When I graduated from theological school I went with my sister and my daughter on a trip to Disneyland. I loved one ride in particular, a part of the Alice in Wonderland story, Mr. Toad’s wild adventure. As rides went, it was pretty tame, which meant that it was perfect for me. But the part that impressed me, and which to this day is the only part that I remember is the stop we made at the judges bench, where we were pronounced guilty and directed through the swinging doors to hell. We plunged into utter darkness. The overwhelming stench of sulpher filled our nostrils. We descended down the tunnel, and the air became fetid, and heavy as we traveled through the steamy underworld. Then we rounded a corner and in the dark, right in front of our eyes was the smirk of the Cheshire Cat.
This image often comes to mind as I meditate on the Biblical truth that we are all sinners and worthy of eternal punishment. So it seemed to me that today is a good day to introduce another of the Spiritual Disciplines that I attempt to practice…..MEDITATION. The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible defines Meditation as: Prayerful rumination upon God, his Word and his world. I’m not sure how a ride from a fantasy world fits into this definition, but the images invoked by that ride, often causes me to think about the journey that Jesus took through death and hell.
Tomorrow is Good Friday, and as I reflect and meditate on the death of Jesus and what it means for me, I recall portions of Mr. Toad’s adventure and impose them upon the sacrifice of Jesus. In my mind I can see Jesus standing before the judge and being pronounced guilty. I can see Jesus being sent through the doorway to hell and plunging into the utter darkness. And I can see the Cheshire cat-like grin of Satan as he gloats in triumph over the victory that he thinks that he has won.
Then I recall with joy that this is not Satan’s victory, but God’s. Jesus paid the penalty for the sin of humankind and forever ensured our righteousness (right standing) with God. Paul writes to the Romans saying:
Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. Romans 5: 18