Thursday, August 25, 2011

Walking through walls

The day begins with Jesus sealed inside a tomb behind a stone no person can move. Then, by day's end, it was the disciples who were sealed inside a tomb behind a stone that no person could move.

There in the upper room, they’re shut tightly inside. The threatening world is shut tightly outside. It’s like they have been hermetically sealed off from everything. Everything, including Jesus.

To a greater or lesser extent we all have times when we do that, don’t we? We try to seal ourselves off from everyone and everything, even God. It may happen when we’re hurt. Or when we’re afraid. Or when we dare not allow ourselves to hope. We seal ourselves off from the rest of the world: physically, mentally or spiritually.

The message of resurrection is a message of hope for all of us living in our own individual tombs. Or maybe I should say, it’s a message for all of us dying in our own individual tombs. God’s message to us is this –
You can try to seal yourself off from me if you want, but you can’t keep me out. I will come after you. I will hunt you down. If need be, I’ll walk right through the wall you’re hiding behind.

There have been times when I’ve hidden in the upper room with the disciples, behind a locked door, sealing myself off from the very one who would save me. I have struggled with clinical depression in my life. When I’ve been lost in my own despair, what I want to do is seal myself away where no one can get to me. I want to stay in my own little world and I don’t want to be around people who might challenge my distorted view of reality. I certainly don’t want to be bothered by a God who’s going to come to me with a message of hope in the midst of my hopelessness, who’s going to tell me that I’m worth as much to him as his own Son. I don’t want to hear that.

I have two favorite Bible passages and only recently realized why they mean so much to me. They’re both about the same thing. They’re a lot like the story where Jesus walks through a wall to get to the ones he loves.

The first one is Psalm 139.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

And then the other one is from Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Who will separate us from the God’s love? Will hardship or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?
Paul’s answer?
I am certain that there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Yep. I can relate to those crazy disciples who thought that they could actually keep him out by locking the door.

A passage from the Bible that I don’t connect with very well is the one where Jesus says that he stands at the door and knocks. I know there have been times in my life when he could knock until his knuckles bleed; I’m not about to open that door.

But the thing is, at those times, Jesus doesn’t bother knocking. He just appears. Sometimes in startling ways. Nearly always, it happens through community. Over the course of my life, many people have walked through walls for me and they probably don’t even know it. They seem to be oblivious to the walls I hide behind.

Jesus appears to us just as he did to the disciples. Whether we believe in the resurrection or not, the resurrected Christ appears to us. Whether we embrace the abundant new life or not, God gives it to us. Whether we welcome God into our lives or not, he’s with us, loving us every step of the way. The disciples couldn’t lock him out even if they wanted to. Jesus appears. Defying closed doors, and locked hearts. He simply appears.

There’s more to the resurrection than the story of Jesus breaking out of a sealed tomb. The resurrection is also about Jesus breaking into our sealed tombs. When we least expect him and when we most need him, Jesus appears.

1 comment:

Bill Bolen said...

What an incredible message today! Thanks so much!