During this past week suffering and death have been ever before me: From a philosophy class I am taking on Suffering, Tragedy and the Christian Faith, to a Time article written by Rob Bell concerning him getting his call to be a pastor in the midst of severe headaches, to a guest lecturer in Chapel talking about growing up in the persecuted Church of Columbia, to filling out ACPE (Association of Clinical Pastoral Education) applications about my views of spiritual care and suffering, and last night hearing a friend’s testimony about God’s presence with him in the midst of his young wife’s death. These events bring me to today: the Lord’s Day, Sunday, the First day, and the eschatological eighth day… and then I’m reminded of the “reason for the season”, Epiphany – Christ being revealed as God in the Gospels… in the midst of suffering.
Before the Passion of Lent and the Resurrection of Easter comes the Epiphany of the B.C. proclamation in Isaiah 53, “Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.”
The picture and the Isaiah 53 passage above are an attempt to articulate the reality of suffering, tragedy, sin and death in light of the reality of Jesus as LORD. It attempts to show that the cross is not only a historical event, but it is also a reality of God’s cruciform love for the world. I remember Robert Mulholland saying in class, “The Cross is not just something Jesus DID, it is a revelation of WHO God is.” During the season of Epiphany we see Jesus transfigured before us as God: Healing diseases, exorcising demons, and raising the dead. We follow the reality of Jesus as God in Epiphany into the reality of Christ’s cruciform love revealed in the Passion of Lent.