Saturday, March 31, 2007

On a Collision Course

His enemies have been plotting against him for three years. There have been attempts to arrest and assassinate. At times he has remained low key and away from heavily populated areas. But now he is heading south again to the capital city. Jerusalem, the heart of Jewish worship, is swelling with tens of thousands of pilgrims from throughout Palestine, a place one could easily blend into, if that was your plan. But he does not want to be anonymous, even though it would be safer.

There is talk about the recent event in Bethany: a resurrection of a man named Lazarus. A growing crowd streams in from Bethany and those now approaching Jerusalem, forming a massive parade of well-wishers as he reaches the gate at the corner of the Temple mount. This miracle is all the buzz. More and more people hear of it. There is excitement in the air.

He could slip into the city buried in the mass of humanity, but he chooses to ride in on a donkey, a symbol no pious Jew could miss. He is entering the Holy City according to the prophesy of Zechariah, a sign that he is the promised Messiah. Pilgrims wave palm branches, signs of victory for the coming king. They chant Hosanna from the psalm. The religious leaders are nervous now. What if this gets to Pilate? What if the authorities interpret this as a challenge to Caesar? They cannot let this go. He has crossed the line. He has gone too far.

As he looks down the street he knows what awaits him. The praises will fade into jeers eventually. The crowd that praises will be replaced with a crowd that condemns. Plots will thicken. He is a marked man for sure. One of his own will be courted to betray. There is no turning back now. He is on a collision course with evil and the explosion will come by week's end.

That collision, though, brought forth our salvation. He knew that it was the only course to take. The only reason it had not come earlier was that it was not yet the right time. Now the time had come. God's time. God's way. God's plan. Even though it looked as if the collision was just an unfortunate and unavoidable accident.

Evil and sin cannot be avoided. To hide from them is to simply to avoid what must be done. Yet many people today would rather excuse away evil and avoid the collision. Play nice. Be quiet. Don't make waves. Look the other way.

But this is not God's way. Sin and evil were to be hit head on. The resulting collision would bring about the death of His Son. There would be carnage and blood and pain. Many would flee in fear and disgust. Others would look sadly on the wreck and mourn what might have been. They would clear the wreckage and try to go on. Oh, why didn't he take the easier way? Why didn't he avoid this horrible accident?

Yet in the midst of this carnage one fatality is too often missed. A dark figure lays quivering in the debris. His name is Adversary, the Accuser, Prince of the Power of the Air, lord of the flies. The collision has left him mortally wounded. The death of one is the death of the other, but the latter will not recover. Only one will find life. Only one will come out victorious.

We raise palm branches again. The church is still on a collision course with evil. At every corner, every intersection of life we are colliding, and the carnage of wrecked families and damaged lives lies about like blood stains on the pavement. To any outsider it looks like another sad and unfortunate accident. And sometimes it is. But when the wreckage is cleared and the fatalities are body-bagged and removed, life is still there. Evil cannot prevail. That ancient collision in 30 AD has robbed it of its edge and it carries its own body bag under its arm. We are more than conquerors through Him who died and rose. The church lives.

It is easy to live in fear of these collisions. But such fear loses it's power when the first collision is remembered. We die daily to sin, but we rise daily to new life. We are killed all day long, but we also have crossed over from death unto life. The Adversary speeds through the intersections of our life trying to collide at every turn. But He cannot kill the life that is secure in Christ. We wave our palm branches in his face and shout: He lives!

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