[Each day of Holy Week, I am going to publish a communion meditation that I wrote and delivered, while serving as an Elder, over the past seven years where I worship at Northwood Christian Church, in Springfield, Oregon.]
An Exercise in Futility
As Jesus moved into the third year of his ministry he talked more about his being put to death and rising again. We can forgive the people of Judea if they were more than a bit skeptical about this claim. They were intimately acquainted with death. The average lifespan at that time was less than fifty years. Dr Jon Berquist, a biblical scholar in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has stated that half the women giving birth died during delivery. The infant mortality rate in some years exceeded 50%. Add disease, war and malnutrition and you can see that death was a constant presence and threat. And as for Jesus’ claim to rise and live after dying? It was almost laughable, after all dead was dead was dead. Everybody knew that.
Yet. Yet, that is what Jesus kept saying would happen to him. As you read the accounts in all four of the Gospels, even the skeptics begin to wonder. There was something about Jesus, in the way he taught, in the way he seemed to have this unfathomable connection to God. When they executed Jesus on the cross, the skeptics had become so unnerved by his claim to rise on the third day that they posted guards at his tomb.
It was an exercise in futility. Half a generation later, the Apostle Paul would write to the church at Corinth: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is shown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body…it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”(I Cor 15:42, 44). That is our hope, our belief, and what brings us to this table today. Here we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection, his body broken for us, his blood shed for us.
June 26, 2005