Following Jesus in His Last Week
Difficult times are the perfect backdrop for Holy Week. The first Holy Week followed a series of horrific plagues and began with God’s people fleeing in haste. As we enter into this holy time with hearts made vulnerable by the heartaches we feel, what a joy to remember we are on a journey to the Promised Land!
The Waiting Room of God
Grief blinds and deafens the heart. Scripture does not record many of Jesus’ followers being at the Cross…but some were there. Others perhaps buried under confusion, fear, discouragement and deafening grief fled the scene of horror. Overwhelmed by a situation they could not control, Jesus’ followers found themselves locked in a prison of darkness. The truths they heard, the truths they believed were – for the moment – out of reach. Have you sat in darkness like that?
Take heart. Jesus anticipated that happening. Isaiah 53 speaks so beautifully of Jesus and His understanding of grief:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not…Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” Isaiah 53:3,10
Jesus told them that when He, the Shepherd, was stricken, the sheep would scatter. He is never surprised by our ‘failings.’ He is never discouraged by (or for) us. His faith does not rest upon us. Jesus knows the depths of despair will give way to unshakable hope. He knows the pleasure of the LORD will break forth.
I like to think that that evening, those who had been at the Cross found their friends and shared the passage Jesus spoke from when He was upon the Cross (Psalm 22). Throughout the horror of the Cross, the Living Word drew upon the written Word for comfort – and spoke from the words stored in His heart. We must do the same!
Fulfilling the Word compelled Jesus to His dying moment. The vinegary drink would have helped make His final words audible: IT IS FINISHED!
Jesus didn’t die as a martyr, He died as a victor…and knew it. But some of His loved ones were blinded by grief. The passage He quoted from is an imprecatory Psalm. Those Psalms beg God for justice…they cry out the grief that blinds to the One who heals. Those Psalms confront the evil, the wrongs endured, but ultimately they declare God’s sure victory. They take you to praise. In the dark waiting moments, consider the power of these words:
“But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth note the prisoners. Let the heaven and earth praise Him, the seas, and everything that moveth therein. For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.”
Every disciple finds themselves in the despair of the ‘day after’ – in the darkness of waiting for God’s good plans to come into view. In Jesus, there is Light and Hope. May we be the disciples who speak the words of hope to the deaf and the blind!
As you journey toward Resurrection Life, ask Holy Spirit to reveal:
if you are stuck in a time of darkness and waiting.
how Jesus is the Light you need in the midst of your despair and confusion.
someone you can encourage with Words of Life and light