Warning: You are about to jump into the middle of crude theological musings of an amateur. Read on at your own risk.
I had intended to post about Good Friday, and again about Resurrection. Well….I suppose I’m a little late for that. In an attempt to remain at least slightly current, here are snapshots of some musings on Holy Week.
Maundy Thursday – I was powerfully reminded this week of a time when, as a teenager, I met with 3 other boys for Bible study with Joe Coughlin, a local pastor. In the middle of one session, he stood up and walked out of the room with short instructions for us to remove our shoes and socks. We all looked at each other wondering if he was serious. He walked back in with a towel and basin, and reminded us agin to take off our shoes. He then knelt down and proceeded to wash our feet. We were…I’m not sure quite how to describe our feelings. Horrified seems too strong, but it just seemed so wrong for Him to be doing something so humbling. Pastor Joe was one of the most powerful mentors of my youth and we all had the greatest respect for him. I can easily identify with the response of the disciples when Jesus did the same for them. It was a powerful lesson that I have never forgotten.
You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I
am. If I then, the Lord and the teacher, washed your feet, you also
ought to wash one another's feet. For I gave you an example that you also
should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not
greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent
him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Good Friday – I have never really understood the concept of substitutionary atonement. Actually, I grasp the concept. I have never really understood the mechanics. How is it exactly that someone else can pay for my sin. If I commit murder, how is it that someone can serve my prison sentence, or even be executed in my place? There is no such thing as substitution in any law that I’m familiar with – except for that whole Kingdom of God thing. In theology classes, I was told that it’s possible because a) Jesus is perfect and b) Jesus is infinite by nature of his divinity. This never really seemed to me to solve the problem. How does Jesus’ suffering and death justify me?
The closest I’ve been able to come to getting this is the Deep Magic and the Deeper Magic referred by Aslan in Narnia. I know that Narnia is not a theological treatise or a book of biblical exposition. And, it doesn’t really EXPLAIN it, so much as it puts a label on it. Interesting label too. Magic. Hmmmm.
There is that about the atonement that is magical. The blood. The sacrifice. The words of power. I guess though, when YAHWEH sets it up, that’s how it is. I don’t really have to understand something to believe in it or even take advantage of it. I could list a whole bunch of stuff the inner workings of which I remain largely ignorant (automobiles, televisions, refrigerators) but that doesn’t stop me from pressing the button and watching the pretty pictures.
So I believe in the atoning work of Christ. Absolutely. It just remains a mystery. My overwhelming thoughts and emotions this week were simply a deep sense of gratefulness for it. Deep gratefulness. I need it.
Enough for now. I’ll rant on the Resurrection in a few days.