make plans for next week, next year, and the next decades and deny as much as possible that we live in mortal bodies that 1 Corinthians 15 reminds us are perishable, even though as believers in Christ we are promised eternal life.
Perhaps the lesson we can learn from new green leaves on a bare vine is this: Even though we have no grid for resurrection from the dead in new bodies, it will happen. There is more to the passage on running the race than I quoted earlier this week.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12: 1-3)
Oh, how I love the spring! What a harbinger of much greater joy!