Say what? What do Noah and the Ark have to do with Easter? Last time I checked, both stories are pretty much on opposite ends of the Bible and do not intersect. But this year, as I reflect on what today, Good Friday, means, and what Easter Sunday means to me personally, Noah and his floating big boat have drifted into deeper waters into my own heart.
When it comes to Easter, lots of fond images come to mind when I transport myself back to Easter Sunday as a child… patent leather Mary Janes with white ankle socks, frilly yellow dresses, special choir music (Mom on the front row with her hanky), my dad preaching with black-rim glasses on, jelly beans, sweet potatoes, ham and iced tea. As you can tell, I have spent a large chunk of my life at the church, in the pew, as well as sliding underneath and around the pews. And, as I recall, I got in trouble, quite a lot that is, being the ever-present preacher’s kid. To this day, I can feel that phantom squeeze on my shoulder by some grumpy adult who felt it their duty to make me behave. Adults called it misbehaving; I simply called it “creative time killers.” One day I will write a handbook for preacher’s kids “101 Ways to Safely Occupy Yourselves at Church While You are Bored and Waiting on Your Parents to Stop Talking.”
Other times I recall getting in trouble were during Sunday School – especially when we got to the Old Testament! I specifically remember hearing the account of Noah & the Ark, and yawning. All the intricate detail that went into building that big boat! Why would God bother putting all that in the Bible? Every specification, the gopher wood, the cubits, the length, breadth, height, lower, second, third deck, and then all the animals after their own creeping kind, on and on. Listening to all of that detail, my attention span flew out the window faster than Noah’s white dove.
In reality, I have digested this story for forty plus years. Over this past year this story came to life and gave me a glimpse as to why these details God chose to insert into the pages of His whole story book. It struck me that it’s not the pieces and parts, nor the details and cubics and gopher wood God wanted me to remember, it was the message behind the details – the very message of Easter, the message of God’s relentless pursuing Love, the message of the incredible lengths God has gone to save mankind – to save and redeem each of us. Just as God refused to give up on mankind then and provided a way of escape, He does so now. The laborious, intricate lengths that God went to to build the ark is just a picture, a glimpse of the painstaking lengths He went to when He sent His own Son to die on our behalf.
We are the crown of God’s creation, made in His very own image. But in Genesis 6, it says God was “grieved in His heart” when He saw how corrupt mankind had become. So then He searched, pursued, and sought for a reason, a way to spare us, to save us from ourselves, and to show mercy. God looked and sought the earth and found just one man, Noah. How amazing that with just a single person, one single man, God was willing to go to such great lengths to preserve those He created in His image. God offered Noah a way of escape and by faith Noah accepted the elaborate gift God provided.
One obscure man. One outrageous rescue. Like Noah, I am just one. Small. Obscure. A blip on the radar of this broken universe. The story of Noah is the story of me – of you, of every single person. It’s the “whosoever believes” of John 3:16. God’s love was elaborate, extravagant, and relentless. The suffering Jesus endured on this day, on the cross, was for you, for me. The death He conquered 3 days later saved us each from ourselves and from our own self-destruction. Simply put, He died so that we wouldn’t have to. II Corinthians 5:15 says that “Christ died for all.” This means He died for every single person. It’s personal. It’s Love. It’s forgiveness. It’s healing. Heaven. Hope. It’s Life. Our salvation. Our escape. Our Savior. He is risen.