GROspiritually

The Presumption of Checkmate – an Easter Thought

As a panorama, the story of the Bible is probably best understood as being dramatic in nature. More specifically, it is the revealed and unfolding drama of redemption.

The dramatis personae are well known to any student of Scripture – as are the Protagonist and antagonist.

But the message of the Bible can also be viewed as a game. I do not mean in the frivolous sense of the term… there is nothing frivolous about the story of redemption.

Rather, I am referring to the idea of a game in the original (c. 1200 A.D.) meaning of the term – a contest between opponents, under rules governing the game, with superiority going to the winner

Come Easter time, I always think of the game of chess when I ponder the contest… the game…  that played out for our redemption. I’ll tell you why shortly.

In space and time, The Game is still playing out. But the dénouement of the contest was reached and the outcome decided on a Jerusalem hillside long ago. 

In my thoughts, the two metaphors above always meet at Easter. The drama and the game join together. For me, it is the spectacle of spectacles – a splendid display, in the true meaning of that word.

And though they are certainly playing out as one, I tend to separate the two metaphors in my head as I run the movie in my mind. I see the visible, natural scene and the invisible spiritual one.

In the natural realm, I see the drama playing out. The players and places are all there:

Center stage, the Master in the throes of Passion week
The Garden of Gethsemane
Judas, the son of perdition
The rueful Peter and the rooster ever associated with his name
The temple guards and the Roman soldiers
Annas and Caiaphas (the former and current high priests of Israel)
The house of Caiaphas
The Sanhedrin (ancient Israel’s supreme court)
Pontius Pilate
Herod Antipas
30 pieces of silver
Barabbas
The soldiers, the beatings
The crown of thorns, the robe of mockery
The road
The hill
The cross
The two thieves
The empty tomb

And the spiritual contest, playing out in the realm unseen. The spiritual battle. The spiritual game. (For we wrestle not against flesh and blood…)

Let this cup pass
Not my will but yours
Sweating drops of blood
I must drink the cup
Death

How the enemy must have gloated. How he must have howled. Its mine, it’s all mine. I’ve won the game.

In my imagination I hear him saying CHECKMATE!

That word, you see, comes from an ancient Arabic phrase meaning the king is dead.

Yes, the King was dead.

There was no denying that.

But the King was not done.

For, as an elderly minister titled his Easter sermon years ago – It’s Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!

That’s Easter for me. At once a drama and a contest – a passion play and a game played out, played to the end.

Winner take all.

Happy Easter!

GROspiritually, Christian Growth, Biblical Essays, Dr Michael Ruth
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