Meditations on “God of Transformation: 20: Beyond us?
Jn 20:15 Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
There are things that are just beyond the human intellect to understand. I have to say I cannot grasp the meaning of “fifty million light years” or ‘fifty million galaxies”! Those are the easy ones not to understand; shear size – or it may be smallness seems beyond our comprehension. It’s one of the reasons that I am slightly sceptical about scientists trying to work a second before the ‘big bang’ when they say there is absolutely nothing before it. When you have absolutely nothing – really nothing, no energy, nothing – how can something come from nothing? I just about coped with yesterday’s meditation about Lazarus coming back from the dead. I’ve seen films where people are ‘kick-started’ back into life, so I just about comprehend God kick-starting Lazarus back to life – bit it is not something I would expect in normal life to happen. And when the bringer of life himself appears to be very human and allow himself to be executed, I think I find some sympathy with Mary when in the Easter Sunday morning she encounters to risen Jesus but doesn’t realise who it is.
I think we take some of the things in the Bible for granted, the things we’ve read again and again and we’ll have heard this account every Easter. How, people ask, could Mary not have recognised Jesus? Was there something about him that looked different, was he wearing a hood so his face was partly hidden, or was the shear unlikeliness of it all the thing that made her confused? I had an experience a few years back that gave me a little understanding. My wife had arranged a special time away for us for a special birthday (I don’t do special birthdays but she does, so….) and had kept as a surprise where we were going. I had not a clue. We eventually pulled up outside a large house somewhere about a hundred miles north of where we live and she climbed out of the car muttering something about needing to find a key. Without thinking about it much I assumed it was an office where you collected a key for a holiday chalet nearby, or something like that. She went through the front door and I followed her into a large hall. There seemed to be no one around so she opened one of the doors, peered in and then shut it again and went to do the same to the next door and so I joined in the search for ‘the office’ and opened a door at the end. There were people in there and so I shut the door thinking, “Oh there are other people here already, I’d better tell her,” but as I shut the door – and I did actually shut it – I suddenly realised that I knew those people; they were the rest of my family, my grown up kids and their partners and our grandchildren. For a second I had looked at them and not recognised them – simply because I was not expecting them. In fact they were all there together for we were going to stay in the massive house for the week together; a brilliant surprise, but a surprise it was!
I can only suggest that there are some things that in our mind are impossible so that when we are faced with the impossible, it doesn’t register with us. Maybe, just maybe, that was how it was with Mary and if we’d been there it would have been the same with us. Now I’ve taken all this time to say all this because I think when we come to Jesus’ resurrection we come to the peak of God’s transforming power and yesterday and today we arrive at an area that may be familiar in words but in reality and our own personal lives, still hits as an impossibility – because we simply cannot understand how it can be.
Now if we know our Bibles we know that the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost, after speaking about Jesus’ death, went on, “But God raised him from the dead,” (Acts 2:24) and happily accept that as if that makes any more sense. Don’t hear me wrong, I believe it implicitly but I still don’t understand the physics of it, if you like. But it becomes even more personal when the apostle Paul; writes, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Rom 8:11) Life to our mortal bodies? Does this mean when we die or is there an experience of that in some measure at least here and now? And that takes us back to the vexed subject of healing. Am I open to Jesus healing me or people near me? He certainly healed everyone who came to him in the Gospels. Is he different now? Does he not want to heal in the same way now? Your answers will depend on how far entrenched your mind is in terms of what is and what is not possible.
We’re now at our twentieth illustration of God who transforms – GOD who transforms! Is there really anything He cannot transform TODAY? Isn’t Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and for ever? (Heb 13:8). Should we, I wonder, like the father, pray, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk 9:24)