I’ve always had a soft spot for the corroboree frog, but I never expected I would be compared to one. In a recent article in the Canberra Times it was suggested I have much in common with the tiny yellow and black striped amphibian. Drawing on Census data the writer opined ‘I no longer get as intellectual a buzz from teasing Christians and in any case increasingly think of them as a critically endangered ACT species and so, like the worryingly-endangered northern corroboree frog, deserving of our concerned kindness’. I imagine readers outside the ACT would be invited to substitute their location and endangered species of choice. Anyone up for being compared to a hairy-nosed wombat?
On a more serious note, the issue of how to respond faithfully to a feeling of danger or endangerment is central to the account of the first Easter. In John 20:19-23 we encounter the disciples huddled behind locked doors out of fear. No doubt their fear had two causes. First, there was the threat that the physical violence visited on Jesus might be directed towards them. Second, there was the more vague discomfort that comes from being a minority, perhaps misunderstood and marginalised by the broader society. Such fears can drive us to fight – to strike back, or to flight – to withdraw and hide.
When the Risen Jesus appears in their midst it’s striking what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t challenge the statistics to convince them they really are in the majority or give them a strategy to take back influence and power. Instead he gives them three gifts.
First, there is a word of blessing. ‘Peace be with you.’ Peace with God and with each other is not something for which they or we have to fight. It is something bestowed by Jesus, the fruit of his ministry on our behalf and in our place.
Second, there is a re-assuring sight. He shows them his wounded hands and side. The very marks of human spite are now the means by which He assures them of his risen, bodily glory.
Third, there is a commission and an accompanying promise. ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ He then breathes on them and tells them that through their words and witness sins will be forgiven. Instead of fleeing from the world they are to go into the world, trusting the Father’s provision and direction even as Jesus did.
I said earlier that I’ve always had a soft spot for the corroboree frog. Something about its resilience and persistence has always fascinated me. It seems I’m not the only one. According to the website www. taronga.org.au/animals/corroboree-frog they ‘are Australia’s most iconic amphibian species and amongst the most visually spectacular frogs in the world’ and ‘catching a glimpse of these stunning creatures is a rare and exciting occurrence’.
This Easter may God enable you to show your stripes and so bear witness to the Risen Lord Jesus, God’s ever-stunning icon of grace.