It’s Easter weekend so today I get to write about God. Which I can, of course do any time without apology, but this weekend in particular I get a free pass.
I have always been enamoured by stories, ever since I was a little girl. I would surround myself with books and movies and, write tales on A4 pieces of paper and staple them together. My games were convoluted intricacies with plot lines, and pivotal characters, and outfit descriptions. Occasionally I would write them out into stories after playing, letting the words pour out in a rush of pre-adolescent enthusiasm.
Stories have always captivated me.
At church, I was known as a bit of a bible hero in Sunday School, because I knew all the stories. All of them. From David and Goliath, to Jonah and the whale, and Ruth, Naomi and Boaz. The stories enthralled me.
I remember the day the bible became more than a story to me; the day I saw the absolute intricacy of its detail.
There’s a story, in the bible, about kind David and his son Absalom. (This is the same David that took down Goliath with the little pebble.)
His son was staging a revolt; he was claiming the kingdom.
He had gathered forces, covertly gained the favour of the people, and captured the palace. David had fled and now Absalom was on the prowl, hunting him down like a wild animal.
In the course of the hunt, Absalom was riding his horse through a forest, and his long hair got caught in a branch; the horse ran off, leaving him hanging in the air, vulnerable to David’s men. Who came along, and plunged three spears into him. And then threw his dead body in a hole and covered it with rocks.
Back in a safe city, David is sitting on the city wall waiting for news. He was in a pickle really; if Absalom was killed, he would lose his son. If Absalom prevailed, he would lose his life.
Neither a great option.
Ultimately a messenger brings him what he calls the ‘happy news’, and David breaks down in tears crying ‘my son, my son. Oh Absalom my son. If only I had died instead of you.’
He is condemned by the leaders of his army who have risked life and limb to save his life, but in that moment, he is overcome with grief. His fathers heart is broken.
This story, changed my life.
I read it, and read it, and read it again and this is what I saw.
A broken, disobedient, arrogant son who was only looking out for himself.
Killed by hanging in a tree, with three bits of iron shoved into him.
Thrown in the ground, covered by rocks.
And a father, seated on high, waiting for news.
Contrast this with another son, perfect, innocent, only looking for the good of others.
Killed by hanging on a cross, three bits of iron shoved into him.
Thrown in a tomb, covered by a rock.
The one who had been on high, and was the news.
And in that I saw the truth:
God was not content to be like David. To lament the death of his children, and wish that he had taken their place.
That would never do.
So He entered the story himself. He sent His son, a man without blemish, to take the brokenness and the sin and curse of death upon himself.
He became the one who would own the consequences; the one who would die.
The one whose death, was in fact, actual happy news.
The main difference in the stories lies in only one fact; Absalom’s death was accidental, whereas Jesus’ was intentional. His whole purpose was to die.
Born to die, he entered the story he had written, the story that was always all about Him, and delivered the most incredible turning point, any story ever has had. The climax of the story rests on this point. This moment.
This is the ultimate story.
And what happens next, is up to you.