Day 42: Two Stories
Have you ever been out with some friends, at a place you all very comfortable, and yet you have this feeling that the conversation you are involved in, is it really about something else? Or maybe you didn’t have that feeling at all, but it became abundantly clear after the whole mood of the evening shifted. Now envision this is happening with your best friend. That is John’s situation. How close are John and Jesus? Just a few hours earlier, Jesus confided in John who would betray him. Now, in the garden, this BFF is bewildered.
When you find yourself in this kind of a situation, what do you do? Do you check out? Do you try and figure out what is going on? Do you stay close to the person you trust, your friend?
I tend to either dis-engage or analyze. Consider the following analysis:
Jesus has been foreshadowing for some time what would happen. Why didn’t he warn them? Maybe, this night, Jesus is not laying it out in “black and white” because he wants to protect his disciples. Now before you say (rather defiantly), “I would rather know!” consider Peter.
Peter did know. He knew part of the story. He proclaimed, “I will never deny you”, only to hear the cock crow to announce his cowardice. Never was crowing so crushing.
I could go on with my analysis, standing outside of the story, peering in. But I would miss the deeper opportunity.
The reality is that there are two stories playing out simultaneously – and we can only see one.
We see the human story.
A beloved rabbi, a special teacher, a friend, being arrested. We see the reaction: a sword. Imagine if John, Peter, and the others had known what was coming. Would they have further resisted, and died? Resistance is not the plan of the second story.
The second story...
This is the story of mortality versus immortality; heaven versus hell; evil versus good. Don’t misunderstand. This second story is not a story of two equal and opposite forces vying for the world. No, God has been, and always will be, in ultimate control. No, this second story is the story of God redeeming the world. It is the story of God fulfilling the Law, His Law, to redeem the souls of men and women. It is the story of God showing us how much he loves us.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Jn. 6:51
It is a story that you must sit in the midst of, or you’ll miss it. John sat in it—for days. This was Day One; full of fear and confusion and betrayal and violence—and blood.
In Jesus’ prayer, we see the two stories, the two worlds, merged into Jesus’ heart.
Can we stay in this “heart of Jesus” position as we enter his final hours? God’s Word is inviting us to live in the second story.
As the first story races along, it goes beyond the disciples. It is a story that is constantly intersecting with and colliding with the human world—of people, and organized religion, and the state.
If you live in the “human-only” story, the collision yields all the questions that we hear in our own day. The religions want to create their own rules—not submit to Jesus. The world, the state, is interested in power—who is the real king. Finally, in the midst of the collision, the idea that there is such a thing as truth becomes a casualty.
Yet, with Jesus, the Second Story always surfaces. We come face to face with it in verse 37.
…for this purpose I was born…for this purpose I have come into the world…to bear witness to the truth…verse 37
It is a story of Truth—Jesus has said He is the truth. It is a story of Life conquering death—Jesus has come to bring life, indeed to be life.
John, as he wrote this Gospel knew this truth. Yet on that first Day One, he lived it. He immersed himself in it.
Perhaps, you might sit and re-read chapter 18, immersing yourself in Jesus’ life.