Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Green Mile and Resurrection Eve

               This time of year, we believers in Jesus think about what He has done for us.  We think about the incredible love and justice that were revealed at the Cross.  But this morning, I found myself wondering how Jesus felt.  I thought about how we see Jesus in our minds as a carefree, gentle teacher.  But Isaiah 53 calls Him a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  John Ortberg once said something that resonated with me.  He pointed out that prophets often seemed cranky.  Perhaps the reason for that, Ortberg said, was that they were like people with perfect pitch in a world full of people singly loudly off-key.  Imagine knowing how a song is supposed to be sung, and living everyday around men and women who sing it incorrectly, intentionally or out of ignorance.  It would be an excruciating existence, like a never-ending headache. The prophets had a connection to God unlike anything you and I experience; they knew how God felt about the violence, suffering, injustice, and spiritual rebellion in this world.  The sorts of sinfulness that you and I are easily de-sensitized to must have driven them crazy.  If that is true of the prophets--and I think it is--how much more true must it have been of Jesus?  After all, He didn’t have a special connection to God; He was God!  Never before had God possessed human frailty, including emotions that could be wounded, but now that was His reality. 
               It reminds me of a scene near the end of The Green Mile.  John Coffey, the Christ-figure of the story, who is falsely accused of a horrific crime and who has shown an ability to heal awful suffering by absorbing the pain into himself, is about to be executed.  His chief guard, Paul Edgecomb, knows John is innocent, and is afraid God will send him to Hell if he allows Coffey to die. 

John Coffey (The late, great Michael Clarke Duncan)

Paul Edgecomb: On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job?
John Coffey: You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin' and worryin', I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand?
Paul Edgecomb: Yes, John. I think I can.

               On this Resurrection Eve, I wonder if Jesus felt that way about His own death.  We know that He was full of sorrow and anxiety about taking on the sins of the world--and the wrath of God that came with it (Matt. 26:38).  We know that He was full of joy at the salvation His death would produce for us (Heb. 12:2).  But could it be that He also felt a sense of relief, that His time of suffering in this awful world was almost done?  This much we know: When He breathed His last breath, He said, “It is finished.”  Our Savior left nothing undone. Because He died and rose again, we can look forward to living in the New World He is creating, a world of perfect pitch, perfect harmony with God and each other.  And every day we follow Him in THIS world, we become more like Him, learning to see life as He does, transforming the world around us a little more. If you’re like Paul Edgecomb, and you can understand the weariness Jesus must have felt, remember His words: Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden…and I will give you rest. 

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