Laboring to breathe, he forcibly inhaled so he could sputter his last parable to a group of women who were weeping because of the tragedy that had befallen him.
“Don’t weep for me, but weep for yourselves…” his lips quivering under the weight of the insight.
Even in agony Jesus was attempting to align misguided perspectives to see the right thing.
He continued, “…If they do these things to a green tree, what will they do to a dry one?”
Easter/Passover 2020 will always be remembered because humanity is faced with tragedies of worldwide proportions that come from the tentacles of a virus. These moments are revealing much about what is hidden in our hearts and what the make up of it should be. Witnessing deaths has a way of waking us up to what life is about.
This Easter, the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection has more weight to it, particularly for us who believe. And the meaning begins to be uncovered by what Jesus said to the group of women.
A green tree represents potency and fruitfulness. Within the social environment, Jesus was like that tree: he healed sick folk, fed hungry groups and partied with outcasts. All on his dime. All with his own power.
Why would they want to get rid of someone who isn’t a drain on society but an asset to the health of the nation?
Maybe because the health of the nation wasn’t their primary goal. Keeping power and position was first, then the health of the nation came second. If they crucified a person who was an asset, what would they do to other folk?
And who was the “they” of Jesus’ metaphor?
WHO IS THE “THEY”
It’s easy to say the ruling elite but Jesus also made sure to connect the actions of the “elite” who judged him with the spiritual realm’s power to influence the hearts of humanity. (We see this in Matthew 26:64, when Jesus identified himself as the Son Of Man and by consequence, his judges as the beast written about in the book of Daniel chapter 7).
In that moment in history, when Jesus spoke with those women, “they” represented the hearts of humanity overall – driven by self preservation because of the backdrop of death. We all have that heart. Those are the very hearts Jesus claimed to come rescue from the grips of unrighteousness.
But first he had to die so he could stretch our understanding of what life really is.
WHAT IS LIFE?
In today’s world we can find many people touting on instagram and YouTube that they know how to make life better. There are many who, as a business model, brand their “lifestyle” as a blueprint to follow of what life is about.
If I were to ask “What is life about”, every answer that you can come up with is possibly accurate and helpful. But Jesus’ resurrection throws a monkey wrench in how we perceive the foundation of life. The scriptures testify that Jesus rose up alive from the dead and the way it was captured in the scriptures changes everything.
Here’s what I mean. The scriptures don’t say that he died then became some disembodied spirit; it says he had a human body. But without blood. The implications? The Life that he came to reveal doesn’t require blood in the body to live. Life is sparked and sustained by the Spirit Of God.
Yet, with his body, he ate food. Implications? The Life that he came to reveal is about living ON earth.
So what is that life about? I can’t fully understand it yet but I know it is more potent than self preservation. Death is like a dreadfully painted veil draped over the edges of our imagination that needs to be torn down. The images goad us to behave in unflourishing ways.
But just like a stretched plastic bag never goes back to its natural dimensions, Jesus’ disciples witnessing him alive after being dead changed everything they perceived about life…and death. And this view reprioritized their value system.
How does this relate to the tragedies of 2020 so far? Here’s my quote:
Don’t weep because death is showing its fangs, weep because those in positions of power would rather fight for their position than fight for the poor, sick, hungry and marginalized, who are literally laboring to breathe.
That’s the hidden message of Easter/Passover – the hearts of humanity is misaligned.
And the prescriptive message of Easter – the gospel (God came to stretch our hearts back to its right dimensions).
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