The last scene in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is nothing if not brief. It lasts all of about two minutes. But those one hundred and twenty seconds, coming as they do on the heels of the betrayal and violence of Jesus’ last few hours on earth, are heavy with meaning.
Sunlight streams into the tomb, cascading down its walls as the stone, just off camera, rolls quietly out of the way. The light lands finally on the linens slowly collapsing on the ledge, no body in place now to fill them out. The camera pauses there and then slowly zooms out to the foot of the ledge, taking in the profile of seated Jesus, eyes closed, face to the light. His eyes open, looking up into the brightness, reflecting recognition, vulnerability. They close again, quiet, composed. Then they reopen, slightly narrowed, focused, horizontal, purposeful. He rises. The camera catches one last fleeting glimpse, the top of a nail scarred hand. Then in one stride he is gone, out of the tomb and into history. The scene is brief but the message is unmistakable. Nothing on earth, not even brutal death, is as it seems.
I spent some time musing on that this week. I hope that you will too. Here is what came to mind. I’d appreciate it if you would share what comes to yours.
The world as we know it, with all of its chaos and confusion, greed and brutality, disaster and tragedy, is not all there is. There is more, so much more goodness and peace, order and kindness, prosperity and joy that in the Apostle Paul’s words, we cannot even begin to imagine it.
The tiny glimpses of Jesus, the moments of spiritual clarity that have come during times of worship and prayer and meditation; the consciousness of the Presence, transcendent power manifesting itself in ultimate stillness as if one were sitting at the foot of the Red Sea watching the fish swim as Moses and the Israelites walked through on dry ground, feeling the weight of the wall of water yet not fearing it; that all of these things have been but the briefest shadow of the magnificent Power that watches over us flitting across the soul. The reality waits on the other side.
The Word of God, with all of its predictions, all of its promises, all of its wisdom and all of its judgments will ultimately be fulfilled to the wonder and awe of all the earth.
I will see Mike again, and Steve and Joseph and Dad.
And we – all of us - will see Jesus no longer, “through a glass, darkly” but face to face, and that will be enough.