We’ve got two young children, both under 5, and one of the things we occasionally do together are jigsaw puzzles. Not 1000 piece jigsaws, or those Impossipuzzles, but simple children’s jigsaws. And it can be hilarious or frustrating – depending on your perspective! – to watch small children try and do a jigsaw. Sometimes they get the right piece to the right place, but just can’t quite match it up properly and fit in place. Other times, they are way off the mark and as a parent you try and help them. You’ll say ‘turn it around’ and rather than turning it clockwise they will flip it over so you get the back of the puzzle. You’ll point to another piece and say ‘try that one’ and they’ll pick it up but then try and put it somewhere totally different. As a parent, you need patience, and you have to resist the temptation to just do it for them!
In the Bible, John’s Gospel is a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle. There are seven different pieces called ‘signs’ that help us grasp who Jesus really is. There’s Jesus turning water into wine; feeding the 5000; and walking on water. There are three healing signs, and even Jesus raising Lazarus back to life again. If we put all these pieces together, what do we see?
We see that in Jesus, God Himself has come to us. We see the phenomenal love of God for humanity, a love that is so incredibly for us in every way. We also see that the signs are like the seven days of creation at the start of the Bible. They show us that in Jesus, God is creating a new world for us: where the brokenness, tears, suffering and pain of this world will be no more. As we think about Coronavirus and cancer, injustice and inequality, divisions and death, this can only be a good thing.
But there’s one final piece to our jigsaw: an eighth piece, a piece that brings together all of the other pieces. It’s what we remember over Easter. It’s that in Jesus, God has laid down His life for us. In this single act of sacrifice, we see the remarkable generosity and abundance of God, glimpsed in the water that became wine and the packed lunch that fed thousands, go even further. When Jesus died, all of our sin, our brokenness, our mess – everything that separates us from God – died with Him. Our pasts were wiped clean, our futures made secure. As Jesus paid the price we should have paid, we see without doubt that we are embraced and loved, forgiven and transformed by our glorious Father God. We are welcomed back into the relationship with God we were made for – a relationship that starts now but goes on forever.
The question is: how will we respond? Will we receive the gift of Jesus – a gift far richer than any Easter egg? And will we give our lives back to Him, lives lost in wonder, love and praise – or not?
Rev Matt Stone, Minister of Herringthorpe URC, Rotherham