We love happy endings: monster will be vanquished, the toad will be changed into a prince, Beauty’s love will transform the Beast and everyone lives happily ever after.
Ancient Greeks were master storytellers. However, there is not a single happy ending in any of their epic mythology. The Greek notion of “hero” was someone who rose to glorious heights, only to come crashing back to earth through hubris, miscalculation or betrayal. Life is wretched, short, and then you die.
Historians have suggested a story that raced rapidly around the Mediterranean in the first century-that a Jewish miracle-worker had come back to life and could supply his followers with love, grace and power – is the first happy ending in world history. No wonder people, especially servants, slaves and the underclass of the Roman Empire enthusiastically embraced it.
Not everyone has concluded that the ending of the Jesus story is believable. Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president and certainly the most intellectual of our chief executives, doubted the Bible’s accounts of miracles. Though Jefferson was a great admirer of Jesus, he took a razor to the four Jesus biographies and removed all the miracles, healings, and most hints of the supernatural, retaining the portion he felt was ethically valid, while removing any suggestion God was somehow still alive in the world. The last page says Jesus was crucified, laid in a tomb and everyone left. That’s it.
Jefferson struggled with the question: does history have a happy ending? Physicists recently confirmed the cosmos is headed for total entropy–all the stars are going to burn out; every particle will exhaust its energy; all of reality will be dark, cold, and absolutely motionless. No wonder “let’s eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” sounds like a great Plan A for this weekend and every weekend after that. If God doesn’t show up, there is no happy ending.
But if God does show up, there’s real hope for a real future – not only for the cosmos, but for each of our own lives. What’s the definition of faith? It’s embracing the grace and the power of the God who is really there, life has a happy ending. Jesus rose from the dead to prove it!
Let Him arise in your life afresh.
-Rev Dr William Lewis