Three nights ago I introduced my kids to an experience that my dad introduced to me when I was a kid. I introduced them to the republic serials of 1938.
Dick Tracy to be exact!
The reaction that I got was very similar to the reaction that I had given when I was their age. Absolute thrill combined with absolute frustration. We have watched one chapter each night and as each chapter closes my kids look over to me with a stunned wide eyed look and ask, "Dad??? Does he really die?".
If these are before your time it is ok. They were before my time as well. They are what entertainment used to be before everything went crazy. The serials were movies broken down into 15 suspense filled chapters. They last 15 to 20 minutes each and every chapter ended with what was referred to as a cliffhanger ending. It was the ending of each chapter that filled a person with absolute thrill and absolute frustration. It was the chapter's end that left the situation in an absolute hopeless state.
The hero would be found in a crashing plane or a runaway train, and when the scene closed there was positively no conceivable way that anyone could have survived the burning wreckage displayed on the screen.
When the next episode came on you were shown one vital 2 second scene that showed where escape was found and then on to the next awaiting peril. Pretty cool stuff to be honest and my kids love them.
As I watched these last night with my kids, I could not help of a real life cliffhanger that took place on a Friday night 2,000 years ago.
If this was before your time it is ok. This was before my time as well. This was what life was like before things got really crazy!
The chapter opened in a garden.
"And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."
~ Mark 14:32-36
This is a powerful scene in the life of Christ. In fact, John 17 records a conversation between the Father and the Son where Jesus asks for us. Think about that! He asked the Father for us. That thought alone completely renews the story of Easter in an amazing new line.
But the chapter of this episode opens in a garden and the episode ends with a cross. An ugly instrument, not of service, but of death! As the episode closes, and the screen begins to go dark there is Jesus our savior hanging dead on that cross, there are mocking soldiers, hissing crowds, cheering demons, mourning loved ones, fleeing disciples, and smirking Pharisees.
But this was not just another cheap cliffhanger. This next episode brought a finality that can never be undone!
See, the tomb changed everything! It meant that the cliffhangers would be no more. There would only be chapters with a secured ending from now on!
Christ came not just to love us and die for us, but He came so that we in turn could love like Him! He came so that we could have the exchanged life. His life through us.
He ushered in the new covenant and we received the promise that others in Hebrews 11 did not. We have the opportunity to have Christ indwell us!
It was more than just a sad cliffhanger that Friday night that had no conceivable way of escape to be found. It was part of a necessary chapter that ushered in victory!
I love this picture. As the fingers of dawn crept into that tomb and slid across that rough hewn stone floor, they discovered an empty pile of grave linens that were no doubt still heavy with burial perfume.
This event means something absolutely wonderful to me and to you.
Think for a minute about the "Serial" of your life.
The "Serial" of your life could be broken down into a number of suspense filled chapters (Years).
If each chapter could be viewed as a year. The chapters of your serial would last exactly 525 960 minutes and every chapter ends with what is referred to as a cliffhanger ending.
Your "Serial" is no different than mine, because many times the events in your "serial" have filled a you with absolute thrill and absolute frustration.
It may very well be that this current chapter of your "Serial" seems to find your situation in an absolute hopeless state.
No conceivable way out of this figurative plane crash or train wreck, and you have been quietly observing a dream or a hope become transformed into a burning wreckage as the screen seems to dim into complete and total blackness.
Your story is not over yet! It is just a chapter. What the ending of the chapter does not tell you and never will is that there is a final outcome to the "Serial". The outcome is an final ending to the "cliffhanger" effect.
The tomb ushered in the end of the cliffhangers of life, because it revealed a final outcome.
Dick Tracy, Sky King, Sgt. Preston, Crash Corrigan, Commando Cody and every other serial star could never fast forward to the final outcome.
They had to plod along through cliffhanger after cliffhanger being filled with frustration and terror. We get to see the final outcome because of the tomb. We still go through the chapters, but no longer is it a cliffhanger.
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." ~ John 17:1-3
We are going to go through each chapter that composes our "Serial" and some chapters may stand out as great while others stand out as rough, but the outcome for the Child of the King is already secured!
What has your chapter brought your way so far?
I invite you to read John 17 and remember the final outcome. God came so that we could be kept in Him.
No longer a cliffhanger ending!
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." ~Romans 8:28
Happy Easter! Now go out and enjoy your "Serial"!
Climbing with you,