March 24, 2016 8 Comments
We’ve had a quick detox dealing with old films and great stars, and we’re ready now, perhaps, to turn to the thing our secular-minded society finds it all too easy to avoid – Easter.
Today, in the UK, the Queen will distribute Maundy Money where the Queen gives a gift of money to pensioners in imitation of Jesus washing to feet of his disciples – whilst it is nice to have your feet washed, the money is more helpful. The ceremony is a reminder that with wealth and position comes responsibility – a very Christian message. We see the same with the Pope washing the feet of the poor – a more direct copy of what Christ did. It’s a shame it seems to provoke some controversy with some Catholics – the gesture of humility is what is important – Jesus said that in his kingdom service was what matters, and those who would be great in it had to serve.
That evening in the upper room, Jesus prepared for what he knew would be an ordeal, and we know in the Garden he prayed that if it were possible, the cup should pass him by; but that was not possible, and he let himself follow the course mapped out for him. Others also followed a course that night. Judas went off and betrayed his master, Peter hung round the High Priest’s house and denied his master; Peter felt shame and persevered; Judas felt shame and hanged himself: there’s a moral there for us.
We can only imagine how it was that night for the followers of Jesus; their world suddenly collapsed. It had been only a few days earlier that their leader had been feted by the people of Jerusalem – and now he was arrested, and they were wanted men and women. We can’t know what they felt, but we do know that by the Saturday night they were in hiding; the events of Good Friday were terrible ones, and their hopes and dreams were all gone. It was the end of all their aspirations. Not one of them knew what Jesus had meant about the Temple being knocked down and restored after three days. They had spent so much time with Jesus and they saw so little.
One of the ways you just know you can trust Scripture is this sort of thing – it is from the NT that we get all these stories which show the Apostles in a pretty poor light, arguing over which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of Heaven, not understanding the parables, boasting they’d stand with him and then running away – you’d have to ask who, if they were making stuff up, would ever put this into their story. No, these guys came to realise, after the Resurrection, everything Jesus had meant, and their honesty compelled them to acknowledge their own shortcomings.
I don’t know about you, but I find that very cheering as I approach Easter. I could spend an awful long time recounting my sins to a priest and still probably not get it all in – so I take it to the Lord, who knows all things, and I tell him he knows what needs to be forgiven and healed. Over the next few days, we can all do that.