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  • Writer's pictureRev. Christopher Tweel

Dr. Who teaches the Gang about Easter


Lately my decompression node has been watching good old Dr. Who episodes. If you have never seen Dr. Who you can imagine something along the lines of Star Trek without any of those bothersome rules such as physics and probability. Grated Star Trek physics are made up, but they still adhere to them for the most part, except when they run into the inevitable "anomaly."

Dr. Who is great though, and the remake of it in the last few years is a well polished version of the first inception that came along in the early 80s. It deals a lot with interconnected timelines and really the plot spans several seasons overall, with the season 4 finally culminating a story that spans between the previous incarnation and this new series. Very Douglas Adams. It does get you thinking along certain lines though if you ever want to have any hope of making sense out of it all. So, with this type of brain training peppering my Holy Week I realized something interesting during our Easter Service.

There is a scene in the last week of Christ in which we find him praying in the garden. Praying so hard, or being so concerned about his topic that his sweat falls like blood. Interesting side note here is that Gethsemane means "oil press" and we have the metaphor of Jesus with a huge weight on his heart. Jesus prays, and asks God to allow the cup to pass from him. The cup we accept as meaning the sum of experiences that are being presented. Usually we interpret this to be about Jesus not wanting to be the sacrifice. That in some way he was asking if there was another way that it should be done in another way. And really, that always bothered me. I suppose on some level it is comforting to imagine Jesus having a moment of weakness, and praying in earnest for God to hear him, and then still saying that whatever God has in store will be done.

Still others try to contest that the passage in Mark was somehow added later in order to speak more to Mark's Auden who were themselves suffering under persecution. That because the verse stands out, it must have been added later. Which makes me ask the question, if someone WERE adding it later, wouldn't they take greater care to make it seem like they didn't? To say otherwise is to commit historical hubris wherein we people of the present somehow think that every person of the ancient world was moronic and not able to see what would be a thinly disguised attempt to tamper with the Gospel.

I think there is another answer. And Dr. Who brought me to it. When we read this passage we tend to imagine that Jesus is thinking about his own future. But, Jesus knows he is immortal. He has deep knowledge of this. He knows he is going to come back. Is he such a little prancing princess that he is afraid of the pain? I don't think

so. We fail to realize that just as he knows his own future he also knows EVERYONE'S future.

Molto Bene

He sees the entire story playing out, beginning with his death, resurrection and ascension. He knows that this is only the beginning. Like Dr. Who this is only season one, the climactic ending will only give way to another season and even more earth shattering conclusion.

Let's look at something and then come back...

The apostle's future::

Simon Peter -- aided Paul (and argued with him) in starting churches, even a church in Rome. Crucified by the empire upside down.

James and John -- The thunder brothers. James was killed by Herod Agrippa just 11 years after Jesus rose. John, was one of the few to die of natural causes.

Andrew -- preached all over Greece and Asia Minor, crucified in Achaia

Phillip -- beheaded at Hieropolis

Bartholomew -- flayed alive and crucified in Armenia

Matthew -- stayed in Jerusalem preaching to people there, died a martyr in Ethiopia

Thomas -- went east to Persia and was executed by a lance

James Alpheus -- five years or so after the resurrection he was thrown down from the temple by the scribes, he was then stoned and had his head smashed by a fuller's  staff.

Thaddeus -- martyred in Syria, buried in Iran.

Simon the Canaanite -- killed brutally in a revolt against the empire that was put down

Judas -- hung himself then dashed to "pieces" (gross)

So imagine for a minute you are Jesus. This is the night before all of this stuff goes down. You are around 30, and a lot of these guys are young. In their early 20s in most cases, maybe closer to 17 or 18. You, as Jesus, have been leading these guys around the country--preaching, teaching, getting to know them, their families, laughing with them, eating with them, hiding from the Romans, creating something new and incredible. And now, it's all going to change. You are going to go. The real work of the ministry will start and you wont be there to protect them. Worse yet, you know they are all going to die. Starting with Judas. Not only die, but die horribly far far from their homes. And in a way it is all your fault.

I pose another scenario for the garden. The prayer we hear Jesus repeating over and over (in Mark is says he keeps going back after waking the apostles up to "pray, saying the same words") is not a prayer for himself. It is a prayer for his friends. Is is a desperate cry on their behalf that if there was any way possible for these boys not to have to die. For them to go on and lead good lives and have families and children of their own.

That makes infinitely more sense.

Just the Doctor

Jesus isn't selfish, or cowardly, or weak. He is earnestly praying over and over for his friends. He wants it to be different. Jesus has this marathon, blood squeezing, gut wrenching prayer because he can't believe that having these boys die is the only way. He cries out like the author of so many psalms, in anguish and pain, pleading with God on behalf of someone else. And in the end of it, he speaks the truth he knows. Not my will... Your will alone GOD. Even being who he is, and wanting a noble thing he knows that it must be the way of God. I find that infinitely more inspiring and comforting than a Jesus who is trying to wheedle out of something, or words that were added after the fact.

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