Lover’s Leap for Joy?

Lover's Leap

Lovers' Leap Image by aeu04117 via Flickr

In this country’s mountainous regions there are many locations dubbed “Lovers’ Leap”. They all have associated legends, many involving Native Americans, and with variations on the “Romeo and Juliet” theme. (Perhaps there is a Lovers’ Leap legend in Great Britain and that’s where Shakespeare got the idea.) One legend in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has a white settler and the Chief’s daughter falling in love. After much scorn and exclusion from both families, the couple embraced and plummeted to their death to be together forever. Another location has a closer sequence to “Romeo and Juliet” – the two lovers were from different tribes, and members of the maiden’s tribe attacked the brave and left him for dead at the top of a cliff. The maiden found him, and thinking he was dead, she jumped off. When he awoke and discovered what had happened, he threw himself over to be with her.

Jesus’ refers to a different type of Lover’s Leap in the sixth chapter of the Book of Luke:

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23 ESV.

The reactions Jesus describes are also those associated with the Lovers’ Leap legends: scorn, exclusion, and hatred. The legends end in tragedy, yet Jesus tells us instead of jumping off a cliff, we should respond with a leap for joy.

That is humanly hard to grasp. We can understand the leap for joy made by those who had been physically crippled their whole life and were miraculously healed by Jesus (and Peter and Paul). However, in this passage, Jesus says we are blessed if we’re treated like the ill-fated lovers of the legends. That doesn’t sound like a miracle – or does it?

The critical phrase in Jesus’ statement is the requirement that our suffering be “on account of the Son of Man”. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “what glory is it” if we’re hated and scorned because we’re hateful and scornful ourselves? No, our enduring this type of suffering is “acceptable to God” and we can leap for joy only because of whom we love: Jesus Christ.

And what’s the miracle behind this lover’s leap for joy?

We love Him, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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This post is part of the Christian Writers blog chain. Our theme for this month is “Leap”. Please see the list to the right and visit my friends’ blogs to see what they have to say about this topic.