Jesus' death is writ large today in liturgical churches. Sundays are the day when the whole community gathers, so today, after the Palm Procession (the 'real time' part of reliving Jesus last week) we will enter the church and the Gospel account will be the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Next Sunday, Easter, we will read the rest of the story.
On Thursday and Friday, once again in 'real time', we will remember and celebrate the Last Supper and Crucifixion on the days that they happened that first time. Those days are less well attended. In many places people, including Christians, will celebrate Easter egg hunts. Not sure why Good Friday is a good day for Easter egg hunts in the mind of Christians, but then most Christians in these parts are intentionally non-liturgical.
The suffering and death of Jesus are God's intervention into the suffering and death in the world around us. The deep mystery is not solved when we read these words. There is, however, hope.
Whatever else happened during that awful time period of emotional distress, physical torture and spiritual battle with the prince of this world--we know that Jesus faced it with courage. Mel Gibson captured that in his movie when Jesus was being scourged. Having been driven to the ground by the pain, it appeared that the beating was done. Then, slowly and with difficulty, Jesus stood back up. For a moment, the unbelieving face of the Roman soldier provided a wordless commentary on the proceedings. It was a powerful image and revelatory for me of the strength and shocking commitment that Jesus had made to be faithful to His mission. A bittersweet reminder of Who He is and what He did.
Too often, our high Christologies cross over into a denial of His humanity. In an effort to emphasize God incarnate, we are all about God and forget about incarnate. Jesus, God become human, was certainly never in doubt about His humanity. Every weary day He knew it, every hungry moment He felt it, every distressing and frustrating day He experienced it. Each time the limits of time and space crushed down upon Him, every unexpected adventure and disappointment, they all made clear to Him, over and again, the challenges of daily life and the need for faith, hope and love, yes, but also courage...
Courage to overcome the fear.
Courage to stay the course.
Courage to be Messiah and do Messianic things.
Courage to take the beating, take the pain, take the isolation, take the abuse...courage to look into the empty darkness and cling to faith that God is, in spite of all evidence to the contrary...God is.
Not enough is made of the need for courage to be a disciple. In days ahead, that virtue will be needed more and more. Only the brave will remain standing, only the brave who believe, as Jesus believed, that in the end God can and will make sense of it all... even the torture and pain, the suffering, and, yes, the death.