Incongruent

Colossians 1:17  He himself existed before anything else did, and he holds all things together.

Probably like you, I look outside and constantly remark about how unusual it is that flowers and trees are blooming, the birds are twittering, the sun is shining, while we’re all “sheltering in place.”  It looks like an ordinary spring and yet, it isn’t.  The word “incongruent” has come to mind many times.  It means out of place, incompatible, not fitting together.  I can’t adequately describe how absolutely incongruent the two situations are. The beauty of spring and the ravages of COVID-19 don’t seem suitable together, and yet here we are.

Jesus' disciples must have felt the same way on that first ‘Good Friday,’  named such by combining two seemingly incompatible ideas.  Reading Matthew chapter 27, I’m struck by how ill-fitting all of the events seem.  How does a rabbi who feeds the hungry, encourages the down cast, heals the sick, pardons the guilty - end up nailed on a cross?  It’s completely unsuitable to my 21st century sensibilities that executioners were gambling for Jesus’ clothes before he’s even dead.  And then there was the mockery.  It wasn’t enough to let a man die quietly in his misery.  He had to become the butt of bad jokes.  This is all shocking and inappropriate if you believe the story of a man in history.  If you believe that man, Jesus, was and is the son of God, it all becomes even more out of place.

It is incongruous that Jesus, who will later promise to always be present with his followers, himself feels God’s absence.  It doesn’t make sense that the glorious son of God dies ingloriously, while those long dead rise from their graves.  Finally, a body, dirtied with blood and bruises, is wrapped in a clean linen cloth and by evening, an old soul is placed in a new tomb. All hopes for the conquering Messiah, the Lion of Judah, gone, and what the disciples got instead was the sacrificial Lamb of God. Could the events have been more out of place, out of step, not seeming to fit together?

However, in the middle of  these inconsistencies between expectations and reality, hopes and actual results, soaring dreams and seemingly broken promises - amongst all the incongruence, God was still sovereign.  In a way that we still struggle to understand, things were still proceeding as they should.  The confusing circumstances around those first followers in no way indicated that God had lost control or had abandoned them. 

It was quite the opposite. 

Paul tells us in the book of Colossians that Jesus holds all things together. Somehow, God took what appeared so inconsistent, and by Sunday began to reveal through Jesus how it would all make sense.  Just as God was in the middle of all the upheaval on that first Passion Week, so he is present during this one.  So, when you, like me, look out on this Good Friday, let’s remind ourselves that God and his risen son Jesus are here, in the middle of all the incongruence. 

Read: Matthew, Chapter 27

 

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