There is a good reason why we shush story spoilers. We love the tension of a good plotline; we eagerly wait for the unexpected twist and the surprise ending. Just when we think Cinderella has had her one night of glamour and now it’s back to scrubbing the pots and pans for the rest of her life, the prince discovers the glass slipper, which eventually brings him to Cinderella and their happily ever after.
It’s, therefore, a problem when we’ve heard a story over and over and over. For example, the Easter story. We know it’s every twist, turn, and punch line. Jesus is betrayed, thirty pieces of silver by one with whom they had sweated as they worked the dust of Palestinian roads trips together. A friend close enough to have called dibs on the last piece of bread over dinner betrays him. He is crucified, dies, is buried and rises on the third day. There … no surprises; everyone knows it.
One year when our girls were younger, we read the story of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth together. In small bits, we followed Jesus in the garden at night pleading for another way, being betrayed, being shuttled from one court to another, crowds baying for his blood, friends shrinking away and declaring they do not know him from Adam. Finally, our girl#2, exasperated by all the back and forth, burst out, “Why are they doing this to him? He has done nothing wrong!”
And there it was! An unexpected gift, restoration of wonder to my jaded heart that has heard this story over and over for decades. It was a precious moment when we could all feel the story. We had a chance to explain that her question was indeed the answer to why Jesus’ life and death was so important to us. He had done nothing wrong; he was innocent, he did not deserve to die!
Maybe this Easter, you can slow down a little…maybe read the story with a child or someone who has never read it before…and maybe in there, one of the twists and turns will stand out and make the story alive for you. It might be the mobs baying for his blood …crucify him! It might be the night of anguish, Jesus pleading with the Father, asking if there was another way as his friends snored away. Maybe it will be the final surrender – not my will but yours or even Pilate’s washing off his hands as he handed Jesus over to die.
It might also be like it happened for me that Easter years ago, the powerful reminder that Jesus was without sin. The twist in the plot and the wonder of the story is that the righteous judge leaves the bench and comes to my side (I, the guilty one) and takes the fall for me – and you – if you would!
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