An Easter reflection for our local paper, The Border Watch.
There are times when you revisit something from the past that reminds you of the changing nature of your own life.
Go back to the place where you first went to school; it’s likely you’ll think it’s so much smaller than you remember it. School hasn’t shrunk, but you’re a lot bigger than you were in first grade.
Along the same line, that teacher who seemed so old when you were in school was probably in their early to mid twenties. It’s always disconcerting to realise that you’ve had more birthdays than those people that you used to think were so old when you were a child.
Year after year I revisit the familiar narrative that is the Easter story. Four perspectives unify into multifaceted account of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The story remains the same, but each year different details seem to come to catch my attention. The details aren’t new; they’ve always been there. But they remind me that I’m changing as I pass through life’s seasons.
This year the part of the Easter story that grabs my attention is Jesus’ prayer ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’.
It seems our culture is more committed to justice and accountability, but less able to forgive. Judgment is quick, but the pathway to restored relationship seems absent. There is a readiness to condemn character with a harshness that does not suggest a pathway forward.
Difference becomes division.
Though he spoke about forgiveness, Jesus does not say ‘Father, I forgive them’. His anguished prayer is motivated by personal forgiveness, but asks for something more. In asking for God to forgive those who had put him to death Jesus acknowledges that our individual failings are part of a bigger picture.
The problem is in each of us.
In a culture that cultivates and demands a sense of outrage, we would do well to understand that outrage is a sign that something needs to be done, but it’s no solution in itself. The solution is bound up in recognising the same human weakness in ourselves that is shown in the failings of others. It should draw us together as human, not drive us apart. Jesus understands that weakness all too well.
His prayer also indicated Jesus’ belief, even as he was dying, that rejection of him was also rejection of God. He alone had no failings of his own to confess, so he confessed the failings of the rest of us on our behalf. The Easter message of new life is essentially the new beginning that is experienced when God forgives those who acknowledge their own failings in sorrow to him.
If you have the opportunity to hear the Easter story again this weekend, please take the time. Even if you think you know it all, you’ve changed and grown since the last time you heard it. Let it speak to you anew and reveal fresh understanding of yourself, others, and God.