What is the value of unleavened truth? That is a theme throughout Lent but especially on Easter Sunday when Christians must deal with the truth of an empty tomb. Christ paid a steep price to help people believe in His unadulterated message: love one another as I have loved you. What would you pay to experience that love?
Alex Stewart-Clark thinks $1,000 is about right. That’s what he wanted to charge to help people get the “crucifixion experience.” Stewart-Clark was raising funds to stage a production of the Passion Play at the Cathedral Gardens in England. According to BBC News, this guy got the bright idea to give donors something tangible to take away from this play (a little leavening of a perfectly unleavened account of what Jesus did for us). So, for £750 (almost $1,000), you could be hoisted up on a cross and feel a bit of the humiliation and pain that Jesus did.
Fortunately, saner minds prevailed and squashed this cockroach of an idea before it multiplied (smaller but no less disgusting offspring of this one included £25 to have dinner with Pontius Pilate or £200 to have dinner with Jesus).
One could argue that all Alex wanted to do was transform this story for the better, which is how leavening is defined. But as Paul tells the Corinthians in one of Easter Sunday’s alternate second readings (1 Cor 5:6b-8), a little yeast goes a long way.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened. For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The unleavened truth is that Christ died so that we may live. His disciples paid the same price so that we may learn from their experience. They made us witnesses to it. All that’s asked of us is to believe, as Peter tells us in Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 10:34a, 37-43):
“He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The sad unleavened truth is, many Christians in some parts of the world still pay the same steep price Christ and his disciples paid for mankind to experience salvation: their earthly lives. They arrived at the same belief Peter and “the disciple Jesus loved” did when they arrived at Jesus’ freshly abandoned tomb. But as John’s gospel account tells it (Jn 20:1-9), even those who were closest to their Master didn’t really “get” the unleavened Jesus experience until this point:
“For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
With that rising, we all get to enjoy the same experience—without going through the pain and humiliation of crucifixion. That one-time price was paid in full. Our only responsibility is a leavening fee called faith.