My son is a collector.
Doesn’t matter much what the object is, but were you to drop in at our place on any given day you would find small collections stashed in tins, on plates and in plastic bags. Vacated snail shells. Pebbles. Old business cards. Once, he collected a pile of broad bean husks and we didn’t find his hidey hole until months later, mould and all! But his all-time favourite is acorns.
Every trip to the park sees him return home with fistfuls of acorns, pockets bulging with the things (although he insists they are coconuts).
Recently, we planted some.
We explained that from the unassuming little orb buried in a pot of dirt would sprout a tree – a grand and towering oak tree with strong sprawling branches and a height that would dwarf even daddy!
Did he understand? No. He was still looking at the acorn nestled in his palm. He liked the acorn, he could appreciate the acorn but he couldn’t truly grasp its potential.
In a few short days we will celebrate Good Friday, a day for remembering the death of Jesus Christ. When you read of Jesus’ life and death in the Bible, you quickly see that he was an acorn saviour. Still is, in fact. His entry was humble, his existence unassuming, his approach in the manner of a servant rather than a king. A pauper’s birth and a criminal’s death did not diminish the grandeur and reality of his mission.
Yet his closest friends, the disciples who he spent most of his time with, even they frequently failed to see the oak tree potential of Jesus’ life. Before Jesus died he reminded them, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.” (John 16:17)
The disciples were confused. They understood that Jesus was about to be killed but the puzzlement in their faces exposed the fact they couldn’t see beyond to the plan that Jesus’ death would fulfill. They were looking at Jesus with the same quizzical eyes that my three-year-old had scrutinised that acorn.
Jesus explained: “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:21-22)
Jesus died on the Friday.
For many people, their belief in him and the significance of his work ceases there. But that’s like planting an acorn and never returning to see the outcome, to rub its leaves between your fingers, to shelter under its branches or lean against its trunk.
It’s like saying to Jesus, “I like you, I appreciate the changes you brought to our culture, but I can’t get my head around the notion that you can save me from mortality – from decay and sin and death.” Which is why Easter also incorporates the Sunday when Jesus “conquered death” (as us church-types say) and rose from the grave sporting the wounds of his torturous death in his hands, feet and side.
Yes, Jesus was an excellent ‘acorn’. But He is a truly magnificent ‘oak tree’ to anyone who dares ponder the greater reality this Easter.
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday April 14, 2014.