“The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14).
Last evening, my husband and I went to view The Passion. The journey was wrought with emotions…raw and unsuspecting…vivid and poignant…horrific and compelling…lonely and hopeful…varied emotions all wrapped up within the span of two hours. Needless to say, I left the theatre in tangles…wanting desperately for a time of unraveling…a time of release to compartmentalize all that was swirling within.
After a brief time of dining, we made our journey home, only to find that our babysitter had been locked in the pantry for over an hour. Jadon and Amelia were fine…just a little curious as to how to release their friend from her captivity. After she was amply paid, I made my way to the couch and collapsed. With emotions at their peak, I began to fret over what “might have happened” to my little ones in the span of an unsupervised hour. My distress was apparent to my little boy, and in his need to make things OK, he told me he would read me a book. He toddled to his room and returned with his Early Reader’s Bible…just one of the dozens of books lining his bedroom bookcase. He settled in beside me and began thumbing through the pages until he came upon the picture he wanted. In his best, most convincing little boy voice he said,
“Once upon a time there was…Jesus. Do you feel better, Mommy?”
The tears flowed. I hugged my son and assured him that indeed, I did feel better. There’s just something about Jesus…about hearing that name…about seeing that face…about believing the faith of a three-year-old boy who’s already got a pretty good handle on who Jesus really is—the One who makes us feel better in times of despair. He could have picked out The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Goodnight Moon. He could have reached for his Little Critter books or his books about sea animals. He could have picked the familiar. But instead, his search took him to the extraordinary. A book with the face of a Friend.
Tell me…how does a three-year-old know the difference between heaven and earth? Where did that encounter begin? When does faith take hold of a heart? Can a child as young as three really reach beyond the natural and take hold of the supernatural? If you had been with me on the couch last night…your answer would have been a resounding “yes.”
Faith becomes real with the Story. Whether you read in a book or see it on the big screen. Whether you hear it from the pulpit or witness it in a friend. Whether you have walked the roads of adversity or whether you have walked the roads of Jerusalem. It all begins with the Story. I witnessed in the theater last night. The Story. Sometimes, a road familiar for those of us who have walked its path throughout the course of our faith. Sometimes, a road seemingly new to those who have never made it past the Angels, the Wiseman, and the Manger. Many times, totally foreign pilgrimage for those who have never held the Word in their hands.
There’s just something about Jesus, and all who encountered him knew this to be true.
Mary knew. She birthed him. She taught him. She groomed him for the role he would one day play. She grieved with him through each agonizing step toward the cross. She knew.
His friends knew. Peter, John, and the rest. They knew the power of the One they had encountered. The One who had washed their feet and fed them bread. The One who had drawn them close in the Garden. The One who had calmed their storms and drew them out from a life of obscurity into a life of authenticity. They knew.
Pilate knew. Knew there was just something about this Jesus. This One called Messiah. While history does not record the entire “artistic license” that was shown in The Passion, I believe that Pilate knew. For that matter, I believe the Pharisees and the Romans knew. Knew that there was something extraordinarily different about this Jesus.
Jesus…the Word…came and lived among us for a while. And with him, he brought the grace and truth that would penetrate the darkness of our souls. The road to Calvary was lined with eyes that witnessed this Mystery…this Jesus…this Flesh among us. They had the rare privilege of seeing, face to face, the Lover of their souls. And I believe their encounter with their Savior, left every last one of them saying… “There’s something about that Jesus.” While all did not believe in his truth…his grace…his mystery…all had the opportunity to respond.
And so it is today. Many have heard the Story. Many have embraced it as their own. Many have walked away. Many have yet to hear. One cannot hear the Truth…one cannot witness the Story…one cannot encounter the marvelous and loving grace of Jesus…and walk away the same. There is something about the Story. Something so compelling…so absolutely mysterious and divine…something so necessary, that it calls for decision. Acceptance or rejection.
Perhaps, today, you need to hear the Story once again. Pick up the Word and read about it. Go and see it on the big screen. Visit a church and find it in the people. And if it is still not clear, come on over to my house. Settle in on a big couch with a little boy whose perspective clears the way of any indifference, and hear the words again…
“Once upon a time there was…Jesus.”
Get that perspective, and you hold the keys to the Kingdom.
Happy Easter from my life to yours!