The Hidden God Who Reveals Himself in Suffering
We loved this recent entry from The Mockingbird Devotional and thought it was too good – and relevant – not to share:
“Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.’”
The Crystal Skull movie notwithstanding, Indiana Jones movies have made me glad to be alive. Honestly, what makes you happier than coming home at night to watch someone else dodge poison darts? Anyway, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has a very poignant illustration for us as we consider this reading from Matthew.
Jones and a bunch of other people (Nazis included) are searching for the Holy Grail. They end up in a cave with a lot of different chalices to choose from. The Nazi guy chooses first and he chooses the beautiful, ornate chalice meant for a king. All of the sudden, you see him melt like rubber, and an ancient knight says, “He chose…poorly.” Indiana Jones is up next, and he gives it a lot of thought. He chooses the most earthen and common cup he could find, and he chooses wisely.
The first idea—the Nazi’s choosing of a kingly cup—is the idea of straight-line power. This is a portrayal of Jesus the regal, who brings historic deliverance for his people and deals wrath to his foes. This is what all Jews in Jesus’ day were looking for, perhaps including John the Baptist. Not that you can blame them at all—but here sits John, in prison-cell squalor, alone and at the total mercy of a captor who hates him. And as the rodents scurry beneath the bars of his cell, you can surely imagine his own certainty about who Jesus is scurrying, too. So, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus if he is the one John thinks he is. If not, should they expect another?
The second idea—the common cup of Indiana’s choosing—is the hidden God, who reveals himself in suffering. You can see it in verse 25 of this chapter, too: Jesus thanks the Father that he has hidden himself from the typical halls of power, and has instead chosen to reveal himself in the places power ignores. In other words, God is not revealing himself in glorious revolution or social upheaval, or any other demonstrative form of power. God is revealing himself as the suffering servant; as the one everyone turns away from. He is hiding himself so well, in fact, that it even eludes the prophet.
This hiddenness is where we meet him. It is the lostness and lastness in all of us that meets God, without having to hide or run. Strangely enough, God in this place is much more powerful than power ever could be.