“It gets dark. Then it gets very dark. Then Jesus shows up.”
Those are the words of Bishop Willimon, theology professor at Duke University. Willimon was sharing how in a final exam question to “explain the gospels” this was one of the most poignant answers. He said in twelve words this student truly did summarize the entire gospel narrative.
There was darkness preceding the time of Jesus.
The people were immersed in darkness because they were always looking for something that was not there. Throughout history, as revealed in scripture we see people searching for that which they do not have.
First, they had judges, that wasn’t enough. They wanted “kings” like all the other tribes/groups of people. However, once God led them to have kings, that didn’t work out the way they had hoped either. Some of the kings were great – but some, not so much. Some were consumed with ego and power and led the Israelites in directions that were detrimental to their well-being.
Throughout the life span of the Hebrew people, God was working in and among them, they just couldn’t quite grasp it to see. Much like in The Shack God/Papa shared with Mack that God was ALWAYS there, throughout all of his pain. It was more of an issue that Mack couldn’t see God instead of the fact that God just didn’t show up.
In The Shack, the way God finally broke through to Mack was through the person of Jesus. That is symbolic of the way that God breaks through to us.
Palm Sunday is probably one of my favorite days of worship because it is a time when we can truly stop and identify with Christ. We get the whole concept of a parade, so we can imagine that instead of lining a street to wave at a giant mouse and his friends, we wave and adore someone who instituted life change. We can celebrate someone who has shown us how to live. (The mouse is in reference to the parades that many of us have attended at Disney.)
Franciscan priest Richard Rohr says, “Rather than being taught that we can and should follow Jesus as “partners in his great triumphal procession” (2 Corinthians 2:14), we were told to be grateful spectators and admirers of what he once did. Instead of a totally “Inclusive Savior” we made Jesus into an object of exclusive and exclusionary worship. Then we argued and divided over what kind of worship he preferred. Jesus never asked for worship, only that we “follow” him (Mark 1:18) as fellow attractors (“fishers of people”) and partners in “his triumphal procession.”
As we continue through the days of this week, what if we don’t just act as spectators, but what if we allow him to change us? What if we follow him – and in doing so become like him, abiding IN him?
Jesus showed up and broke the darkness. He brought hope encapsulated in grace.
And . . . he showed up for us. It’s up to us to allow him to show us the way.