27th March 2021
...And it is a struggle...
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday;
the crowd abruptly turns in less than a week
from welcoming Jesus as Messiah
to rage-filled demands for him to be crucified.
The disciples move from
proudly marching at his side
through the streets of Jerusalem
slinking away in stomach-clenching fear,
insisting they don't know who he is.
Where are we going to be in all this?
Holy Week, which begins tomorrow,
is our opportunity to immerse ourselves
in the move from the false joy of Palm Sunday;
a joy that is centred around expectations
of power and reward;
through the pain of finding that our faith
is often so weak when Jesus needs us the most;
finally, to the deep and profound joy
of the day of Resurrection,
the day of forgiveness and new life.
We have the opportunity to walk with Jesus
in real time as the time runs out,
as he struggles with the knowledge
that he has less than a week to live.
And it is a struggle.
In the gospel for Monday in Holy Week,
Jesus has his last meal at the home
of his dear friends Mary, Martha and Lazarus.
Maybe Jesus needed to see Lazarus alive,
talking and eating and laughing.
Maybe his human side needed to reaffirm
the evidence of his own eyes that someone
can die and come back to life.
It is here that he comes face to face with
the reality of his death as he is anointed by Mary.
On Tuesday of Holy Week,
Jesus' struggle with his approaching death continues.
As he is talking with his disciples,
we can feel the conflict within Jesus,
his divine conviction of what he has to do,
warring with his human fear.
The gospel for Wednesday in Holy Week
takes the spiritual crisis to the next level.
For the first time,
Jesus addresses not just death but betrayal.
St. Matthew's gospel tells us,
Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
21 And while they were eating, he said,
"Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me."
The reason betrayal hurts so much
is because it has to come from someone you know and love.
A stranger cannot betray you.
Someone who hates you and always has,
cannot betray you.
And the only thing worse than being betrayed
is being the betrayer ourselves,
finding out that we are not the people
we thought we were.
On Maundy Thursday
we are back with St John's Gospel in the Upper room
and have gathered for the Passover meal,
seeing Jesus wash the disciple's feet
and hear the New Commandment.
Then out to Gethsemane,
to betrayal and condemnation.
By Friday morning
control of the situation is lost complete.
We suddenly find ourselves stumbling along
with the crowds toward Golgotha.
There is a numb sense of disbelief as we watch
him being nailed to the cross.
As every minute passes,
we are certain that this is the moment Jesus
will unleash the power within him,
the power we have seen again and again to heal people,
allow him to walk on water,
feed 5,000 with a few loaves and fish.
Each second we're sure now,
now is when he will stop this cruel drama,
come down from the cross and save himself.
But nothing happens.
Jesus simply lets his life bleed away,
growing weaker and weaker until he seems
to prove that he's given up on himself
and on God the Father.
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
It is the terrible risk that we take,
by committing to walk with Jesus through Holy Week -
our hearts can be torn in two by this experience.
So today we make a choice.
We can choose to be present with Jesus
as his disciples throughout this week,
or we can hide away,
unwilling to let our composure be torn in two
with the temple curtain.
The only tools we need are the scriptures
and open hearts to make this journey with Jesus.
Like Jesus, our fear, our sin, our grief
and our illusions about ourselves
have less than a week to live.
Let's spend that week with Jesus.
It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'My Jesus, my Saviour'
sung by Darlene Zschech
via the link shown below.