While in God's Grip!
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.
~ 1 Corinthians 11:23 - 26
There were no more ordinary days for Jesus and the twelve. Living in chaos, with unknowns around each turn, and a cloud of anxiety had covered the land, allowing dark shadows to crawl deeper into the light, and become known.
For Jesus, there is no denying, the sense of urgency must have been felt.
While the Son of God knew that he would die, it is the process I wonder if he worried about?
Someone asked me once what I thought the most miraculous act of Jesus was during his lifetime, and my response was, "He died."
While the death of Christ is part of the foundation of our faith, there are the hours leading up to that moment, and then the hours following. It is an identified event on the timeline of humanity, and I can't help but think that even within the heavenly realm that all eternity can point to this moment as well.
Once again, I doubt that Jesus was sleeping much this week. While being fully Divine and fully dust, there would be a duality that I'm not sure if Jesus even had learned to fully understand.
Being told you have a terminal diagnosis can be shocking, and yet it happens to people everywhere every day. Knowing the time you have "left" can bring about many changes. Some people create lists that they term as a "bucket list" of things they wish they had done before surrendering their lives to the next.
I knew a person who was terminally ill who before she became confined to her bed, threw an amazing party. Rented a beautiful boat, flew in all of her family and friends, and went out into the Gulf to celebrate with food and wine. She said everything she wanted to say, and saw everyone for "one last time." Just three weeks later as she died, she announced that she had lived a "great life."
This was not going to be the case for Jesus. Seriously, have any of us really looked at the life of Christ? He was born out of wedlock under interesting circumstances. He and his family fled to another country and became immigrants, and didn't return until we hear of him teaching back in their hometown in the Temple. His mother pretty much makes him perform his first miracle while turning water into wine and a family member's wedding.
From there he hangs out with a cousin that eats locusts and honey, dresses in camel hair, and proclaims the Kingdom of God is at hand, and then baptizes Jesus before a small crowd, and the sky opens up and the voice of God declares that "This is my son."
I start to think he is a loner, until he begins walking up to complete strangers and saying, "Come follow me."
His "Disciples" as they become known as, then watch as he does some pretty amazing things. Blind see. The paralyzed walk. He even raises a man from the dead! At one point, Luke remembers, "We have seen great things here today."
He then becomes so popular that the leaders of his community become fearful of what he could lead others to do. People are leaving the faith to follow this man, and soon there is no venue large enough to hold the crowds that want to hear how the "meek shall inherit the earth."
Then we reach this time in his life, when a great celebratory homecoming seems to have taken place, unlike any seen in some time, and the thought that someone from the lineage of David might actually assume the throne again, and they are all looking to Jesus. One of his closest friends, then makes a choice between the friendship and his ability to earn some money, but first, they must eat before the events that will cause him to never experience another sunrise or sunset.
And so Jesus gathers the Disciples together. Knowing he would soon die, he doesn't create a bucket list. They come together and eat.
He explains that his body would become broken and that he would bleed. While this seems to be another one of "those" stories he often would tell, he is describing for them what they are about to witness. It is like the doctor describing to the patient what to expect as the disease process continues of the dying patient.
They listen, and they are told to "remember."
It's not the sunny days, or the times they fished together on lakes that were sometimes filled with crashing waves, and some as calm as a sleeping child. It's not the campfires that reflected in one another's eyes each night as they spoke of the events of the day, or how Jesus would lay under stars that he helped to create, as he may have spoken of the day the sun rose for the first time upon creation.
He instead speaks of a body that would bleed, and how in his brokenness his presence would be felt, and that this is how he wanted to be remembered.
This is our Jesus. The One we have journeyed with through this season of Lent, and who will will continue to embrace as nails pierce him and hold him until he announces that "it is finished."
This is our Jesus who knew what it meant to be different, while struggling with others to make sense of why there are imperfections within the creation that was pronounced "good" by a God who loved us so much that the journey was created so that we might better understand just what that love looks like.
Today we gather, and we remember, while we remain in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.