JESUS AND ROBINSON CRUSOEHenry Ford is quoted as saying that history is just one damn thing after another. Ignoring the details of the history associated with it, Samuel Beckett, came up with a play called Breath that lasted about 28 seconds. There's a dimly lit stage littered with scattered rubbish, there's a faint brief cry and breath inhaled, the very dim light begins to increase enough to make out what’s on stage but it's never bright, then another [identical] faint cry and breath being exhaled and light dims again into complete darkness.
Such is life! Such is history!
So it must feel, so it must look for multiplied millions.
The message of the Hebrew—Christian scriptures includes many stories of brutality, cruelty and heartlessness that beggar description. The world it reveals has a God-denying look and there’s enough in there about God himself that tempts even believers to look away, uneasy and embarrassed.
It isn’t difficult to go to the Bible and history and choose events that we can string together and create a Beckett play or a Ford viewpoint. Something like that sits before us in the book of Ecclesiastes—“Pointless, Pointless, Everything is pointless!” [How did that book ever make it into the canon?]
But neither Ford nor Beckett could live in such a world. In your mind you can visit a world like that but you can’t live there. You can read many pieces from the Hebrew—Christian scriptures and shake your head, perplexed, but you can’t read it as a whole and see it climax in Jesus Christ and dismiss it as another record of scattered rubbish that lies between a breath taken in and another expired—end.
In the Bible you come across events that defy chaos and emptiness; events that defy gloom and pointlessness.
String those events together. Think of the Exodus and the birth of a chosen nation; think of a preacher who made his appearance in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, a preacher who heralded the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ! String together Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, ascension and exaltation and look at the existence of millions of his followers down the centuries. String together these and so many other events and realities—realities just as real as the shocking realities, events just as historical as any history we can tell.
Robinson Crusoe lived alone for years, seeing his world in the same solitary way until that day when he saw a single human footprint. It could never be the same for him. A single piece of truth, a solitary event, and an entire world changed. That footprint was enough. He didn’t need to have all the answers to all the questions that flooded into his mind—the central issue was settled beyond dispute. He was not alone!
That’s enough. History changes, existence changes! Ford is wrong! Beckett is wrong!