One author/theologian has described the human plight in these words: “The Great Playwright has composed a drama and written a wonderful part especially for us to play; and like a spoiled and silly child, we have torn up the script and smirked our way through a self-serving but ultimately self-destructive plot of our own.”
Of course, this is a partial summary of the story told us in the Bible — the part about our “lostness” from God and our relentless efforts to write a better script for ourselves.
Having ceased to worship our Creator, we fashion idols for ourselves, laying hold of whatever seems virtuous or satisfying to our egos or our senses. We grant these idols our allegiance only to discover in time, they yield us no deep satisfaction, though they extract from us a great price.
Jesus addresses this “price” on the human soul when he says, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Like our Jewish neighbors, the Church of Jesus Christ looks forward to Passover each year. We learn of its abiding significance for God’s people throughout the Old Testament, and we follow Jesus in his three-year public ministry, going to Jerusalem each spring for its observance.
Indeed, it was that last Passover observance, culminating his three years of presenting himself to his fellow Jews as their long- awaited Messiah, which serves as the climax to the entire Old Testament story.
When Adam and Eve sought to write their own script, pursuing their own glory, in Genesis 3, they discovered the guilt and shame so familiar to us.
In time, God chose Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites or Jews, to be a blessing to the nations (that would include the world of Gentiles), a royal priesthood, a holy nation. (Genesis 12, 19)
The Passover event is rooted in the story of the Israelites’ rescue or deliverance from Egypt.
God delivered His people, the Jews, from the land of bondage in Egypt. He brought them to Himself at Mt. Sinai and purposed to live in their midst in the tabernacle and later, the temple, a Garden of Eden reset.
But alas, like Adam and Eve, the Israelites also sought to write their own script, violating the laws of God and breaking covenant with Him. They too, like Adam and Eve, found themselves in exile with their meeting place with God, the temple, destroyed by the Babylonians.
Though returning to Jerusalem under Cyrus the Persian, the temple did not witness the return of the glory of God in their midst, and their prophets pointed to His future return.
This is the backdrop to the coming of the Christ (Messiah) in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
At the last Passover with his disciples in Jerusalem, he spoke of himself as the substance of the observance as he proclaimed his body and blood to be given for the salvation of his people. The story of that last Passover with Jesus and his disciples led to his going to the cross.
There on the cross, Jesus put an end to the guilt, shame and exile of his peoples’ long story, taking the sin and guilt of the world upon himself. In the language of bleeding love, Jesus Christ offered himself up to His father to put an end to the enslavement of people to the power of their own idolatrous hearts.
When he uttered the words from the cross, “It is finished,” they revealed an end to sin and its power and the threshold to a whole new reality — the restoration of sinners to God’s original script. (More on this later.)
Idols, sin and death be damned. Christ is victor!