2011-06-15 - A Familiar Story
"He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" (Luke 24:6-7 NIV)
Question to Consider: What was it like for you when you first heard the story of Jesus' death and resurrection? How did you feel and respond, when you realized He lived and died to be your Lord and Savior?
One of the things writing instructors say over and over to their students is that becoming too familiar with a piece of one's own writing can be dangerous. What they mean is that it becomes easy to overlook flaws or errors, when we're working with a piece day after day, because we get too accustomed to the words and phrases. These instructors suggest that writers put whatever they're working on aside for a few days, or longer, so they can look at it with "fresh eyes." I have found this to be solid advice. It's amazing how many punctuation, grammar, or sentence structure errors one can pick up on this way. I'm often surprised at the problems I instantly catch, when reviewing a piece of writing I have not looked at in a while.
I think that, at least for some of us, this can happen with the story of Jesus, too. If we grow up hearing it in Sunday School and church, we kind of get used to it, even the death and resurrection part. We don't mean to, and I'm not saying we should stop reading the Bible or attending church so we get some "space" from the story of who Jesus is and what He has done for us as Christians. The thing is, though we probably don't realize it or do it intentionally, we often respond to the story more like we would respond to a reminder of something, not as if it is something exciting and amazing. For many of us, it's the "Good News" but it isn't exactly "new news." We know the plot, the characters, the ending, and the point. It's a moving story and a true one. We know that. We are impacted by it, sure, but rarely as much as we were when we first heard it.
Sometimes, we need to be presented with this familiar story in a different way than what we're used to, in order to truly realize how extraordinary it is. Sometimes,we have this experience of truly appreciating the impact of the story when we watch a dramatic production or musical dramatization. Other times, a particularly poignant sermon or song gets our attention. I was on the phone with a friend, on Easter Sunday. He's been reading me CS Lewis's classic "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." As it happened, we were at the part where the great lion Aslan submits to being killed, and then comes alive again. CS Lewis describes how the girls, Susan and Lucy, watched in horror and sadness as Aslan's death took place, how they mourned and tended to his lifeless body, and then how joyful and amazed they were when he came back to life in the next chapter.
Hearing the story of Jesus through a parallel story somehow made it feel more real to me than it had in a while. Connecting with the emotions Susan and Lucy were experiencing helped me connect with the emotions Mary Magdalene and the other women must have felt then, and how much joy and hope there is in the story of His resurrection and triumph over sin and death. Jesus voluntarily went through enormous suffering and humiliation, to fulfill a higher purpose. He gave up His power and submitted to an excruciating punishment reserved for the worst of criminals, to save me from my own wrongdoing. He rose from the dead to triumph over sin and death, and to show that He truly was and is the Messiah. He did that for me and you - because of how much He loves us.
Lord, help us never to get so used to the story of what You did for us that we take it for granted. Help us to remain excited and moved by Your love for us, and by the fact that You lived and died to save us from our sins. We thank You for being our Lord and Savior. Amen.