The past month or so of 7th Grade Religion has been very focused on the Gospel accounts of the Passion of Jesus. It’s been incredible going through the four accounts together with the students, looking at the details that were unique and the ones that appeared in all four. As we started to wind down our studies, though, I realized something kind of shocking to me. Some of them didn’t seem to think it was a big deal!
Now, this is not something I’m blaming on them, but it is the reality. When I noticed it, I asked a couple of them why they weren’t blown away by the Passion, and the answers weren’t exactly clearing anything up for me. In rather normal fashion, they mostly shrugged their shoulders, said something about having heard it so many times, or made some other comment about it being a cool story. I tried to hide my shock, but I’m a teacher, not an actor.
The more I thought on it over the past days, though, I think I realized something. Actually, I think I remembered something would probably be a better way to say it. Studying Scripture, especially the Gospels, and most especially the Passion, can’t function like any other book study. It isn’t like other stories, it’s the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, given for our sake. This isn’t a part of history, this is the entire point of history!
Just like the kids in my class, I know I can make my faith just another academic pursuit. I treat it like I’m here to learn facts and information. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not here read about how some guy a couple thousand years ago was killed for no good reason. I’m not here to read about a comic book character who died only to come back from the dead miraculously.
The truth is, we are here to meet the Word of God, made known and present to us in the Word of God which is the Scriptures. If I don’t do that, then I can’t invite the kids in my class to do that. If I can’t invite the kids in my class to that encounter, not with words on a page, but with the loving God who made them in His image and likeness, suffered His Passion, and offered up His entire self – body, blood, soul, and divinity – for them on the Cross, then honestly, we’ll all just be reading another story.