For her eighth grade English class, my daughter is currently reading one of my all-time favorite books. I won’t tell you the title for fear of spoiling it for anyone, but she knows how much I love the book and was excited to bring it home and tell me she had begun reading it. She was only a chapter or two in when it—the thing she almost always does—started…
Her: “Why did so-and-so do such-and-such?”
Me: “Read the book.”
Her: “When do we meet so-and-so?”
Me: “Read. The. Book.”
Her: “Does so-and-so die? What about so-and-so? Please tell me so-and-so lives!”
Me: “READ THE BOOK!”
Her (skips to the end and reads the last chapter): “They ALL die?! Why am I even reading this?!”
Me (exasperated): “Yes! Almost everyone dies. It’s set in Germany in WWII, for Pete’s sake! Now, just read the rest of the darn book!”
This is also the child who we threaten to kick out of family movie nights because she talks the ENTIRE time. “Who’s that character?” “Watch the movie, and you’ll find out.” “Why did he just do that?” “Watch. The. Movie….I’m sure they’ll explain it!” “Where are they going?” “Oh my word, girl, stop talking, or you are going to have to leave the room!”
Seriously, she’s no fun to watch movies with, but I kind of understand why she acts this way—I think she just wants to know what happens before it happens so that she can relax and enjoy the process more. Aren’t we all like that in certain situations? We want to know how to prepare ourselves for what’s to come—or whether something is even worth going through in the first place. We want to know if a dental procedure is going to hurt because, if it’s not, there’s no need in getting all worried and worked up over it. We want to know if the movie is sad at the end so we can bring tissues. (Or, we want to know if it’s even worth seeing at all, so we don’t waste our money on it if it’s not!) I admit that, sometimes, I will read through an entire movie’s plot online because I want to know what happens but don’t actually want to see the movie itself. (Usually, I do that with horror movies because I kind of want to see what the hype’s about, but I hate to be scared and can’t stand watching the gore!)
These days, it seems “spoilers” are everywhere. If you don’t watch a movie or a TV show episode right when it comes out, you may have to avoid social media if you don’t want to know the “surprise twist” ahead of time. There are some thoughtful folks out there who will announce “SPOILER ALERT” at the start of their post, though, so you can skip it if you don’t want to know. Thankfully, on the Goodreads app, a book review can be hidden if it contains spoilers, and a reader has to click on a special link if they want to read that review. Last weekend, my husband had recorded the Masters golf tournament and was watching it on delay when a news update came across his phone announcing that Tiger Woods had just won. I heard a big groan from the basement and knew immediately that the ending had been spoiled for him.
Some people, like my daughter, want to read the last chapter first and know the ending ahead of time. Others, like my husband and me, want to wait it out and find out at the appropriate time. Sometimes, though, even for people like us, it’s good to know in advance how things are going to work out. Jesus knew this, so even He gave his disciples some “spoilers”:
“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead” (Matthew 16:21 NLT).
Like my daughter, who wasn’t having it that the characters all die at the end of her book, Peter didn’t want to accept this news and “began to reprimand [Jesus] for saying such things…” (v. 22). Jesus then said to Peter, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (v. 23). Like a typical “kid,” I’m guessing Peter only heard half of what “Dad” said. I’m betting he only heard, “Hey guys, I’m going to die,” and not, “…BUT, I will come back three days later.” (The Bible even tells us in the other Gospels that the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying when He told them this same thing a second and third time.) Not to downplay the death and resurrection of Christ, mind you, but this is kind of like my daughter focusing too much on the coming deaths of her favorite characters in the book and not on the fact that it’s a really good piece of literature and worth reading to the end. And when it comes to Jesus’ death, it’s the second part—the rising again on the third day part—that we really need to pay attention to!
As much as the reader would (most likely) want them to live, to the author of my daughter’s book, the characters all (well, except for a small handful) have to die in the end to serve the purpose of the story. The same goes with the Author of another Book. Jesus had to die to serve the purpose of our story—that is, to save us from our sins so that we can live with Him for all eternity. It’s not really a spoiler to us because it’s already happened and most of us already know the story, but…He rose again! The tomb was empty! The disciples were told this but didn’t understand because it hadn’t happened yet, but we can relax because we know the ending of the story. Oh, and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read the rest of the Book: He’s coming back again! (Seriously, this time, it’s okay to read the last “chapter” (i.e., Revelation). Skip ahead, if you want; I’m okay with it.)
Jesus told His disciples that He would have to die but that He would rise again. And He tells them (and us!) that “…I am going to prepare a place for you…. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2b-3). That’s where He is right now—preparing a place just for us! We see in Revelation that “He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him—even those who pierced him…” (1:7a). Jesus will return again at a later time and defeat the evil one. It’s right there—at the end of the Book!
Even though I don’t like to read the last pages of a book or know a movie ending ahead of time, this is one spoiler I don’t mind knowing. No matter what evil or suffering there is in the world right now, we know that Jesus wins in the end! And if we believe in Him and that He died to save us from our sins, we are victorious with Him and will live with Him for all eternity! I like knowing that even when my time on this earth ends—no matter what happens in the middle chapters—I have a glorious eternity to look forward to.
As we remember Jesus’ death and resurrection today, on Easter Sunday, let’s be glad of the “spoiler alerts” that the tomb was empty and that He is coming again! Hallelujah!
So, go ahead, READ THE BOOK! Find out the ending. It’s a good one!
Happy Easter! He is Risen Indeed!