Sunday, March 24, 2013

Two Hinges and a Door

I've often viewed the Story of Jesus' life on earth as two hinges and a door.  The hinges are his birth and death - both distinct hallmarks of his humanity.  The birth hinge is a glorious and humble event.  He came, subject to the same nine-month gestation that we all went through, and was born in the lowliest of circumstances to a peasant couple from a back-water town.  Quite the dubious beginning.

He likely apprenticed to his own father, I'm sure banging his thumb more than a couple times, and didn't seek out fame.  When he was "ready", he set out teaching as one of a continuous parade of itinerant rabbis.  Nothing of great note here, except that his followers, especially those closest to him, noticed something different.  They noticed a kind of authority lacking anywhere else they had looked.  And this was a pretty down-trodden people.  They had seen these teachers come and go and none of them even came close to what Jesus said and did.

So it really should surprise us that we see him coming into Jerusalem that day in a way that directly brought Zechariah 9:9 to the crowds' minds.  They had seen enough to believe this King had the staying power they sought to break the tyranny of Roman rule.  This was a people who hadn't been "free" in over a millenia and they were ripe for a coup.  The songs and praises rang out that Palm Sunday ... right up until the coup never happened.

That's where the second hinge of our story comes in.  After a sham trial that didn't even meet the legal standard for witnesses agreeing, the Rabbi was sentenced to death.  And the same crowds that were ready to welcome him as the king, cheered on the Roman soldiers as they administered the punishment.  There would be no coup - and the door, now set on those two hinges appeared closed for all time, just like every other human who lived.  He was born, lived a brief life, and died like a common criminal.  Case - and door - closed.

What nobody saw - and I'm thinking even his disciples were in this group - was that this was all part of a much bigger plan.  The Story of God's redemption required Jesus to go through all aspects of humanity the same way we did.  And, while his body lie in that borrowed tomb, the rescue effort was in full swing.  But that, my friends, is  story for next week.  For now, I'm encouraging you to see the door, on its two hinges, shut and dark.  Just like I didn't want to hurry past the Manger, I don't want to rush past the Cross.  The birth is necessary because it makes the death possible.

As I travel the Crooked Path this year, I want Holy Week to bring a special focus for me.  I want this last week of the Lenten season to ring home the grandeur of The Story in a way that only the darkest of climaxes can.  I want to prepare, once again, for the death of a close family member - my Divine Brother - who did so just for me.  I want to pause and grieve so that my relief next Sunday will be all that more genuine.  Pause with me and look at the door on its hinges - the door seemingly closed as seen by those who walked with Jesus over 2,000 years ago.  Don't rush through it - it will open soon enough.

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