John 13:33 (NRSV)
Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’
Yesterday was Palm Sunday. The children at our church paraded up and down the aisles, waving their palms happily as we sang our praises. We remembered how Jesus was triumphantly welcomed into Jerusalem with “Hosannas” and waving palm branches from adoring crowds. When I was a child, Palm Sunday was such a celebratory day- and it seemed to me that the party continued with Easter the next week.
Then I remember hearing that Jesus died on a cross somewhere in between those two parties. But in my child’s mind I thought that since Jesus was God’s son, he was able to endure such a terrible thing because he had superpowers. And of course, I knew that if I had been there, I would never have denied him, or punished him, or wanted him dead.
But now I know the rest of the story. Now I know that it wasn’t one continuous party from Palm Sunday to Easter. Now I know that the very man God sent to show us how much God loved us- and how abundantly we could live in the knowledge of that love- was denied, condemned, tortured and killed. The worst part is that now I know I wouldn’t have done anything to stop it.
Our Lenten focus for today is accompanying. As we go through this Holy Week, let’s go with Jesus. Let’s accompany Jesus as we revisit the events in which he agonized deeply, endured painfully, and surrendered completely. Let’s not jump from one party to the next. Let’s take time to consider how we would have reacted or felt if we had been there with him. Although we can never fully comprehend his terrible journey, let’s imagine ourselves with him… from his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples, to his washing of their feet, to his praying in the garden, to his trial, to his suffering, and finally to the cross and tomb.
Our reminder symbol is a sandal. May it encourage us to walk this Holy Week journey again with Jesus. May we recall with grief and humble gratitude everything he endured… before we celebrate his glorious resurrection.
You told your disciples, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” I know that I cannot fully comprehend the journey you have taken. But my heart longs to accompany you through it all. Open my heart this week, that I may be more fully aware of everything you endured. For me. Amen.