2/3/2021 (one day after Groundhog’s Day)
One of our favorite movies is “Groundhog Day,” so you can imagine how excited we are to write this letter to you after having celebrated The Marvelous Marmota Monax Jubilee just yesterday! We are also big fans of Stephen King, and we just finished reading “The Green Mile” a few weeks ago. And we heartily endorse “Back to the Future” as well.
Ever since our first correspondence to you we have been time-traveling (via our imagination) back and forth from 2021 to the time of Jesus’ arrest, trial, torture, and execution. Most recently we imaginatively inhabited the 3 hour period of time when the sun’s light failed, and creation donned funeral attire. The earth offered her inhabitants the only fitting response to the slaughter of God’s Son, the response of darkness and quaking. The sacrificial power of this death was manifestly apparent as tombs sprung open, and many bodies of the saints were raised – and these risen saints ambled into Jerusalem to bear witness to the accomplishment of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
However, the darkness, quaking, and risen saints went largely unnoticed by the temple workers that day, because they were experiencing something infinitely more ominous. At some point between Noon and 3:00 p.m. the thick, impenetrable, fabric of the curtain – serving as a barrier between man and the holiest of holies – all of sudden ripped straight down the middle. Stories of Sinai, Mt. Carmel, and Uzzah’s sudden death flooded the imaginations of the people in the temple that day. And yet, against all odds, not only did the people survive the torn curtain, they received an invitation to approach the holiest of holies with the boldness of a baby being beckon to his mother to be nursed, and carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees (see Isaiah 66:12-13)!
Perhaps the most pressing question for people (both now and then) is this, “Who will receive God’s radical, scandalous, invitation of peace? Who will be so bold as to enter an infinitely familial relationship with the only true and living God? (see John 17:11, 22).” …As the corpse of Jesus hung on the cross, one of the supervising executioners stood starring at the body. And in that moment the Holy Spirit put irrevocable pressure on this soldier’s soul to receive the gift of God’s peace. This centurion, along with a convicted criminal – whose crucified corpse hangs next to Jesus – received the gift of peace with God! This is the same God whose son the centurion just helped to crucify; and this is the same God whom the centurion has historically hated (see Romans 1:30). But in this moment, the Holy Spirit supernaturally pressures the centurion to receive, and rest in, the peace of God in Christ alone.
The next scene to consider involves a member of the Jewish Supreme Court risking his reputation, and the welfare of his family, by asking the Governor of Judea for Jesus’ body so that he may give the King of kings an honorable burial. Considering the negative pressure Peter experienced in the courtyard of Caiaphas only the night before, it is shocking to see this venerable member of the Sanhedrin so publicly esteeming the man his colleagues worked so fervently to crucify! This guy is compelled by the positive presence and pressure of the 3rd Person in the Godhead (the Holy Spirit). Like Paul, this guy would say, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Blake’s household.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.