By Teddy Allen
The beginning of Easter was when God wrote himself into the story of our world, to set the story straight.
Today’s thoughts are entirely those of three authors – Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Dorothy Sayers, a writer of detective fiction in the first part of last century. Most all these words are theirs. I’ll leave off quotation marks for the most part and paraphrase from Keller’s book, Encounters With Jesus, in hopes Keller’s explanation will cause you to consider, as Keller writes, “who Jesus is, how he loves you and how he came to put the world right. In the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, Jesus is raging against not only the death of his friend but also against our biggest enemy — evil and death itself — which entered the world because of sin, scripture says, not as part of God’s original design.
“Jesus wept,” John writes. “And the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him,’” a continuing part of John’s record of the reaction to the death of Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.
But maybe Jesus here is thinking too of his own death, coming very soon in this narrative, thinking of the judgment he was to bear and the price he was to pay to raise from the dead not only Lazarus, but each believer and follower.
In his essay The Seeing Eye, Lewis wrote that if there were a God, people could not relate to him as a neighbor or as someone who lived in the apartment above ours. This is why Khrushchev said in 1961, after the Russians put a man into orbit, that since they’d put a man into space and he didn’t see God, “we have proved there is no God.”
Instead, Lewis said our relationship to God is more like Shakespeare’s relationship to Hamlet: Hamlet can know about Shakespeare but only what Shakespeare writes about himself in the play. In the same way, we “only know about God if God has written something about himself into our life, into our world. And he has.”
And now to Sayers, who some of us have not heard of, and if you haven’t, you’re welcome because here’s the deal:
The main character of Sayers’ stories is Lord Peter Wimsey, a single detective. Eventually, a woman named Harriet Vane appears in the stories; she and Peter fall in love, marry, and solve mysteries together. Sayers had essentially looked into a story she’d created, saw the pain and loneliness of a man she’d created, fallen in love with him, and wrote herself into the story just to save him.
God has done “quite the same thing. God looked into our world – the world he made – and saw us destroying ourselves and the world by turning away from him. It filled his heart with pain. He loved us. He saw us struggling to extricate ourselves from the traps and misery we created for ourselves. And so, he wrote himself in. Jesus Christ, the God-man, born in a manger, born to die on a cross for us.”
The happy ending is what God did next: the resurrection of his only son. Easter.
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