Easter is over, but a small phrase of scripture lingers on in my head. I had never given much thought to it in the past, but this time as I heard it read from the stage, it awakened a whole slew of vivid images in my mind's eye. "He (Peter) saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself." (John 20:6-7). This one obscure sentence made the resurrection real to me. I saw it clearly for the first time. The instant when life flooded back in...not so much even flooded, but clicked on light a light switch. He had been dead for three days. His body was cold, his skin grey, his blood sitting dormant in his veins; but miraculously, in an instant, He came back from death. His blood flowed freely, breath filled his lungs, his nerves became aware of the cold, stone slab that He was laying on. His face felt the linen cloth that the women lovingly laid over his head. It reminds me of the opening scene of the T.V. series "Lost" when Jack's eyes open for the first time. Lying in an unfamiliar forest his eyes dart around as he becomes aware of his surroundings. For three days Jesus had been unaware...the last time he was conscious of anything, he was on the cross dying in agony; dirty, bloody, noisy, painful, bones out of place, screaming, wailing, cursing, spitting, dispair, defeat. Now, He awakes sharply...this time alone, in a cold, dark, quiet tomb. What were His first thoughts? Did He lie there under the cloth smirking? Did He chuckle to himself? I don't really think he was surprised, like "Oh, it worked!". From the way he folded his grave clothes, it seemed to be a careful, calm, and deliberate moment. He was in total control. He had done something that was never supposed to be done. Death could not keep it's greedy grip on Him, even if it wanted to. Jesus came back from the dead; Victorious. He not only rolled away the stone that closed the tomb, but he kicked a hole in the entire closed system of sin and death. He had made a new way. He had conquered the unconquerable. He had defeated the enemy. And so, as a victorious King, in a final act of victory, He slowly and calmly rose to His feet, folded His grave clothes, and laid them down...for the last time.
Good art sticks in your mind like tar sticks to your feet at the beach. "127 Hours" is good art. After watching it with my wife on Thursday night I just can't stop thinking about it. It was so raw, and real, and visceral. It truly captured the intensity of a young man's dire situation. If you don't know the movie, an avid outdoorsman gets his arm lodged between a rock and a hard place (literally) in the barren wilderness of Utah. He is stuck in the middle of the desert alone and with very limited water and food supply. The movie follows the 127 hours of his entrapment as he slowly becomes more bitingly aware of the desperation of his situation. He soon realizes that there are only two options for him: Death or the amputation of his arm. His very life hinges on a normally unthinkable act. How can anyone cut off their own arm? As he ponders the alternative, death, cutting off his own arm is the only viable option, though horrendous as it may be. In a horribly gruesome scene, this young man purposefully breaks both bones in his forearm and then proceeds to cut through his own flesh with a small, dull, rusty leatherman. It is shocking, excruciating and almost unbearable as he slowly and painfully cuts through his own skin, muscle, cartilage and nerves. After a few moments of horror he eventually frees himself from the very rock that was determined to take his life. As he stands back from his place of entrapment, staring at his own severed appendage, he realizes that he is free! His life has been saved! A moment of unfathomable amputation has led to the saving of his life.
As I re-run this movie in my head over and over, I can't help but think of the words of Jesus: "