Before Love Thy Nerd had a website, we were chomping at the bit to bring you thoughtful nerdy content. Here are our Holy Week reflections from 2018, originally posted in our Love Thy Nerd Community group.
Palm Sunday & Holy Monday
When Jesus showed up to the Temple, it was full of blackmailers who turned sacrifice into an opportunity for exploitation. So he flipped them out. Whip braided, lots of yelling until they cleared out. Then he healed the sick.
In Okami, when Amaterasu shows up in Nippon, she finds the land covered in similar darkness, poisoned by demonic blight. So she grabs a celestial brush, uses it to flip over a few hundred tables, and purifies the land. Then she heals every person she meets along the way.
Tuesday and the Olivet Discourse
In the final week before his Crucifixion, Jesus spent his days teaching the people and at night retreated to the Mount of Olives. There, away from the world, his disciples finally felt safe enough to ask him about the woe he had spoken about. Jesus didn’t have comfort for the disciples. Instead, he described the devastation that would happen in our age. He didn’t leave the disciples to sit on their hands, however. “You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the son of man is going to show up” (Matthew 24:43-44, MSG).
In Campo Santo’s Firewatch, Henry takes a job as a lookout in a remote corner of the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming. He thinks he’s safe from his fractured life with his wife, Jules, but reality comes to him instead.
“Why are we here?” Delilah asks.
“To make sure the damn wilderness doesn’t burn down.”
“No. Our job is to be here when that happens. Henry, there are some things you can’t prevent. So just stay in your tower, okay? Stay in there. And watch.”
In the narratives of the Passion of Jesus given in the four gospels, no mention whatsoever of what transpired on Wednesday of that week is recorded by any of them. With Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the narrative seems to leap from late on Tuesday, “From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus,” to Thursday afternoon: “Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread. . .” (Matthew 26:16, Mark 14:11, Luke 22:6-7). John’s gospel is even less forthcoming of this section of time (John 12). For this reason, tradition has designated this Wednesday of the Holy Week as Silent Wednesday. But what could we possibly have to say about a day of which the gospel writers themselves are silent? What gives?
James Gunn, prior to Guardians of the Galaxy fame and fortune, wrote and directed a film called Super about a sad fry-cook named Frank whose wife leaves him for a drug dealer. After Frank receives a message from God to become a vigilante hero, he recruits a local comic book store clerk, named Libby, to help him embody the comic book hero ethos. The movie as a whole is difficult to recommend, but one exchange Frank and Libby share while waiting for crime stood out:
Frank: Maybe you need to be bored sometimes.
Libby: You don’t see them bored in comic books.
Frank: That’s what happens in between the panels.
Libby: Wow, in between the panels! Is that where we are right now? . . . We could do anything here.
Writers tend to exclude from a narrative anything that doesn’t directly relate to their story or message. Life, in this and other ways, is not like the comics. In our own experience, we find that not everything that happens to us is incredibly meaningful or exciting, but these moments of in-between provide opportunities to reflect on what went before, prepare for what comes after, and to seize the freedom in our down time when we need only be.
In The Last Shawarma, by internet artist Boss Logic, we see most of the current cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sitting at an identical table in a Shawarma restaurant. Arrayed around Tony Stark are the many heroes we’ve come to know and love, sharing a last moment together before the great Infinity War. While some Christians might assume that this artwork trivializes the Last Supper, it’s important to note that in the context of the Infinity War, some of these heroes will not come home. In that sense, it pays homage to the greater sacrifice it caricatures as they are ready to lay their life on the line to ensure that the universe can be saved from the threat of Thanos, the Mad Titan.
Today marks the Last Supper, where Jesus shared a last Passover meal with his disciples before his betrayal and execution. Jesus demonstrated in the rituals of the Passover that he himself would be the cup of redemption—that through his sacrificial death on the cross, the sins of the world would be forgiven and all might be redeemed.
Going into the week of Passover, Jesus and the disciples had differing ideas of how the weekend was going to go. Throughout all the gospels we can see that Jesus knew what his purpose and end goal was. This was not the case for the disciples. They believed Jesus to be the Messiah, but a Messiah who was going to free Israel from the Romans and establish Israel on top of the world powers once again. In Luke 22:24-30, we can even see the disciples debating about who is the greatest and who will have the most power.
In a few short hours, all of the disciples’ plans and ideas would be shattered. Jesus’ death sent the disciples into a state of hopelessness. They could not see any possible way to success with their Messiah dead on a cross.
Many times, I have felt a similar feeling of hopelessness. As I played XCOM Enemy Unknown, I have gone into missions feeling on top of the world. I head in with confidence, much like the disciples probably felt as they entered Jerusalem with Jesus. My confidence was soon taken away as my whole XCOM team was killed by the enemy forces. The hopelessness of these moments can seem insurmountable and at times causes me to consider giving up, or think that perhaps I am not good enough to succeed.
Today, take a moment to reflect on the hopelessness of the disciples and remember hope is only a couple days away.
In a world that has been broken beyond compare, a sinister clown proclaims he is the god and hope is nowhere to be found. The World of Ruin in the much-loved Final Fantasy VI strikes a powerful note of despair, culminating in the desperate choice of a forlorn Celes to cast herself off a cliff and dash upon the rocks (unless you are excellent at catching fish). Final Fantasy VI gives us a world that feels irreparably damaged and the only hope is the friendship of this rag-tag team of heroes. In this story, the good guys didn’t win, but they had to forge hope anew in a shattered world.
Imagine the world the disciples lived in Friday night as they watched their Lord get carried off the cross and buried. He was supposed to win! He was supposed to bring a new hope! That Friday night had to be the worst of days for those who watched Jesus breathe His last. They could not have known the bright and shining, perfect hope found in those words, “It is finished!”
We celebrate Good Friday and call it good because our Lord won the definitive boss fight with His blood on the cross. And we who now live in a broken world are called to forge our families, our communities, our workplaces with the hope that Good Friday was not the end of the story. Because there is hope left in this world. One hope in a Risen Savior who paid it all.
Waiting is one of the most frustrating aspects of video games. To be honest, there is a lot more waiting than most people realize. Often, we wait for the game to release, the expansion to come out, the game to finish patching or updating. Even within the realm of the game itself, we wait. We wait until we are high enough level to equip certain weapons. We wait until we have unlocked an area. We wait until we have finished one quest line to go on to another more interesting one.
But we also prepare. The day before the resurrection, the disciples prepared. They were in mourning and pain. The disciples gathered what they thought they would need and herbs for the body of their Lord. Others prepared as well. A stone was placed in front of the tomb and guards were placed in front—preparing to ensure no one would steal the body of Jesus. Let us prepare. God hasn’t finished with our stories. Tomorrow brings a reminder of our hope, even to those who are feeling stuck. We are preparing, and being prepared.