Reading The End Of The Story
Today's lectionary text for today comes from Luke 24:44--a moment when the resurrected Jesus appears suddenly and mysteriously to his disciples while they are gathered together in a room.
He calms them down, hangs out with them, and even eats some broiled fish.
I actually love that Luke's Gospel includes these details. It makes it seem so down-to-earth, so absolutely real. And then Jesus begins to exhort his followers with these words:
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”I had to wonder why this particular passage was included in the Lenten readings for the Daily Lectionary.
It seems a bit odd, doesn't it? Why would we be reading about a post-resurrection moment when we haven't even gotten to the point in the story where Jesus goes to Jerusalem and ultimately is crucified?
Here's what I have come to realize about this. I'll need to explain this in a round about way, though, so bear with me.
Have you ever been watching a movie, or reading a book and you began wondering how it was all going to turn out? You know what I'm talking about, right?
It's the moment when you realize that you have grown to love a character, or at the very least you care very deeply about that character and you begin wondering if something bad is going to happen to them, and your hopes for them will be dashed.
I have a confession to make.
I have a bad habit of looking at all of the spoiler alerts that get posted on the internet about movies I haven't seen.
I did it with the last Avengers movie, the latest Star Wars film, and yes... I have also on occasion gone to the end of a book to see how it all turns out before I've finished reading it.
I'm not exactly proud of this truth about myself, but there it is.
The fact of the matter is that most of us have a little bit of this impulse inside us, especially as it relates to things that really matter. We want to know that there's a good ending to our stories---all of the stories that we're involved in.
For example... we want to know that there's an ending to this current situation we find ourselves in. We long for it. I'm sure we'd be willing to trade a lot to know the end date for this lockdown... or a cure for the virus... or just anything that will get us back to living life in community again.
Or maybe it's something more personal. Maybe we want to know that our relationships have a happy ending. Or the financial hardship we are facing will end in a favorable resolution.
So we get it.
This is what the passage in the Lectionary reading today does for us. It reminds us that the story of Jesus, which is a story that matters for not only us, but also for all of humankind in every place and time... and all of Creation, for that matter... it reminds us that the story of Jesus ends in Resurrection.
As we slough through the hardships of Lent, the path to the Passion of Christ, to the Cross, and to the Tomb, we are reminded today that love wins. God gets what God wants. Jesus is raised from the dead, and we don't have to live in fear any more.
Jesus tells his followers that everything has been pointing to this moment. The story ends well. Death is defeated. Disease is defeated. Isolation is defeated. Injustice, evil, darkness and confusion are defeated.
So go ahead and read ahead today, check out the ending and then live in defiant hope that God is still in the resurrection business.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.