THE ‘LET’ OF JESUS IN HOLY WEEK
Maundy Thursday, April 1st
Read Mark 14:32-50.
Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.
Mark 14:42 (NRSV)
Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.
But let the scriptures be fulfilled.
Mark 14:49 (NRSV)
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”
John 18:8 (NRSV)
Yesterday we sadly remembered the inner turmoil and anguish that Jesus felt during his last days. Today we again find that, despite his deep fears and grief, he remains determined to continue. Just after Jesus prays in Gethsemane, he awakens his sleeping disciples to say, “Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” And we find Judas is there with the crowd to take him away. Jesus could have easily left the disciples sleeping and slipped away in the darkness. Instead, he chose to stay. With every step, he persisted in moving ever closer to the cross.
When the crowd then arrests Jesus, he tells them, “Day after day I was in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” Jesus knew that terrible pain and suffering were to come, but he persisted in remaining true to his deeper purpose.
In John’s writing of Jesus’s arrest, he includes a brief conversation between Jesus and the soldiers. Jesus asks the crowd whom they are looking for, and when they reply, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus responds, “I am he.” He then admonishes them to let his friends go. Jesus persisted in taking full responsibility and by keeping his words, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me,” in his prayer to God moments earlier (John 17:12).
The Merriam- Webster definition of ‘persist’ includes two interesting perspectives: to go on resolutely or stubbornly in spite of opposition, importunity, or warning; (and) to remain unchanged or fixed in a specified character, condition, or position.
It seems to me that Jesus was able to “go on resolutely… in spite of” because he “remained unchanged in character…” Jesus was determined to continue because he could do no less. Jesus was able to remain courageous and faithful, hold true to his purpose and mission, take sole responsibility for the safety of his disciples, and continue this way until his death, because he held fast to his identity in God. To do anything less than remaining who he was, knowing what he stood for, and living (and dying) with integrity of the character of God, was not an option for Jesus.
There have been other faithful martyrs who persisted in living a life of steadfast faith. Even as they faced death, these courageous people never wavered from their integrity and purpose in God. They lost their lives, but they never lost their identity. That is a challenging but worthy invitation for us today. May we become so deeply grounded in God that nothing can shake our foundation. May our lives exemplify our integrity as beloved children of God. May we trust so deeply in God’s loving salvation that we have no need to fear even death.
May we let Christ Jesus become so centered within us that we begin to truly live with his identity, integrity, and persistence.
Our reading for tomorrow (Good Friday) will be Matthew 27:20-50.
Bible verses found at https://classic.biblegateway.com/