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The World Turned Upside Down

            For a long time I have been thinking that we Christians have it wrong about God.  We tend to believe that God has revealed truths to us that we pretty much fully grasp (He is the creator, Christ is our savior) and others that we don’t, at least for now (the Trinity and heaven). 

            Yesterday, Maundy Thursday, I read John’s account of Jesus’ last night with his disciples. The apostle writes that with the full knowledge that the Father had given all things to him and that he had come from God and was going to God, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, the most humble of servant tasks. 

            Jesus’ action is the exact opposite of how we think.  Clearly, if we knew that we had been given all things by God, had come from God and were going to him, we would not be washing peoples’ feet.  We would be looking for someone to wash ours.

            Now, I can hear some of you saying, “I get this.  Jesus said that the greatest of all is the servant of all.”  Yes, we get it, but I wonder how much.  It sounds a little too easy to me, and I think it is.

            Holy Week, when we reflect on and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, should remind us that we poor humans are over our heads in divine matters.  What are we celebrating this week?  An innocent life taken by a God who forbade murder.  A death that gives life.  Love that is poured out in judgment.  A curse that is a blessing.  Power revealed in weakness.

            I do think we understand in part, as Paul writes in I Corinthians 13:12, but it’s not that we have this little part that we can hold on to as fully grasped, and therefore is maybe under our intellectual control (We can be that bad, or at least I can.).  Rather, that little part that we know is really an opening into a wonderful world that is far beyond our ability to grasp. 

            Contemplating the grandeur of God’s creative power, Job exclaimed, “These are but the outskirts of his ways; and how small a whisper do we hear of him!  But the thunder of his power who can understand?”  If Job thought that of the creation, what should we think when we contemplate a man’s death that darkens the sun and causes the earth to quake?  Can we understand the thunder of the power of the cross?

            We are told by the Church Fathers that the apostle Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same way as his Lord.  In the wild flights of my imagination, I wonder whether what his persecutors saw as a grimace of agony was really a smile as Peter saw the world aright—upside down from the cross.

3 thoughts on “The World Turned Upside Down

  1. My pastor last Sunday put it well: Holy week is the focal point of human history. All the grand episodes of human history, both good and bad, pale in comparison to it.

  2. We’re over our heads in divine matters, and at the same time we thank God for our “satisfied faith” (Boice) which comes from Him. In my class this Sunday I’ll be leading a discussion on some of the closing words from our Lord right after the resurrection: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

    1. Thanks, Jerry. One of the paradoxes to me is that part of that satisfaction of faith is that we have begun to experience the eternal God who is far beyond all that we can think or do.

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