Archive for May 2012

Reading a Book with Jesus

May 8, 2012

John 5:25 – 29



In the third season of Mad Men, Betty Draper’s father, Gene, moves into the Draper household, due to onset of dementia. He settles into the room down the hall from the children’s bedroom and the family does their best to adjust to the changes at hand. The beginning of a particular episode shows the grandfather and his granddaughter, Sally, in the room at night with Sally reading a book to him. It’s clear that this is an act of bonding between the two and they seem to be enjoying themselves. They are clearly growing closer.

A bit later, Sally approaches Gene’s room in search of him, but he is not present. She sees his money clip lying on the desk, full of money, and she takes a five-dollar bill from the clip without asking. This causes uproar in the household as Gene is infuriated by the fact that someone stole his money. Sally sees how mad her grandfather is and she is terrified. She clearly knows what she did but she doesn’t want to admit it.

I don’t know if you have ever been in trouble with a grandparent, but it can be a lot scarier than getting in trouble with your parent. You see, grandparents are supposed to spoil you, not get upset with you. When you think of your grandparents, you’re reminded of the times you spent with them when they gave you that extra helping of ice cream; or that time they bought you the toy you really wanted for no particular reason. You’re not supposed to be in trouble with your grandparents and that makes it all the more intimidating. So that’s what Sally was experiencing here. She was scared and intimidated and really didn’t want the wrath of her grandfather focused on her.

As the episode goes on, Sally continues to struggle with her burden. For most of the episode she’s upset and thinking about what to do. Finally, at dinnertime, Sally tosses the money on the floor of the kitchen just before entering. Then, she comes into the room nonchalantly and picks up the five dollars exclaiming, “Oh, grandpa! Here’s five dollars! Is this it?” No one in the room is fooled, not even Sally’s little brother, and Gene glares at Sally. I mean he glares at her.

::Glare at everyone in the room::

It’s the kind of look that you know is drilling into you even if you’re not looking at that person. It was intense! And throughout the whole thing, Sally just hung her head with a look on her face that told us she was on the verge of tears.

Later, as Gene is lying in his bed, Sally comes to say goodnight to him. She tries to say it quickly and leave, but he calls her into the room. He glares at her again.

::Glare again::

This went on for what must have been ages for Sally. Then, Gene does something Sally doesn’t’ expect. He hands her the book they had been reading and instructs her to continue where they had left off. He never says anything about the money.

What happened here?! Gene knew Sally took that money. He knew she was the one responsible for causing all that commotion, frustration, and anger. But he forgave her. He simply handed her the book and continued on in their relationship like nothing had happened.

Gene knew what Sally had done, and judged her for it, with that piercing glare. And that judgment was harsh. Sally knew what was happening and felt really, really uncomfortable and guilty and ashamed. But in the end, forgiveness was given. Instead of putting more strain on their relationship, Gene wanted to revert back to how things were before the trust between them was broken. Gene could see that Sally felt bad about what she had done and decided that she had learned her lesson and didn’t need any more punishment. He wanted to forgive her, to be reconciled, and decided that Sally had been through enough to reach that reconciliation.

This story is going to be what Jesus’ judgment is going to be like when that final judgment is passed. It is going to be awkward. We’re going to have to face up to what we did wrong. And Jesus is going to glare at us. It is going to be harsh. I would put money on the fact that we’re not going to like Jesus’ judgment; mostly because we think of Jesus as a figure that is supposed to bring redemption to us and save us, not judge us. Jesus is supposed to be that grandparent that gives us extra ice cream and buys you that toy you really want and just spoils you!

But that isn’t going to happen. Not at first, anyway. Jesus is going to look at us in a way that is going to make us feel embarrassed and ashamed and guilty and we’re going to have to stand there and take it. We have done, and will do, things that Jesus and God don’t approve of. We sin, plain and simple. We’re human. That’s what we do. We disappoint God and Jesus every day of our lives, and in the end, we’re going to have to own up to those mistakes. There’s no escaping it. We will be judged.

However, Jesus still loves us and wants our relationship to be restored to a relationship that is built on trust. This is why Jesus is going to forgive us. We’re going to have to show to God that we are sorry for what we’ve done. We’re sorry that we took the five dollars from the money clip on the dresser; we’re sorry that we punted a golden lab puppy; we’re sorry that we didn’t try and make things better with the people that we wronged after we took the money or kicked the dog. But in order to get back to that trust we have to show we know what we did was wrong and we have to show it to the people we wronged as well as Jesus. It is going to be a moment of great humility for us, when we walk into the room with our heads down, on the verge of tears, or actually crying, and in some way, show that we know we did something bad.

Then, Jesus is going to hand us the book and tell us to keep reading. Once we’ve shown our humility and tried to make things better, our relationship with God is going to be restored. We’re going to get to enjoy our time with God and Jesus and receive things like more ice cream or awesome toys or staying up past our bedtime. Life will be good again. It will be true life full of love and trust.

But first, we’re going to have to hang our head.