Monday, March 21, 2011

Lent - In Silence

contributed by Yeon Joo

Two years ago, the producers at Radiolab posted a sermon Robert Krulwich gave at a synagogue ( In it, Robert wrestles with the twisted love story between Abraham and God. God commands his loving disciple Abraham to kill his son. Yes, Isaac is spared. But I have with me the haunting, terrifying image of a boy tied to a rock and his father standing over him with a knife, ready to kill.

This makes me think of Jesus and God. Many years later, God kills his only son. Yes, Jesus offers himself. Yes, ultimately we, his creation, condemned Jesus to the cross. But it is God's will that ultimately decided that Jesus must be killed. Jesus begged his Father in the garden to take away what was around the corner. But God's will was done - that his son suffer and die.

My heretical confession is this - I do not approve any of this.

Matthew 6:26 says "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" This passage is often used to comfort but during lent it has its opposite intent on me.

Look at Jesus, God's only son. God's will for him was to suffer and die. Isn't Jesus much more valuable to God than me? So what terrible plans does he have for me?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your honest reflections and questions, Yeon Joo. I can sense that you're feeling these things and living your questions very deeply. My first question to you is, Are there circumstances in your life or in the lives of those around you that are leading you to doubt God's good purposes? If so, let's talk about those things -- *not* here, but in actual conversation when it suits.

    In response to the rest...

    The Abraham/Isaac story can certainly conjure up some horrific images in our minds. Sometimes the lengths to which God goes to test our faith can seem outlandish; even "terrifying". At the same time, however, the knife raised to kill is not the end of the story, as you yourself acknowledged. The end of the story is God's angel shouting, 'Abraham! Don't lay a hand on the boy!' and God providing a ram to be used as the necessary sacrifice.

    As with Isaac, so with Jesus. You are right that God's will was for his Son to suffer and die. You are also spot-on when you say that our sin was the thing that condemned him to death. But God's ultimate will for his beloved Son included much more than the suffering and death part. It included Jesus being raised up again to new life. The cross, and even the tomb, were not the end of the story for Jesus.

    Might God call you and I to suffer significantly in this life? Quite possibly. But, if we believe what scripture teaches about these things, then we know that death is not the end for us, either. God's love for the whole of creation is shown in the fact that his plan for Jesus, and indeed for all of us, is resurrection. Life FROM death. Restoration. The renewal of all things.

    Does this help at all? Anything you want to say in response? Dialogue on these things is good.