REFLECTION FOR HOLY WEEK
The Gospel text of Jesus passion – which we will explore this week, in our Maundy Thursday and in our Good Friday services, is a moving narrative with all of the elements of powerful drama. After all, Jesus is the object of a sinister plot involving betrayal and murder. The woman who later anoints him at Bethany demonstrates the devotion of his disciples. Jesus transforms the traditional Passover meal into the sacred mystery of the Lord’s Supper. Christ is the only character in this drama who fully understands the plot and has already anticipated the ending.
It is a drama in which you might find yourself. The question is, which character are you?
I. There Are Those Who Deny Their Faith Because of Fear
Peter thought that he would never betray Jesus, but he discounted his own fear. His actions betrayed his true belief. Peter feared judgment by the Sanhedrin or the Romans more than judgment by God.
Fear is our greatest enemy. It keeps us from sharing fully of what we have. We are afraid that we will not have enough if we give some away. Or we are afraid that someone, some “friend” or acquaintance, will turn away.
Fear robs us of the power God brings to our life. When we live by faith, we can do all things through Christ. When we live in fear, our timidity robs us and others of the blessing of faithful living.
II. There Are Those Who Will Only Accept God on Their Terms
Fear is involved here, as well. Fear of change. Fear of God acting in new and different ways. Fear of things not being the way they have always been. Fear of life not being predictable. Fear of being challenged to grow and mature. Fear of being moved outside our comfort zone.
Judas had other expectations of Jesus. Judas’ frustration and disappointment led him to betray the one for whom he had been waiting. Judas wanted the messiah to come on his (Judas’) own terms.
Most of the Pharisees, Sadducees, and those of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish Council) looked for a messiah who believed as they did. They expected God to meet their criteria. God’s kingdom needed to fit their mold of what was law. Though convinced that they were right, they would prudently wait until after the festival to make their move. After all, they did not want a riot on their hands (JC Superstar). (“Tell the rabble to be quiet we anticipate a riot, this common crowd, is much too loud…”)
III. There Are Those Unwilling to Accept the Radical Nature of the Kingdom of God
Here’s the thing - Christianity can never be faith on our own terms. It is not about building the church as we like it, but it is about building the kingdom as God desires. When we insist on being in control, we are unable to give God the control.
Some people saw Jesus as someone to save them from tyranny and oppression. For them he was a miracle worker and a mystical prophet. He awed them, and they shouted, “Hosanna!”
Some people saw Jesus as a threat to established religion, a manipulator of men and women, and a purveyor of trickery. They shouted, “Crucify him!”
Today, some people see Jesus the way they see the church: with skepticism. Some folks wonder if Jesus can really do anything to save them from injustice, poverty, or a lifestyle of unhappiness.
Some people see Jesus as a good-luck charm. Christ is a “Saint Christopher medal,” which not only protects, but saves us from sin.
Some people see Jesus as a demanding Lord whose expectations are great and whose love we must earn. The notion of grace is foreign to these folks.
Some people see Jesus as the Son of God, a friend and companion, a Savior, Redeemer and Lord who is worthy of a lifetime of commitment.
The question is: Which one are you?