On Good Friday I was collecting nettles from our garden. My children had been stung more than once and it was time for them to go. I decided not to let them go to waste. God taught me a lesson I want to share with you.
On Good Friday we remember the death of Jesus. As I stood stripping the nettle leaves from their stalks I felt the sting in my hands. I was wearing gloves to protect myself from the stinging, and yet despite my best efforts I was still stung. There was nothing I could do. The stinging was enevitable. Likewise to follow Jesus means to associciate ourselves with Jesus’ death. To feel the sting of having our saviour die a horrid death in our place. On good friday as we remember that he is there in our place the stinging is real.
Now Mary stood outside [Jesus’] tomb crying.John 20:11
The day after is Holy Saturday. On this day the disciples scattered and hid. Unsure what had just happened. Unsure what to do next. On this Holy saturday my hands are numb. The pain of the nettle sting has turned to a cross between a dull ache and a numbness, like my hands are unsure what to do with the sensation. This year the majority of the world is experiencing something of what this was like; stuck inside, unsure what to do next, not knowing when all this will be over, not knowing if they are safe. The disciples waited. We wait.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Psalm 22: 1-2
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
It’s amazing what one can make from a stinging weed. What others consider unredeemable can be made into something so delicious, so life giving: Nettle Soup. Likewise, it is amazing what God can make from death and dispair. New Life and New hope:
5 The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him.Matthew 28: 5-9
Jesus death is not just some trick, but the start of a new kingdom, with Jesus as the king. Where justice and mercy reigh, and where all are loved. It is the story that you are known, you are loved, you are welcomed, and you are made clean. It is the story that nothing can overcome the power of God, not even death itself. And just like the sting had been taken away from the nettles and the death of Jesus by his resurrection, so will the sting taken away from the death of those who belong to king Jesus becuase as we share in his death, we also share in his resurrection.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
55 ‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 15:54-57