Holy Week Reflections
— Andy Wade —
“Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:12-13
This week we remember Jesus, caught in a web of conspiracy and injustice, facing it head on, speaking truth, and defeating it on the cross. This same Jesus tells us, “Take up your cross daily and follow me.” How will we take up that challenge today? Where, in our neighborhood, city, and world do we see injustice and how are we confronting it with both the tenacity and love of Christ?
Jesus wades into the middle of a political debate. The religious elites have stirred up the crowds against his message of a Kingdom very different from the power struggles and political-religious compromises of his day. It all seemed scandalous, even a threat, to the popular message of those leaders. Even as Jesus is whipped, some of those leaders are out in the crowd, whipping them into a frenzy. Not a frenzy of seeking God, but rather seeking what appears “right” and “best” in the eyes of those in power. Just a few days earlier, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, he wept over the city, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Lk. 19:42)
Uncertainty swirled in the air. Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea, coming to the seat of religious power, to the neighborhood of those who seek to destroy you. But there they sat. A sacred meal hosted by the Prince of Peace. Their teacher, leader, takes a basin and towel and washes their feet, even the feet of the one who would soon betray him. Where am I in this story? Outside consolidating my power? A politician manipulated by others? Or am I inside, embarrassed, confused, as to why my lord would be taking the role of a servant? Maybe I’m one of those whose mommy had secretly lobbied on my behalf for a seat of power – or among those who found out and now campaign on my own behalf. Or are my insides churning, experiencing this act of love, of grace, knowing that I’ve already made plans to betray him into the hands of the enemy? Who am I in this story? Who will I be when the story is completed?
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Like old milk on a warm summer day, those shouts have turned sour. “Crucify him!” This is the newest chant of the masses. A fickle and confused bunch now demands the release of a known “terrorist” in exchange for the death of an innocent man. Such are the ways of those in power, stirring honey into hemlock until it tastes sweet on the lips. Before this day ends Jesus will be abandoned by even his closest companions. I know where I am in this story and I don’t like it. I long for the glory days of casting out demons, healing the sick and raising the dead! From a “safe” distance I stand, watching in silence. “Who will be our Savior now?”
A day of silence. Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ closest companions on this day? All our hopes and dreams wrapped in clothes soaked in myrrh and frankincense and sealed behind a stone. The darkness in that tomb mimicking the darkness in my soul. How did this happen? Where did we go wrong? The scene of the previous day plays over and over in my mind. Searching for clues, for some bit of insight, but all I find is pain and confusion. My heart is not ready to let go yet my mind can’t make sense of all that has taken place. Did Jesus really say he must die? I wrote that off as some kind of metaphor. Surely he wasn’t serious! What else did he say? Is there some hidden purpose to all that’s gone on? Fearful, I huddle with the others, hiding, waiting, for who knows what…