“And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God; And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.
And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”
Luke 23:50, 51, 53-56 NASB
Emotionally, the disciples needed a sabbath. As much as they had been through in the past 24 hours, their hearts were shattered. Minds numb, bodies exhausted from crying, they sat around in different corners of the room doing what all of us do when we mourn. They cried. They stated blankly at the wall. They tried to remember through the events and sift for clues to see what they could have done differently. They blamed themselves, they blamed others. They especially blamed Judas.
But for all their talk and ‘what if’s’ they still weren’t listening to the words Jesus had spoken to them.
Sure, they remembered His claims that He would be handed over and executed, but that never seemed right. Maybe He was just being dramatic or speaking in metaphors again. But it really happened. He was dead. Wrapped up, sealed away in the ground. Dead.
He had been the One to disrupt funerals and raise the dead. But never anything like this…
‘I guess I get my boat out of dry dock and start fishing again.’
‘Maybe I can start back at the tax office.’
‘I hope my father-in-law has a job for me.’
Friday night turns into Saturday morning and someone finally realizes they haven’t eaten since the Passover meal. Not really hungry, but not knowing what else to do, they share some matzah and cold lamb. They weren’t supposed to leave any of it after the meal, but Jesus didn’t even drink the fourth cup, they never finished the Seder…
‘I guess we jut wait until the coast is clear and we all head home.’
‘Yeah, whatever “home” means now…’
‘I know, nothing’s ever going to feel right anymore.’
And so they waited.
And we wait, too.
As Dr. Campolo is famous for saying (among other things),
“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”
“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.”
“When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.”
Matthew 27:1, 2, 12-14 NIV
With every year that passes, it becomes that much easier to feel the quick passage of time. Days and weeks zip by, I blink and a month has passed, and I’m just in my late 30’s. When, Lord willing, I reach my 60’s and beyond, I’m imagining it must almost be a blur.
Be then there are days, that for good or bad reasons, seem to stretch on forever. Anticipation of a celebration or of seemingly bad news or even times to mourn can take one of our light-speed days and drag it out into eternity.
When Jesus and His disciples were making their way into Jerusalem on what we call Maundy Thursday, I wonder how long that walk took in His mind. When He was approaching the gates of the Holy City, I wonder if He looked off toward the direction of Golgotha and felt compelled to rub His wrists and forehead. I wonder if the chatter of His disciples faded into so much garbled mumbling as His mind ran through prophecies and the nature of the Roman’s brutality. Did He look at their smiles and hear the joy in the people flooding into the city and find Himself pleasantly distracted for a few moments?
What was Thursday like?
Did He have that feeling in the pit of His stomach that we all get when we know we are waiting for punishment? Was He already beginning to feel that for us? Was this day full of tangible reminders of joy and pain? Did He see legitimate and sincere worshipers mixed in among the disgruntled and greedy? Did He think about how worship was supposed to be, and how The Father longed to be close to His children? Did He see the sneers of the doubters and the haughty glances of the proud and the injustices done to the poor as He walked those streets that morning? Did He pick our the roads and pathways that He would carry His cross down, anticipating difficult stretches and tight passageways?
What was Thursday like?
Was it this full day being confronted with the mass of humanity in this one city that drove it all home for Him? When He would say, “I am sorrowful to the point of death.” Were the events of the day and the faces He saw still fresh in His mind?
When day turned into night and they began the Passover meal, and He finally sat down to this last Passover with His friends, and He said, “I have greatly anticipated this Passover meal.” Was that because it meant that Thursday was finally almost over? Were the strands of His mind, threads of love, justice, anticipation, grace, hope, prophecy, truth, were they all streaming around all simultaneously present and noticed yet difficult to grasp?
What was Thursday like?
To assume He walked through the day like a passive observer, indifferent to the crowds and the weather and the noises and smells, that He wasn’t affected by the events of the coming days and that He was some stoic, unfeeling wall…that denies the man in Him, and to say He didn’t care denies the divine in Him.
As the meal ends, feet washed and Judas long gone, and they make their way to the garden to pray and as the darkness of night sinks in, I still wonder, what was Thursday like?
Because we get a full picture, in Technicolor and CinemaScope of what Friday brings. Because by the time He reaches Pilate, we can see that He is focused, He is now in the midst of events that all of human history had been leading up to, and love guides Him, mercy steers Him and grace propels Him forward. And as terrible as Good Friday is, we all who stand with Him stand thankful, appreciative and amazed at grace.
This Thursday, today, let the events of Christ’s Thursday dwell in your mind, anticipating what tomorrow brings, and GoLove as you have been so richly loved.
“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ”
So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.”
Matthew 26:17-19 NIV
Just like He had prearranged the donkey for the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus also had someone in mind to serve as host for the Passover meal. This room was not chosen at random, this household wasn’t picked like a drawn straw.
When God, in His will and in His timing, desires to use someone to accomplish His purpose, He uses the person who has made themselves available, whose heart is ready to hear what it is He has to say. Here, the family that hosts Jesus and His disciples, we find a household that is willing, ready to serve and be available. I doubt this was the home of one of the scribes or Pharisees that was constantly trying to work against Jesus and catch Him healing on the Sabbath or trying to twist words into clever riddles to attempt to throw Him off.
No. This is a willing household. These are willing hearts.
This simple formula is really all that is required for the handiwork of God to take place. As we seek the Kingdom daily, our hola is to simply stand as willing vessels everyday in whatever place He chooses to use us. That our hearts would be available to listen so our mouths would speak and our hands would serve in Hs timing, in His way.
Willingness took Moses to Egypt from the burning bush. Willingness took Elisha to the home of the widow and her son. Willingness took David’s heart and kept him from killing Saul. Willingness drove the 12 disciples of Jesus all over the world from Italy to India and deep into Africa to share the Good News. Willingness is the marker of a humble heart and a humble heart is the one that best serves God because it is willing to step aside that God may be glorified above all.
Opening your home for Jesus may just be the beginning. Showing the endless love that you have been shown, pointing the way toward God through actions, words and sincerity all serve as witness to the One who has given us that glorious commissioning to GoLove in His precious Name.