We have now made it to the final days of this Lenten season. As we continue through this Holy Week, we offer you reflections each day from Wednesday through Holy Saturday, journeying the way of the cross with Jesus. We hope these meditations from writers in our community will help you slow down and reflect. Thank you for joining us these 40 days, to seek the transformative power of a God who loves us.
We hope these serve you well,
Andrew Mook + Jenny Currier
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3
Have you ever noticed that we slowly become like the people we hang around with? We might pick up their slang, their mannerisms, their laugh. That just sort of happens organically. If we are with them long enough to grow to admire different character qualities of theirs, we might try to emulate them.
In our spiritual journey on this earth, many of us have made a choice to follow Jesus, we’ve made a decision that we agree with His teachings, believe that He is who He says He is. We often look at the lists of great character qualities we find written in the Bible and take them on as “to do lists.” Our goal: to become like Jesus. For those of us who are very task or goal oriented, we can be consumed with ticking the boxes or scratching things off our mental yellow stickie tabs when we think we’ve accomplished them.
Today’s verses invite us to “consider” Jesus. Look at His life, His character, His response to people in general as well as His response to outcasts or even people who hate Him. Consider His obedience to God the Father. Consider the struggle He endured.
Considering requires a longer thought than just a quick pass-over as we hurry on to have our quiet time before heading to work.
And becoming like Jesus will not be accomplished by our will power (though a part of our will is involved). All our mental yellow stickie tabs loaded with great character qualities we hope to attain will not change us. Rather it is the longer, slower, relational route of hanging around with Jesus that will change us to be more and more like Him.
Jesus Himself shared this secret in John 15. Verse 5 says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Dear Lord, Please help me to slow down, to take time with You, to consider who You are and who I am to You. Please change me, recreate me. I want to feel Your nearness. I want to be so close to You that I start to think like You, laugh like You, love like You. Draw me closer, Lord Jesus. Amen
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35
Today, we remember the night before the day the world went dark. The night that Jesus sat down for a meal with his beloved disciples, washed their feet in an act of sacrificial love, and promised them the Holy Spirit.
He would go on to face betrayal, arrest, ridicule, mockery, torture, and crucifixion. But that mustn’t diminish the night the Son of God gave us a picture of what it looks like to lead by serving. In Jesus’ time, people walked the streets in sandals, their feet covered in dirt, dust, and animal waste. It was custom for the lowest servant in the home to wash the feet of the guests. Jesus symbolically and intentionally takes on this role and says, “I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.” For Jesus, leadership and service were (and are) synonymous.
I see this playing out like that treasured scene in a favorite movie: The chords begin to play. The lyrics seep to your bones. Somehow time halts and hastens simultaneously. And the montage of the characters we’ve come to know is woven together, and all is exactly as it should be. When I read John 13, I feel moved in that way. Jesus is being precisely who God sent him to be: one who loves, leads, speaks truth.
Later that night, at what we now know as the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples that he will only be with them a little longer. He gives a new command: “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” or “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It is from this scripture that we get the name Maundy Thursday. On it, we give thanks to the Lord who gave us this brilliant example of love, the sacred gift of Holy Communion, and the Great Counselor who dwells within us all.
So on this day, before we lament … Let us be reminded that aside from loving our God, there is nothing more important than loving one another.
He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities…He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:5,12
It’s easy to just hear the story that has been repeated into cliché – Jesus died so that we may be spared the death we deserve and receive eternal life. We are handed a pretty little invitational card that says, “Will you chose life or death?”
Many wisely RSVP “life,” but never follow up, never walk through the threshold into the party, afraid of what might be required of them inside. Stepping onto the dance floor, they risk having a fictional character as their partner, one who won’t show up to guide them in the dance when everyone is watching.
Peter follows Jesus. When ushered into the courtyard, he is stopped and questioned at the door, “Are you not one of Jesus’ disciples?”
“I am not” he replies.
Later, two more times, he again denies his true identity and allegiance.
Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews, and Jesus replies “Is that your own idea, or did others talk to you about me?”
Pilate, in a revelation of his innocence, attempts to abdicate responsibility and have the crowd decide Jesus’ fate for fear of losing face.
In this hour of darkness leading up to Jesus’ death there seems to be a heavy guise, a veil of separation that clouds the vision of the true one to be feared. We see actions guided by external notions rather than internal assurances.
So often we walk around in a posture of defense and self-protection. I can imagine stepping into a batting cage– doubling over into a fetal position, sheltering my head in anticipation of the onslaught of flying balls. Often I feel like following Jesus is stepping into that place where all that I have coming to me for my missteps and all the evil of the world will surely be fired at me, and I immediately go into self-protection mode. To move beyond the guise requires radical vulnerability. Then I slowly begin to realize I have felt no impact. I open my eyes and lift my body cautiously back to standing.
After Jesus dies, Joseph, who “ was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews,” boldly asks Pilate for Jesus’ body to give it a proper burial.
Arriving at the cross, we are gut-punched with something unexpected. We have journeyed through a hurricane of doubts, false realities, and societal opinions to the very eye of the storm, but upon arrival we are swept up in irrational calm. The stillness of grace envelops us in sanctuary. This is the space where the cross stands in a flash between all the darkness of the world and the splitting light that tore the curtain–from the top of heaven down to earth. The invitation is not to merely subsist with an assurance of life but is the beckoning of love itself to enter the innermost place where God himself dwells.
We have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body. Hebrews 10:19-20
God, in his great ache of love for his creation, made himself accessible to us through his embodiment in Jesus. This new way is not a clearing for us, a way to get off the hook for our sin, but rather it is an opening – it is through the torn fabric, his pierced body, that we enter into true life. Movement is required! We must step through the threshold into the inner sanctuary. Here we participate in his being as our body slips deeper and deeper into his. All the longings of our soul and the container that holds it are awakened in a fullness of life that comes from partnering with our creator. Here, an intimacy captures every particle of our being.
Here we are awakened to all the most pure, beautiful things that have lain under the corruptive guise of sin. Everything is recaptured for holiness, and we are made new.
At the cross we experience the shockwave of forgiveness that washes away the guise to reveal where true security and un-shifting ground lies. Jesus is the invitation to be to be divine incarnate – sons and daughters of the King of Kings. In stepping into the most holy place we assume the position of Christ, our body melding into his, our life beginning where his ended.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22
How will we know the full freedom of grace, the staggering relief in the absence of the crossfire of our deserved punishment, if we do not step out from the crowd and stand where Jesus stood? How will we test and know what is true if we rely on the models of reality constructed around us and the opinions whispered to us by outside sources? We must with our own being identify with Christ by moving our body through the torn curtain, his pierced body, and risk the sacrifice of intimacy.
A poemShe used to say she loved
those TV movies about Jesus,
but hated the crucifixion scene
even though it was toned down
in the grains of 1970s film,
palatable to the eyes of those
eating dinner in front of
a flickering screen.
This is us, now, knowing
how it all ends, knowing
in three days the lungs of God
Knowing the ending, could I
ever comprehend the blackness,
ever imagine the darkest
Saturday in history?
A King’s body shrouded in spices
and linen lay withering
The budding bloom of salvation,
Oh my God
today the sun scatters clouds
the sun that once turned away
at your final earthly breath
as the lion lay shorn and still.
May I never forget
the darkest day of history,
spring stopped, waiting,
pressing her face
at the tomb’s door.
–Jen Rose Yokel