I’ve wanted to do one of these daily prompt posts ever since I started this blog – sometimes I look at it, write a few lines, hit a roadblock, and delete everything. Well today is different; I’m going to write about this one. The word today is “premonition”. Now, I won’t try to pretend that I saw that word and immediately knew exactly what it meant. It’s one of those words that if I were to see it in a book or an article, I could probably piece together its meaning based on context clues, but by itself, it left sort of a vague, half-baked understanding from some foggy fifth-grade root-word lessons. Needless to say, I opened a new tab and looked up the definition which reads, “a strong feeling that something is about to happen, especially something unpleasant.”
“Well,” I thought to myself, “this is certainly a light and pleasant topic about which I have resolved to write today.” As I continued to think about what I could say about this topic, I supposed that the obvious direction I should go with it was to describe the impending arduousness of the season of Lent. A fine choice, but the timing seemed a little off – already nearly two weeks into it, the premonition toward Lent has past. A better topic, and one that is more pertinent in my opinion, is the premonition of Good Friday: the not-so-good-seeming crucifixion of Christ.
As a kid, I had always wondered why Jesus was crucified. Why couldn’t he have fought back against those Roman soldiers or told the people who condemned him that they were unjust? How could he just take it like that? Of course, those are very simplistic and childish questions and they really miss the deeper meaning of it all, but still, every year, I get the same feeling as I reluctantly shout, “Crucify him, crucify him!” in the Good Friday ceremony – I have a premonition of what “we” are about to “do” to the one whom I know is the spotless victim condemned unjustly despite his innocence.
Jesus himself had premonition of his death; of course he knew what was coming all along and even reprimanded his disciples when they wanted to stop it (Matthew 16:22-23). When it came time for his betrayal, he prayed to the Father (three times!) to let that bitter cup pass from him without him drinking it. He knew what was to come and was already suffering from it. However, this premonition was not directed toward the physical pain he would endure, it was directed to his having to endure the totality of every agony of humanity. It was directed toward his having to become all sin, he who was sinless and without fault. Ultimately, the Crucifixion was an act of love. Though Jesus had premonition of his agony, that wasn’t the end of the story; there wasn’t only Good Friday, Easter comes, and on the on the third day, Christ is raised.
In this context, I see premonition as having two sides, but only one of those sides is contained within the definition. Yes, premonition gives one a sense of anxiety, and certainly there was, and is still, anxiety about the Passion of Christ; but what the definition does not capture is the hope given to Christians though the promise of the Resurrection: the “other side” of the definition, if you will. Without the Passion, there can be no Resurrection; without despair, there can be no true hope (Thanks, Bane); without anxiety, there can be no rest; without premonition, there can be no revelation of peace.
The point of the Christian existence is to experience life’s triumphs and defeats, and to have premonition of suffering, but to do so with Christ so that in the end, we may share in the joy of his Resurrection. For us, this statement is premonitory (I had to look that one up) of our own cross, but it also gives us hope in the fact that in dying to ourselves, we are born to eternal life. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We cannot skip the cross on our way to perfect union with God.