It is now Holy Week. This week we will share the stories of the last days of Jesus’ life. I hope you’ll join us on-line this Thursday at 7 pm for our Maundy Thursday service.
The picture above is a painting called “The Taking Of Christ” by the Italian artist Caravaggio. It was painted in 1602 and depicts the scene of Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. To the far left the disciple John is pictured as fleeing the scene. Pictured next is Jesus as he is kissed by Judas. To the right are three soldiers as they move in to arrest Jesus. Caravaggio did an excellent job of capturing the chaos that must have been present during Jesus’ arrest.
Today, as we prepare for Holy Week, I want to study Jesus’ arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. While Jesus was praying, “a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
I cannot imagine the depth of Jesus’ disappointment as he is betrayed by one of his own twelve disciples. Judas followed Jesus and learned from him for three years. Somewhere along the way Judas became disillusioned with Jesus. Perhaps he expected a different type of Messiah…one who more closely resembled a typical king.
Judas, surrounded by a crowd armed with swords, betrays Jesus with a kiss.
Eleven of Jesus’ disciples were still loyal. They were not going to allow Jesus to get arrested without a fight.
“When the other disciples saw what was about to happen, they exclaimed, “Lord, should we fight? We brought the swords!” And one of them struck at the high priest’s slave, slashing off his right ear.”
How quickly Jesus’ disciples forget his teachings- “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
I don’t blame the disciples for wanting to fight for Jesus. They loved Jesus and did not want to see him subjected to a brutal death. All of us are wired with a ‘fight or flight’ instinct. In this situation, the disciples chose to fight.
Jesus, however, advocated a different path.
“But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:47-53)
Holy Week…a week when the power of darkness reigns. A week when Jesus is betrayed by a friend, arrested by an armed crowd, mocked and beaten and eventually killed in one of the most brutal and humiliating ways possible.
Holy Week is a reminder that it is ok to sit in the darkness for awhile.
Christians should not walk around the world with rose colored glasses. We should recognize the pain and brutality of the world we live in. This is especially evident as we see the world wracked by a disease that is affecting over 1.3 million people. It is ok to feel discouraged or frustrated with all that is going on.
This is a Holy Week unlike any other.
Thank goodness for Easter.
It is ok to sit in the darkness for awhile, but we should not stay there.
The events of Holy Week are upsetting and unsettling…but they end with new life.
Easter is on the horizon.
Resurrection power is coming.
Death could not hold him.
The grave could not keep him.
Easter is the defining moment of our world.
Things are tough right now. Life is filled with uncertainty. But this too shall pass. Just as the spring flowers are exploding into life, so too is new life springing forth through our world.
I invite you to join me in embracing the events of Holy Week while always keeping the promise of Easter in your view.
If you are feeling discouraged, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to pray with your or simply sit and listen for awhile.
“See” you on Thursday for our Maundy Thursday service at 7 pm. You can watch it here: https://www.unitypres.org/connect/live-streaming/. Then I’ll see you on Sunday at 9:30 am for our live-streamed Easter celebration.
P.S. Unity has now raised over $28,000 for the Virus Relief Fund. Unity’s mission team has authorized an additional $5,000 for a total of $33,000. To date we have supported 151 people with contributions totaling over $30,000. Wow!