“Calvary is Judo. The enemy’s own power is used to defeat him. Satan’s craftily orchestrated plot, rolled along according to plan by his agents Judas, Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas, culminated in the death of God. And this very event, Satan’s conclusion, was God’s premise. Satan’s end was God’s means. “
Peter Kreeft, 1986
I am on my second Lenten season of reading through Bread and Wine, an incredible collection of writings by ancient and modern Christian writers, philosophers, activists, theologians, and leaders. I am in love with my mornings of directed readings. The book is broken up into six sections: Invitation, Temptation, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and New Life. It has 72 articles, and I am slightly behind because I usually marinate on one article a day. 72>40, so I need to step it up, but I feel that I am drinking from a fire hydrant as I soak up the wisdom of those who know a heck of a lot more than I do.
The quote is an excerpt from today’s reading, and I have always found something wonderfully exhilarating about what Kreeft terms “Christian Judo.” Jesus remarkably used the enemy’s power against him, in that he willingly stepped in as the passover Lamb, wielding the keys to the kingdom. This is the hope that surfaces when it seems that all hope is lost. This is the shift that I had the privilege of experiencing in the heart of my three-year-old as we watched Aslan willingly lie down on the stone table as the ice queen slaughtered him in the Disney rendition of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I told my daughter ahead of time not to worry, that Aslan would come back to life and “save the day.” She can watch any movie as long as she knows that the good guy will save the day in the end. Can’t we all?
In the depth of the dark night of Aslan’s slaughter, as Lucy and Susan were weeping into the shaved, cooling skin of their murdered beloved Aslan, Lily sought reassurance. “Mommy, you said that he would save the day. When will he? Are you sure?”
I responded, “Wait for the sun to rise, sweetie. The stone table will break, and he will be alive again to save the day.”
Her anticipation was palpable. My daughter was longing for Aslan to cancel out the evil magic that had rendered him the lamb to be slaughtered on Edmund’s behalf.
We both exhaled sighs of elation and relief as we saw Aslan’s profile rise over the stone tablet with the rising sun. This was Lily’s first portrait of kingdom judo. And this is the beginning of perfect love casting out fear for my three-year-old.
The enemy’s power is used to defeat him. Not only is the enemy defeated, but his own efforts to destroy us are thrown back in his face as the means by which our redemption is made possible. Only God can do that. It is the greatest twist in the history of time. The death that the enemy thought would undo all of God’s plan was actually the death that opened up the opportunity for death to be crushed and turned on it’s head. This is the fragrant essence of hope. This is why we hope. In our seasons of death, we rejoice, because we know kingdom Judo. God’s secret weapon, His trump card, is always safe in His hand, and He will play it when the enemy is finished with all of his moves and thinks arrogantly that he has won the game.
This sickness, these shortcomings, and these areas of brokenness are indeed the undoing of me. And in this undoing, I am made whole because the ends becomes the means to God’s redemptive, overarching stunning plan of life destroying death. We don’t have all the answers, but we have the final answer. Life wins. Death dies. The love that surrenders to death actually releases the power that dethrones death. No fear is needed. Fear is negated and made obsolete.
We can exhale the fear of death’s finality when we see the cresting of our King on Sunday morning as He pulls out His trump card, His deeper magic, and says, “See? I hold the keys to life and death. Why were you afraid, beloved?”
And I sigh with my daughter, able to freely take a deep breath for the first time, releasing it in trust of a Lord who breathes life into death, into me.