Fear of the Sting
On our way home from church this Sunday, Isaac said, “Mama, is it true that we’ll come back from the dead after we die?” And I responded with a proud, “Yes, sir!”
Seth’s head turned to me, “You said that so definitively, and the truth is that we never die. We’ll be given new bodies, and there’ll be a new earth.”
I wonder how many gaps we’ve filled in. What pictures have I used in my blind spots? What’s true about the resurrection? About where we go when we die?
That night Jude, having heard only part of the conversation, wept in the bed. He wrung his hands round and round, and tears poured out.
“I don’t want to die! I don’t want to die!”
I covered him with a big hug, and we prayed. I said, “You won’t die, Jude. You won’t. Only our weak bodies. That’s why Jesus came – so we won’t be afraid of death.”
But Jude is still afraid. Unbelief is a target for the sting.
It’s Holy Thursday, the day Jesus sat along His dearest ones to eat and prepare. Before that, He washed their nasty feet. If I had been there and had seen him take off His outer garment and intimately bow to the floor to touch my filth, I think I would have acted much more violently than Peter did, flailing and denying
a cleansing so intimate, the water so dirty.
How could they have understood before the rooster crowed, all the ways they would deny Him? How could they have seen the dogs of the spirit world snarling at His feet? They couldn’t have known He would give up His breath and roar like a star into Hell? How could He explain to them the white stallion that picked Him up, His real body back, how He’d tear out the hooks between our flesh and sin?
I don’t really know how it happened. I wish I could say.
But I do know that when He returned to them, they witnessed the firelight of God. They would have lined up for days to lay their dirt out to be cleaned. Wide out in the open, the Christian Church was born in the God-blood of Jesus, born into Might, Power, Servant-Kinghood.
He hugged them when He came back, kept the wounds for proof. He opened their eyes, and they saw how intimately He x-rays us. He knows the darkest dark, the greatest sting of death.
On that first Holy Thursday He said, “You call me teacher and LORD; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did for you (John 13:13-15).”
Today we know so much more than the disciples knew.
Today I’m going to enjoy the life I have in this skin. I’ll take Jude’s hands, stop the wringing. I’ll walk headlong into my own death, like Jesus did, and I won’t be afraid. Today is intimate, secret places unfurling, the feet in constant water, and the holy hands reaching in.
Consider what it means to have Christ-Esteem, that the breath we breathe doesn’t define our being.