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The Puzzle of Salvation

April 4, 2020

“I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6

Today marks the twentieth day of quarantine in our household. This morning’s activities include building 3D puzzles, a box of which we received in the mail yesterday from the kids’ grandparents. Torsten built la Tour Eiffel. Ooh la la, très bien! C’est magnifique!

On this day before Holy Week, I am pondering a puzzle, too. Tomorrow’s Old Testament reading comes from the third of the Songs of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. It speaks of the Lord’s Servant who, in obedience to God, walks willingly into suffering and shame.

As Christians we understand this Servant as one who prefigures the Christ. The story through which we walk this week is one that starts with high hopes and hosannas but quickly descends into the depths of detail and betrayal, pain and torture, suffering and death. Jesus knows full well that this is the cup his Father would have him drink. Obedient to the end, Jesus endures it all for us.

While we would concoct theologies of glory, only a theology of the cross will do. The puzzle at hand is the mystery of salvation, the bizarre grace by which God is revealed not in power and glory but in self-emptying, sacrificial love. It is this, and only this, that saves us from sin and death. To save us from sin and death, the sinless One dies. I cannot fathom why God would do this for us. I can’t puzzle it out. All I can do is look upon at the cross in wonder, love, and praise.

The story of Holy Week is not a puzzle to solve. It is a mystery that embraces us, a new breath moving us from death to life. It is the truth we need for this time of pandemic. Suffering and death are on the increase. We must do better at providing what our doctors and nurses need to care for people. We must do better at flattening the curve. While we do so, we also remember that God is hiding in plain sight in the midst of suffering and death, reminding us that they do not get the last word. Jesus made sure of that on lonely Golgotha long ago. Thanks be to God.

Alright, back to the 3D puzzles!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

Triune God, your grace is a mystery but your love is on full display in the cross of Jesus Christ. Help us to live in the mystery, knowing that you are not a puzzle to solve but a God to embrace – a God who embraces us. Be present in our suffering today, bringing hope and health to all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

From → COVID-19

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