Taking a Holy Week break from the Stones of Remembrance.
John 2:18-22 The Jewish leaders then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” [Chasing the merchants out of the temple]. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jewish leaders then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he spoke of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the Scriptures and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Like me, you probably watched in horror yesterday as flames engulfed the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. What a tragic, dramatic, incomprehensible introduction to Holy Week.
The ashes of Notre Dame Cathedral heartrendingly illustrate for us John’s record of Jesus’ words comparing his own body to the temple in Jerusalem. How ludicrous to imagine rebuilding the Cathedral in three days! Jesus’ boldness in comparing his body to Herod’s temple tells us that his resurrection is just as impossible.
His accusers later used their own version of these words to condemn Jesus before the Jewish high council and to mock him on the cross (Matthew 26:60-61, 27:40). They had no idea Who they were mocking; no understanding that the fullness of God actually indwelt this broken, beaten body they had destroyed. That death could not hold the Author of Life. That there was at work a deeper magic from before the dawn of time, to borrow from C. S. Lewis.
All four of the Gospel writers slow down the narrative when relating Jesus’s last days, and that is exactly what we are called to this week: to slow down our own frenetic lives to walk with Jesus to the cross, through the emptiness of Saturday, and then to allow the glory of Easter morning to astonish us once more. It occurs to me today that I did exactly the same thing in Karis, All I See Is Grace, paying extra attention to the details of Karis’s last days with us. And I can well imagine that for everyone who visited or worked in the Notre Dame Cathedral last week, that privilege has taken on entirely new dimensions. I can imagine each one thinking and saying, “I was there . . . I didn’t know . . . !”
This week is the time we slow down long enough to remember. To walk with Jesus. To open ourselves to new comprehension of what it all means. To identify with those who love him, around the world and through all time. To say with Karis, “All I see is grace.”