On April 15th, my social media feeds were filled with photos and videos of the tragic flames consuming the beloved Notre-Dame of France. This famous cathedral that beautifully stood for centuries in the heart of Paris fell within hours. What thousands of artists and artisans perfected over hundreds of years was defaced in a moment. And, the world was watching.
Though no lives were taken, the scene was still horrific. Why?
The structure was meaningful in so many ways to so many people. To some, it was the very soul of France. To others, it was a prime example of French Gothic architecture. Whatever impression it had, the general reaction was grief and anger. The response of the people was an outcry for resurrection, which has been promised by the French President Macron.
A day before, the Notre Dame fire, another momentous, but less known, event took place.
Since 2008, Tiger Woods has not won a major golfing title. With scandal and injury, the talented golfer has been on the downhill wondering if recovery was even possible. With new talent coming in every year, the name of Tiger Woods was nostalgic at best. All conversation of whether or not Tiger would exceed Jack Nicklaus’ major title record was dismissed until this past Sunday rolled around.
Tiger shot exceptionally well through the Master’s tournament in Augusta, GA. All of the limelight fell on him as he climbed the ranks into first place. It seemed like the whole nation was rooting for him. On the final shot, Tiger stood a few feet away from the hole and tapped. The crowd was silent until the ball found its home. Upon the cheers and a fist-pumping Tiger, the announcer shouted, “The return to glory!”
So, what does Notre Dame and Tiger Woods have to do with Holy Week?
Nothing really :) But, with Easter on the horizon, my soul could not help but draw a parallel to Christ’s death and resurrection.
In the times of Christ, the temple was like Notre-Dame. The Jewish community placed so much significance and prestige on it. So, when Jesus claimed that something greater than the temple was here, many were outraged. Even more so, when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”, many were confused because he was talking about his body.
The shift from the significance of the temple, as a place of worship, to the importance of the body of Jesus is one of my favorite thematic developments in the Bible. No longer would the people of God rely on bricks and mortar for worship but in a person! And this new temple of God, which had been in the making since the Garden of Eden, was destroyed in a moment. And, like Notre-Dame, some were in mourning. But, thanks be to God, Christ was raised from the dead and returned to glory far exceeding anyone’s golf game.
It doesn’t matter if all the churches in the world burn down. The Church is not a building! It cannot be destroyed because Christ cannot be destroyed. Death has no claim on him! And, those who are united to him, he will never cast out. Whatever glorious resurrection the French government can muster for Notre-Dame, it cannot even begin to measure up to the glorious resurrection the church will experience.
The mission of Holy Week is summed up in Hebrews 2:9–10, “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Christ suffered, died, and was raised from the dead in order to bring many to glory.
Continuing this mission, Christ has commanded his people to go out into the world discipling, baptizing, and teaching all the nations. Though churches like Notre-Dame are built in this mission, the state of the church does not rest on pebbles but on people. I hope that this year’s Easter celebration would inspire you to ask “how am I participating in the mission of the Church”.
Written by Staff Writer Cody Irwin