Monday, April 6, 2009

The ticking clock

Holy week.  While most of the known (and unknown) world was going about its business, Jesus must have been wholly aware of the ticking clock.  Everything He did, touched, said had the scent of "last time" to it.  I've lived through several endings myself, so I know how it feels.  The end of high school, college, leaving a job to go to Europe, leaving my single life to become Mrs. Beve (I NEVER call myself this, but what the heck!).  Moving from one town to another around this great state of ours.

But my measly endings were all mixed bags--the sadness of one life ending, combined with the joy of the new life ahead.  There's always been something wonderful just around the corner. And let's be honest, I've never had to face my own mortality.  I've awakened in a morning wondering if it would be the last one I ever see.  So I have paltry first-hand experience with what Jesus faced that Passover week, when the streets of Jerusalem were flooded with people on holiday.  Imagine that.  Imagine the increasing weight on Him as He walked among them, knowing how little time was left.

It occurs to me that the last week of Jesus' life most resembles that of a prisoner on death row who knows the date of execution.  Their realm of life is puny by then, and they've already had most of their 'last things' before they committed the crime that put them in this small space.  Still, the knowing, the terrible haunting that death is coming, that a man-made, witnessed death awaits must be a terrible burden--even if they deserve it.  Maybe that makes it worse.  But maybe not.

All I know is that for Jesus, who knew the hour was upon Him, that approaching death made Him get to the heart of the matter, in a way.  To cry and pray over Jerusalem, to demonstrate those prayers by clearing the temple.  It made Him wash His disciples' feet to prepare them for what lay ahead.  And when a woman annointed His feet, He saw it for what it was, a picture of burial annointing.  In every conversation, every prayer, every touch, death was the nuance behind His tone.

I think it made Him unusually serious, burdened with another weight He'd never carried before, either.  Jesus anticipated, not merely the loss of His human life--the execution of it!--but the far larger loss of His Father.  "I and my Father are one," He'd often said.  But now He faced the ripping of the fabric of that unity.  Imagine facing the first moments EVER--in your life, in your pre-Incarnation, in the whole history of creation--where You weren't in communion with God.  Imagine the moment when God turned His face from you for the first time.  No wonder there was deep and terrible sorrow. In a sense, it was then--in His last/first separated moments from God--that He was most like us.  Separated by sin, the One who'd known no sin.  And it killed Him.

And it kills me to think of it, frankly.  That my sin-filled, natural existence is the one thing that killed God.  Had to kill Him, of course, but also just did so by the dirt and filth and infected sin of it put on His wholly Holy self.  To think of moving from union with God to union with sin.  Volitionally.

So that I can make the opposite move.  His death so that I can move from union with sin to union with God.  Think of that.  My journey the mirror of His.  His journey the weighty antecedent of mine.  He came my direction so that I could go His.  And I do.  I take one step closer today, and one more tomorrow.  Closer and closer to the One-ness He gave up for me.

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