Reflection from the readings for November 14, 2015
Scripture has two authors. The human being writing it in a specific time and place, and the eternal God who, as spirit, is outside of time and space. Thus, there are always two senses through which to approach a passage, the literal and the spiritual. In other words, what did the specific person, in their specific setting intend to say, and what is the limitless God still saying? It is through this spiritual sense that I want to look at the first half of our passage from the book of Wisdom.
The literal sense clearly harkens back to Israel’s deliverance from their captivity in Egypt, specifically the night of the Passover when the first born sons were killed. It can be a tempting passage for us to gloss over, but we should not be quick to miss the depth that can come out of such passages. This passage is also a revelation of Christ.
In this passage we find the personified Word bounding from heaven to earth and standing between the two, “he still reached to heaven, while he stood upon earth.” This is the reality of Jesus, face of God to humanity and the face of humanity to God. Now you might be saying, “That is all well and good, but what about the warrior and death dealing stuff?”
First, Jesus is a fierce warrior, but He does not wield the devices of violence that we expect. He does not fight as we fight against each other, but rather He fights as God fights for us.
Second, He bears the sharp sword of God’s decree, however it won’t be used to cut us all down, but it will be turned on Himself. Jesus came to the earth to reveal the vastness of God’s love for us by becoming one of us. Now, for Jesus to reveal God’s love He has to reveal that He is, in His person, God. The problem arises because in our fallen world the idea of the monotheistic God of Judaism becoming human is scandalously and blasphemously incomprehensible. Thus, by His own decrees regarding blasphemy and our inability to grasp who Jesus is, He is killed, because He was fighting for us, not against us.
Third, but still you ask, “It says that ‘he filled every place with death’.” Yes! He did! His death. He filled every place with the reality of His death so that every place could have access to the reality of His resurrection! In baptism we are baptized into His death, so that in rising we may rise with Him!
Fourth, as this passage harkens back to Passover we need to see one more clear revelation of Christ. During the Passover either the firstborn died or the lamb died. In the person of Jesus Christ, He is both. He is the firstborn of the Father and of Mary, and He is the Lamb of God.
So if we resist the urge to gloss over this passage we see God’s promise of Christ revealed. Our fierce warrior, who comes not to fight against us but for us. Who knowingly comes to die so that through His death He can make His life available, and not just for one nation, but for Jew and Gentile alike. We read this passage and glorify God not because of His killing, but because of His dying.
May we always find the face of Christ revealed in God’s scripture, and through God’s scripture be transformed into fierce warriors that fight for others, rather than against. Not fighting with our tools of violence, but in imitation of our Lord’s sacrifice.