Saturday, April 21 , 2018, 1:13 pm | Fair 68º


D.C. Collier: ‘Weed’ That Wouldn’t Die Lowers the Bloom on Hasty Judgment

I want to introduce you to a slow learner. Me.

Decades ago, I was in an intense hands-on Christian ministry training program and living in a rented home in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had cobbled together a private study in the back of a detached garage, connected to the house by a winding path of irregularly spaced flagstones. While lovely and harmless in the daytime, that darkened footpath transformed into a precarious contest of hopscotch-to-safety at night.

My Nemesis

When we first moved in, I barely noticed a tangled knot of what I thought was a nasty weed growing up between two flagstones in the dead-center of a particularly dark section of my passageway. Time and again, while scurrying out to the office, I’d find myself tripping over that tangle — papers scattered, books dropped, pencils lost, coffee spilled, amid a primal torrent of swear words that should have gotten me kicked out of the program.

So next day, there I’d be with a succession of garden tools, whacking away at that snare mercilessly — I even dreamed about TNT and biological warfare.

Nothing seemed to work. It always returned with a vengeance, surreptitiously extending its tripwire-like tentacles across my path like a living IED lying in wait as I naively approached.

Sometime later, we were called out of town for a three-week visit and prepared to lock up and vacate the house. But first, I “carpet bombed” my nemesis with one last barrage of chemicals and various “small arms fire,” then off we went.

Another Cause for Stumbling Long Ago

Similarly, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, a cryptic prophesy describes a “stone” that God himself would place on Israel’s “footpath” sometime in the distant future:

“Therefore, thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.’”1

Over seven centuries later, the Apostle Paul identifies that stone as a stumbling block that men would unwittingly trip over. It was none other than Jesus Christ:

“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”2

They thought they were rid of him. The crucifixion process as perfected by the Romans was designed not just to kill, but to drag out the unimaginable suffering in a way that gave the condemned criminal and his spectators ample time to meditate on the downside of crimes against Caesar’s regime. It wasn’t pretty — speaking prophetically about Israel’s coming Messiah, Isaiah predicted what was going to really happen to him:

“At first everyone was appalled. He didn’t even look human — a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.”3

“He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.”4

In the book, Cracking the God Code, the late Michael Saward writes:

“The sight was obscene. No wonder the Romans themselves shrank from such enormity and only inflicted it upon slaves and subject peoples. However guilty, no Roman citizen must meet such a fate. So ran the law.”

It’s Alive!

We returned home from our trip around Good Friday and had lots of catching up to do, so I had no reason to go out to my office in the back until Easter afternoon. Nothing could have prepared me for what I encountered on the way out to my office.

There, standing proudly in the middle of my footpath, almost defiantly, was a spectacularly beautiful, deliciously fragrant three-foot tall cluster of white calla lilies, literally glowing in the bright sunshine.

Dumbfounded, my tears came first, then an overwhelming sense of shame. I felt like falling on my knees and begging forgiveness from this elegant, heavenly creature risen up from deep in the ground beneath my feet.

How could I have done such things to something that intended nothing more than to bless me with its presence?

It took that experience to finally teach me the dazzling brilliance of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. They threw everything at Jesus and left him for dead as well. Yet he sprung forth in victory.

Here is how Matthew recounted it:

“After the Sabbath, as the first light of the new week dawned, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to keep vigil at the tomb ...

“The angel spoke to the women: ‘There is nothing to fear here. I know you’re looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed.’

“Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”

“The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. ”Good morning!’ he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet and worshiped him.”5

All that violence visited upon Jesus could only kill his body. But Jesus’ spirit was rooted in the heavens, energized by an eternal life that could not be extinguished — the more people “hacked away” at it, the more it grew.

Though only a handful of people listened to this gentle innocent from another dimension, those who did truly “hear” were rewarded with an experience of God so vivid that they would risk their lives to tell others about what they had seen and heard. In the process, they were to turn the then-known world upside down under the influence of God’s winsome salvation message.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. Isaiah 28:16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

2. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (NASB)

3. Isaiah 52:13-14 (MSG)

4. Isaiah 53:7 (MSG)

5. Matthew 28:1-10 The Message (MSG)

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