Three years ago I watched a TED Talk by a woman named Janine Shepherd called “A broken body isn’t a broken person.” An Australian cross-country skier heading for the 1986 Olympics when, on a training bike ride, she was struck by a truck and left with a broken back and neck. Her doctors did not expect her to survive and if, by some miracle, she did, she would never walk again.
Against all odds, she survived. And against even further odds, she learned to walk again.
Her story is inspiring. I’m simplifying it, but her story leads to the recognition that despite the fact her body is limited, her spirit is unstoppable, and that saved her life.
Her story brings my heart to Holy Week and the path Jesus walked during his last week. How foreign it must have seemed to the disciples that Jesus “…took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me,’” (Luke 22:19).
A broken body is a broken person, right? Maybe. But Christ turns the narrative of humanity on its head. A broken body changed the world and continues to change my life. Turning the rules upside down is something that he does throughout his ministry. John 13 tells us how Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. Jesus, the King, “began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him,” (John 13:5, 16). The least became greatest, the last first, the humble lifted, and the Savior servant.
What Christ shows me on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday is that I am not my body. I do not imagine it was his dream to be crucified – can you imagine choosing that path? – but by giving up his body, Christ paved the way for a new dream, a new life, for anyone who chooses him. His broken body is not a broken person because his power does not come from his body, but from his spirit. It is a triumph for grace, mercy, and an offer of wholeness.
This bodily sacrifice allowed the promise of the gospel to be sealed. Our bodies may break, our spirits falter, but the hope of Christ remains.
Katie McRoberts, Editor-in-Chief