You know how sad your own dog’s face can look sometimes. Think of that and then think of all the faces of those Talking Beasts – all those honest, humble, bewildered Birds, Bears, Badgers, Rabbits, Moles, and Mice – all far sadder than that. Every tail was down, every whisker drooped. It would have brokien your heart with very pity to see their faces.
-C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
I’ve experienced a lot of a-ha moments reading C.S. Lewis, and this paragraph qualifies as one of the most powerful of them all. Just before this, the creatures of Narnia have been falsely told – in effect – that there is no Aslan. Their Savior, their Hope, does not exist. In the moment I first experienced this paragraph, a deeply disturbing thought formed in my mind:
What if its not true?
What if Jesus just died? And – in reality, in history – nothing else happened? What if the Christian hope, from the very beginning, was nothing more than an idle fairy tale, made up by disciples who wanted to keep Jesus’ ideas alive? What if the real story ended on Holy Saturday?
The recent news about the alleged Jesus ossurary, though it is rather easily debunked – still begs the same question: even if there isn’t evidence of Jesus’ remains in this instance – what if his remains could be found? How would life change?
You can count me in with the creatures of Narnia. And I think I’m not the only one. A world without a risen Jesus is strange, cold, and cruel. Take the resurrection of Jesus out of the equation, and everything which ever made sense to me about the universe is hopelessly, eternally confused and pointless.
Yet, I’m convinced that – in a strange way – my doubting and questioning is itself a gift of God. It is not until I think about the way the darkness of existence would come crashing in on me that I can really appreciate what the resurrection of Jesus means.
It is more than a Sunday School story. It is more than an event by which God proves that a particular person was his Son. At the heart of this story lies a promise that Jesus’ path into new creation can be mine, can be yours and – indeed – can be the way of the entire universe.
So on Holy Saturday of 2007, as I contemplate what it meant for Jesus to be dead – truly dead – and as I wonder how everything would change if he were still dead, I again wait for the dawn of tomorrow and the promise of hope that it will bring.